MINNEAPOLIS — Dozens of protesters braved the bitter cold for a Martin Luther King Day rally on Monday, briefly shutting down traffic across a bridge that spans the Mississippi River between Minneapolis and St. Paul to highlight the deaths of two black men shot by police last year.
Police blocked traffic across the Lake Street and Marshall Avenue bridge as protesters started marching — one group from St. Paul, and a larger contingent from Minneapolis. With temperatures in the low single digits, a crowd of nearly 100 people chanted and waved signs calling for police to be prosecuted for their involvement in those deaths.
St. Paul protesters are calling for police to reopen their investigation into the death of Marcus Golden, who was shot and killed by officers last January. A grand jury declined to indict the officers.
Activists from Minneapolis are hoping the case of Jamar Clark's death does not meet the same fate. The 24-year-old was shot and killed by police in November, after what officers said was a struggle. Some witnesses at the scene said Clark was handcuffed at the time.
Protesters want video footage of the shooting to be released. They also say Clark's case should be handled by a special prosecutor — not a grand jury.
"We've seen it happen time and time again. That's where those cases tend to go to die," Loretta VanPelt said of grand juries before marching across the bridge.
It's unclear who organized the pair of rallies, though a spokeswoman for Black Lives Matter Minneapolis — the group behind the massive Christmastime Mall of America protest and a protest camp outside a police station for more than two weeks in November — told the Star Tribune her group was not involved.
Several protesters said it was critical to keep their efforts in the public eye, despite the frigid temperature of about 1 degree above zero with a wind chill of minus-17 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
"This is what Martin Luther King would be doing, even though it's cold," activist Mel Reeves told the crowd.