On December 19th, around a thousand supporters took to the streets in solidarity with #Justice4Jamar, marching from the 4th precinct in North Minneapolis to the Government Plaza downtown.
The Unity March and Rally was a call to action against police brutality and racial inequities in Minneapolis, calling for officials to release the tapes of Jamar Clark’s murder, for prosecution of the police involved and not through a Grand Jury process (which statistics and recent history show rarely if ever indicts officers or serves justice for victims of police brutality), and for community control of the police department.
Members of Jamar Clark’s family spoke alongside other victims of police brutality in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Representatives from the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, local labor unions (AFSCME 3800), along with 15 Now MN and several other groups, highlighted the inaction of city officials in addressing racial disparities in healthcare, jobs, and education.
Below is a transcript from the speech 15 Now organizer Ginger Jentzen gave outside of Macy’s on Nicollet Mall, after a low-wage worker organizing with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha framed the crisis of living on poverty pay.
This march is the tale of two cities. We started on Plymouth Ave, and we’re here on Nicollet Mall. Look around. Right here, we have Macy’s a corporation that makes millions off exploiting low-wage workers. Up the street, we have the HQ of Target. Further up Nicollet, we have US Bank, which made billions in 2008 by peddling bunk mortgages to communities of color.
Let’s show them Jamar Clark matters…
that Black Lives Matter…
Normally this is their street, but today, whose street is it?
This is the tale of two cities. While these corporations make record profits, in Minneapolis, 28% of residents live in poverty. These numbers are even higher for families of color, including 49% of African Americans households, 65% of American Indians, and 34% of Latinos.
In this sense it’s not just Minneapolis. In New York, the home of Wall Street, Eric Garner was murdered because he was trying to sell loosey cigarettes to make ends meet. That’s economic racism!
Racism and Poverty are two interwoven threads in the fabric of our city.
And the same people stand in our way toward justice.
In two years, the political establishment and Mayor Hodges’ administration have done nothing substantial to close what are some of the worst in the nation racial equity gaps in education, housing, healthcare and jobs.
The same city establishment that defends racist police and represses peaceful protestors also sides with the big business’ bottom line against Minneapolis workers.
City Council majority and the mayor have no real plan to address racial and economic inequality. They don’t have a plan to provide quality jobs, decent schools or a living wage. They don’t have a plan to change the Minneapolis Police Department.
We can’t wait for their plan. We’ve been waiting too long. There have been too many Jamar Clark’s already.
We need to build a movement against the political establishment that runs this city. Against this establishment that defends these corporations’ greedy profits. Against this establishment that defends the racist MPD.
We can’t wait for them. We need a top-to-bottom restructuring of the police departments. An end to “broken windows” policing and the war on drugs, which is really a war on young people of color. An end to the school-to-prison pipeline which traps millions into a deep cycle of poverty.
No worker in Minneapolis benefits from police repression of peaceful protests. That’s why I’m speaking here on behalf of 15 Now, a grassroots organization fighting alongside all workers, the labor movement and supporters to raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15/hour.
Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour would be one of the most important policies to address the deep inequalities that exist in our city.
Estimates show that a $15 minimum wage would transfer almost $1 Billion per year back into the pockets of working people in Minneapolis.
A recent poll showed a stunning 82% support for a $15 hour minimum wage in Minneapolis. But the Mayor and the City Council majority say no to $15. This shows they are deeply out of step with what most people want and need.
The political establishment has proven they won’t side with workers’ rights and racial equity. We don’t need to go through City Hall to pass $15. 15 Now is putting a $15 minimum wage on the ballot, taking the fight for $15 to a vote by the people of Minneapolis.
Big business will fight hard to defeat $15, throwing millions of dollars to misinform, and confuse the public about our ballot initiative. The only way to defeat big business is to build our own politically independent movement for racial and economic equity. That’s why we’re building a coalition of groups to build the grassroots movement needed to win a $15 ballot initiative. That’s why I want you to fight with me and thousands of your neighbors, friends, co-workers to vote for $15/ hour in 2016. Let’s build this movement together, to take action, and to put $15 on the ballot for the people of Minneapolis to vote!
As the political establishment funds studies, make speeches, seek re-election, and look for every trendy new approach to problems of an unstable, low-wage workforce in our city, this one simple policy – to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour – has been pushed out of the way – despite overwhelming popular support.
We know we can’t rely on City Hall to root out racism in the police department, to end the school to prison pipeline, to bring justice for Jamar.
And the same thing is true for workers’ rights. City Hall will not challenge big business in Minneapolis. City Hall will not pass a $15 minimum wage without immense pressure from below.
Standing here, we are in the belly of the beast of capitalism in Minneapolis.
Do you think it’s right that low-level drug arrests make it difficult to get a job?
Do you think it’s right that being black and 9 times more likely to get arrested means you should have to live on poverty wages?
Let’s let every CEO here know – Jamar Clark Matters
Let’s let every boss here know – No more poverty wages
$15 is a fight we can win.