Two videos of masked men are generating new attention after five activists associated with the Black Lives Matter movement were shot on Monday night by assailants who reportedly fit a similar description as the men in the videos.
Minneapolis police on Tuesday arrested a white man and a Hispanic man who are suspected of being involved in the shooting. Authorities are still looking for additional suspects.
It is not clear if there is any connection between the men in the videos and the suspects who have been arrested. It is also not clear if there is any connection between the men in the video and those who visited the movement's encampment on Thursday night. The descriptions of the men in each cases, however, are very similar.
Oleuchi Omeoga, a protester who witnessed the shooting on Monday, told the Associated Press that the perpetrators of the crime were three masked men. She said the men “weren’t supposed to be” at the encampment, where activists have been protesting the death of 24-year-old Jamar Clark, a black man shot in the head by police on Nov. 15.
After the masked men left the encampment, several protesters followed them to a street corner. The men in masks then fired, according to Omeoga. None of the victims sustained life-threatening injuries.
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis posted a 90-second video to its Facebook page on Friday of two masked young white men spewing racial epithets in a car, apparently on their way to the Black Lives Matter protest encampment. The organization said in an e-mail that supporters sent them the video, but did not provide additional information about its origins.
In the Facebook post, Black Lives Matter activists wrote that they recognized the men in the video as those who had visited the encampment the night before.
“Last night 2 white supremacists, one carrying a pistol, showed up to our peaceful protest at the 4th precinct,” the post said. “After community members on livestream started questioning them they left without incident, then we later found a video of them en route to the protest brandishing a pistol and making comments including ‘stay white’ and justifying the killing of Jamar Clark.”
The message encouraged supporters to appear at the encampment to help ensure security and defy the white supremacists' intimidation.
“In the era of white supremacist terrorism against people of color across the U.S., we refuse to be intimidated by hate groups,” the post continued. “We call on our supporters to join us tonight to continue to demand #Justice4Jamar and an end to violence against our community, whether by white supremacist citizens, or white supremacist Police like MPD union president Bob Kroll.”
Minneapolis Police Department spokesman Scott Seroka said the police are "aware" of this video, but would not offer additional comment.
Note: The video and the description below contain language that may be offensive to some readers.
In that video, the two masked men refer to themselves with aliases. A man with glasses identified himself as "Saiga Marine," and introduced his passenger as "Black Powder Ranger."
"We’re going to go see what these fucking dindus are up to," the first man said to the camera, which was apparently live-streamed to an online audience. He showed a gun, and said the two men are driving to the protest because they take issue with the protesters’ claims of police brutality.
"Stay white!" the man with glasses said to end his remarks.
Another video posted to YouTube on Friday appears to show the same two masked men at the protest encampment at night. When a member of Unicorn Riot, a media collective affiliated with the protesters, asks the masked man with the glasses what he thinks of the cause for which the people are protesting, the man gives a very cryptic response.
“The fire is rising. Things are getting heated. We don’t know if this was part of their plan, to just stand here,” he answered. “But they almost expect like, one of us to do something -- one of us to be in the wreckage, or whatever, of all this. And -- it’s boiling man, it’s boiling. It’s happening, it’s gonna be happening soon.”
Black Lives Matter protesters occupied the premises of Minneapolis’ 4th Precinct police headquarters, near where Clark was shot, shortly after his death. They have said they will not leave until their demands are met, including that the state release video footage of the incident.
The state of Minnesota is investigating the incident, including by reviewing video of what occurred from multiple cameras nearby. The state has said it does not want to release the video until the investigation is complete, so as not to interfere with the integrity of the inquiry.
Clark’s family released a statement through the office of Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) after Monday night's shooting, and cited "imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers" as a reason to end the occupation of the 4th Precinct.
Authorities say Clark was a suspect in an assault and was interfering with paramedics treating the assault victim, the AP reports. The police say officers shot and killed Clark after a struggle. People who say they saw the shooting, however, claim Clark was handcuffed when he was shot.
This article has been updated with details about the second video.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said four, not five, protesters were shot on Monday.
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