MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Leaders of the NAACP appealed Thursday for Minneapolis police to exercise restraint after a night of tense confrontations with protesters over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by an officer.
U.S. Rep Keith Ellison said he was upset with a police officer who he believes pointed a gun at his son, Jeremiah, during the protests.
Jamar Clark, 24, was shot in the head during a confrontation with two officers Sunday. Police said he was a suspect in an assault and was interfering with paramedics trying to treat the victim. The state agency investigating the shooting, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is looking into claims that Clark was handcuffed.
Police used a chemical irritant to control protesters Wednesday night outside a north Minneapolis police station where demonstrators have gathered since the shooting.
Tensions had been high since Wednesday afternoon, when police moved to clear protesters out of the vestibule of the station. Police spokesman John Elder said officers used the irritant after rocks and bottles were thrown at them.
Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, said the incidents, including the one with the congressman's son, mean police need to back down.
"It shows a militarization of the police force in the city of Minneapolis," Levy-Pounds said.
Ellison, a Minneapolis Democrat who is black, expressed dismay on his Twitter account about a Star Tribune photo showing his son and an officer in riot gear.
"Photo is agonizing for me to see. My son is PEACEFULLY protesting w/ hands up; officer is shouldering gun. Why?" Ellison tweeted.
The NAACP called for a candlelight vigil and march at the station starting at 4:30 p.m. Friday.