Gunmen described by witnesses as voicing white supremacist remarks shot and wounded five Black Lives Matter protesters as they gathered in Minneapolis on Monday night to protest the police killing of unarmed African-American man Jamar Clark earlier this month.
"Tonight, white supremacists attacked the #4thPrecinctShutDown in an act of domestic terrorism,"Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said on Facebook. The group explained that the unarmed demonstrators were shot "by white supremacists who were asked to leave [and] followed out."
"One block up they shot one in leg & 1 in stomach," Black Lives Matter Minneapolis said.
Miski Noor of Black Lives Matter told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that "a group of white supremacists showed up at the protest, as they have done most nights." They then "opened fire on six protesters," said Noor. Before the shooting, Black Lives Matter protesters had reported being threatened with a gun by white supremacists.
The shootings were confirmed in a statement released Tuesday morning by the Minneapolis Police Department, and all who were shot reportedly face non-life-threatening wounds. The suspects are described as white males, believed to have been wearing bullet-proof vests at the time of the shooting.
Meanwhile, reports are emerging that, in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, the police maced witnesses and at least one person filming the attack. The police department declined to respond to those charges in its statement.
For over a week, large crowds have held regular protests, staged sit-ins, shut down a highway, and set up an encampment outside of the police department's 4th precinct. They are demanding justice for Jamar Clark, who was shot in the head on November 15 by police while he was unarmed and, according to numerous eye witnesses, handcuffed behind his back. Police have denied that Clark was handcuffed but have refused to release footage of the killing or name any of the officers involved.
Monday's shooting comes amid growing concern over rising anti-black, white supremacist violence. A report released this summer by the New America research group found that white supremacist, right-wing extremists pose the greatest terrorism threat in the United States.
What's more, the shooting came shortly after Donald Trump supporters attacked a Black Lives Matter activist in Birmingham, Alabama on Saturday. Trump responded to Fox News on Sunday: "Maybe he should have been roughed up."
People across the United States are organizing solidarity marches and demonstrations in their respective locations, with many turning to social media to express their support for Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
"More than 50 years after the civil rights movement, Black lives continue to be under attack," racial justice organization Color of Change said Tuesday. "Let this be a call to action for every person in America. The hard work of undoing systemic racism and building a country where black folks are free from both state and vigilante violence, cannot wait."
Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter is calling for a mass march on Tuesday afternoon to demand justice for Clark, with students expected to walk out of class. "We will not be scared," said the group. "We will not be intimidated. We demand justice."