The Jamar Clark decision has left a lot people with a lot of feelings that we need to process in order to heal, and it’s going to take some time. However confusing or disappointing the decision may be, I have to admit I’m not surprised. I’m not surprised at all, and that makes me sad.
And to be completely honest with you, a lot of things make me sad right now.
I’m sad for Jamar and I’m sad for all the people who loved him, his family most of all.
I’m sad for the involved police officers and their families. I’m sad for good police officers who risk their lives daily to protect our communities.
I’m sad for the good, hard-working people who live in places like North Minneapolis that are often stereotyped and seldom valued as contributing members of society.
I’m sad for our community and the wounds that never seem to heal.
I’m sad that we live in a justice system that stacks the deck against us, one that pits communities against the people intended to protect them.
I’m sad that our justice system doesn’t seek or promote the truth but instead works like an impetuous revolving door.
I’m sad that for so long, we’ve been trying to play nice in a world that doesn’t want to play with us.
I’m sad for all the people in our community who — more than anything — just want to be heard.
I’m sad that when we try to be heard, we’re told we’re too loud, too disorderly, too brazen, and too angry.
I’m sad that we’re told we’re not supposed to be angry. Instead, we’re supposed to keep to our disenchanted selves until we’re too cynical to care. It’s frustrating and unfair.
We have every right to be angry. You have every right to be angry.
But our anger, frustrations, and sadness must be channeled in a way that creates progress in our communities and betters our situations. We’ve got too much to do, and we know it’s up to us to do it. For too long, we’ve been left behind.
Jamar Clark’s death, and the decision to not charge the officers involved, has united a lot of people who have been hurting for a very long time. His death stirred up complex emotions that many have tried to bury, but now they’re very much alive.
People are hurting for good reason, and what happened to Jamar has pushed people to a point where being well-intentioned is no longer enough. The black community in Minnesota — and quite frankly, communities of color across the state — faces social and economic disparities that only seem to get worse, creating the demoralization that ultimately and inevitably leads to civil unrest.
There’s a lot to do to lift up our communities of color, and we need to work together to accomplish a seemingly impossible feat. I joined the state Legislature to try to push this effort, and there are others like me, but we can’t do this without your continued participation.
Our struggles in a way remind me of the Greek myth of Sisyphus, the man who spent his days pushing a boulder uphill, only to have it roll back downhill each time he neared the top. The black community keeps pushing forward, only to have its efforts pushed back down. But in present day America, present day Minnesota, present day Minneapolis, we refuse to be pushed back any longer.
What Sisyphus had was a mythical nightmare from which he could never wake up. What we have are people awakening up from a nightmare, ready to push until we’ve succeeded.
People are awake. YOU are awake.
Jamar Clark’s death has left us with a lot of uncertainties, a lot of sadness, a lot of cynicism, and a lot of emotions we’re still processing. Know that when you hurt, I hurt. We all hurt, and we’re all in this together.
Throughout the healing process, let us operate as a support system with a collective goal of bandaging a wounded community. From there, we can work together and utilize our shared experiences to lift up our communities and the people who need us the most. There are many different emotions that will drift through the Minneapolis air in the coming days, and it’s important we channel them into something positive for the black community.
I’ll end by saying Black Lives Matter. YOU matter. Thank you for your commitment to what’s right. If we work together and power ourselves with a positive energy, we’ll make it to the top of that hill.
State Sen. Bobby Joe Champion (DFL-59) represents downtown and North Minneapolis neighborhoods.