Monday July 29, 2019
March in Eagan, MN demanding justice for Isak Aden. (Fight Back! News/staff)
Eagan, MN - Hundreds of community members rallied and marched on the Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan on Saturday afternoon, July 27, to demand justice for Isak Aden, a Somali man who was killed by police in this Saint Paul suburb on July 2.
Since the suburbs aren’t known as Black Lives Matter strongholds, and the Eagan police had militantly tried to prevent family members and protesters from addressing the city council the week before, the rally was started as a line-up along the public sidewalk with chants and political speeches for an hour. This allowed for the crowd to swell as plans were made for further action.
The rally - speakers were mainly African American, Muslim, or Somali - was followed by a march in the streets around the mall. The march then proceeded into the open mall area. Onlookers were surprised by the protest happening right in front of them. Many in the march and witnessing the action were new to the movement. White working-class, immigrants and oppressed nationality folks expecting a regular Saturday afternoon of shopping were surprised to be interrupted by the protest.
The protesters exited the mall and then hit the streets again. They took over a four-lane highway to reach the site were Isak Aden was murdered. On that day, over 90 police officers from several jurisdictions riddled Isak with bullets as he sat alone on a curb in a light industrial park. One the cops who murdered Isak had transferred to Eagan after having killed a young white man in Duluth, Minnesota.
The family spoke to the crowd of marchers about how the BCA won’t release footage, likely because they lied about the incident, saying to the family over the phone that they would wait for Isak to surrender, that he was inside the building, that shots they heard over the phone were about getting into the building instead of the shots fired to kill the young Somali man. A witness indicated that Isak was never inside the building and in fact he was cornered into a small loading area outside the building, he had no chance of escape, and then was slaughtered like he wasn’t even human.
After the family spoke, the marchers returned to their starting point. Upon return, mall security had increased. The family insisted on making another go through the mall. Although the protest was in its third hour through 90-plus degree weather in open sun, the protesters’ spirits were high. Marshals and the tactical team, in collaboration with the family, positioned the crowd to hit the mall again.
Again, mallgoers, unused to protest in the exurbs, were shocked as the protesters entered the public area. Many people began filming the protest. The observers were predominantly immigrants, oppressed nationality African Americans, Somali and white people, all of whom were mostly working class. Support for the protest grew and observers began chanting, raising fists, and clapping. This included almost all shoppers and even managers from stores. There was hardly anyone who was openly hostile.
Aden’s family, with the support of the crowd, led the political speeches. At one point, undercover security tried to approach the family. Marshals quickly cut them off. The protesters, who greatly outnumbered the security forces, then began to chase away the security guards who, upon realizing their tactical disadvantage, began to retreat.
The protest ended with Jaylani Hussein of the Minnesota Council of Arab and Islamic Relations (CAIR) addressing the crowd. Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) made a call to action to support Justice for Jamar and the ongoing organizing for Justice for Isak Aden.
Earlier this month, TCC4J, one of the ad-hoc coalition partners, sent a demand letter to the city of Eagan mayor and city council. The demands are “1) Release the unedited body worn video and squad cam footage, 2) Ensure a fair, unbiased, independent, honest, transparent, professional and timely investigation. No more cover-ups for the police by the BCA! No grand jury! Turn the investigation over to the community groups already investigating the case. If such an organization cannot be found, turn the prosecution over to an unbiased prosecutor to indict, convict, and send the cops responsible to jail. 3) Instruct all other agencies involved in Isak’s death to also meet demands.”
The Justice for Isak Aden ad-hoc coalition has unified with the family and is comprised of: Anti-War Committee, Black Lives Matter Minnesota, Black Lives Matter Twin Cities Metro, Blue Lies Murder, CAIR-MN, Communities United Against Police Brutality, Cop Watch Minneapolis, Justice for Justine Damond Ruszczyk, Justice for Marcus Golden, Minnesota Neighbors for Justice, Movement Support Network, Native Lives Matter, Racial Justice Network, Take A Knee Nation, and the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar.