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Civil Rights Groups Call Harteau's Comments 'Troubling'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Civil rights groups said Friday they find comments made by the Minneapolis Police Department chief to be "troubling."

On Thursday, Chief Janeé Harteau said that violence and vandalism would not be tolerated once a decision was released in the case of Jamar Clark's death.

Harteau released a video on the Minneapolis Police Facebook page on Thursday. The video is just over a minute long, but the message was clear.

A Message from the Chief: Balancing Public Safety & 1st Amendment Rights by MinneapolisPolice on YouTube

"It is also our responsibility to do everything in our power to keep people safe," Chief Janeé Harteau. "The MPD has to, and will, strike a balance between First Amendment rights with the safety of everyone."

On Friday, in front of Minneapolis City Hall, Minneapolis NAACP head Nekima Levy-Pounds introduced a group of representatives from Twin Cities Coalition 4 Justice 4 Jamar, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, and Black Clergy United for Change.

"We're tired of enduring injustice, brutality, and hostility at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department," Levy-Pounds said. "We're tired of our leaders rubber-stamping the actions of police who engage in brutality. And we're not going to take it anymore."

The groups also said Harteau's comments suggested that decision in the case had already been made.

"Chief Harteau is setting the stage to promote violence against us. Those words were terroristic threats. I don't take those words lightly," Minneapolis NAACP criminal justice reform chair Jason Sole said. "We do not deserve her words. We do not deserve for her to care more about fires and graffiti rather than the people who are dying in these streets. She cares more about her building and her precinct. We don't have Jamar anymore."

The Hennepin County Attorney could decide next week whether two Minneapolis police officers will face charges in the 24-year-old's death.

Some witnesses said Clark was handcuffed when police shot him last fall, which the department disputes.

The police union said Clark reached for an officer's gun during a struggle. The shooting sparked weeks of protest in the streets outside the police headquarters in north Minneapolis.

On Thursday, Lt. Bob Kroll of the Minneapolis Police Officers Federation also responded to Harteau's video.

"Basically the city has given in to all their demands. They got an outside investigation from the BCA. They got oversight from the Department of Justice. They wanted to do away with the grand jury and they've gotten that. So putting them on notice is a good thing," Kroll said.

The Hennepin County Attorney is expected to make a decision by the end of the month so that would be sometime next week.

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