Sanction is given unto those who fight because they have been wronged; and Allah is indeed able to give them victory.
— Qur’an, 22:39
If you speak of Minnesota, you’ll be met with the usual remark, “There ain’t no Black people up there,” as if the speaker has ever visited long enough to have such certainty. As a state, it’s true that Minnesota certainly doesn’t hold the bulk of this country’s Black population. But there are enough of us up there to kill. There are also enough of us to hear the gunshots, watch the videos, and engulf the city streets. There may not be enough of us to chew up Minneapolis or St. Paul or any other place where people have come to harm. We cannot reduce concrete and police precincts built in the hubs of community centers to nothing. We cannot transform all the things that harm us into forgotten mush in our bellies, shit out in the snow. But there are enough of us to seek atonement.
In the early hours of November 15, 2015, I was at my grandmother’s house in south Minneapolis. When my friend texted me to say police shot somebody in the head on the north side, I didn’t know who they’d shot. None of us did, but we did not have to be familiar to feel the cold wash over our bodies as we piled into a car and drove to a corner already cordoned off by police tape. There, the most we could do was tweet the intersection, #JamesAndPlymouth.
I don’t know when we finally learned his name. It could have been before or after we watched men with power hoses spray his blood off the sidewalk, erasing the evidence until we were a crowd sustaining ourselves on whispers. It could have taken until the next day. The police would report that he was resisting and there was a confrontation. They would insist that he tried to grab an officer’s gun so the other had no choice but to shoot him. But that night, someone said their child saw everything from a bedroom window, including the handcuffs. Other witnesses would later attest to the same.
At some point, Jamar Clark’s name was passed to us. The intersection was replaced by an actual identity. For us, it didn’t take a name to cement that a…