Our View: Standing against hate
The trial of Allen “Lance” Scarsella ended in Hennepin County Court on Wednesday with a guilty verdict. To some in the courtroom, it was a surprising verdict, given that Scarsella is white, 10 of the 12 jurors were white, and the victims of Scarsella’s crime were black.
Scarsella had been arrested and charged with felony first degree assault and riot after shooting five people at a north Minneapolis protest in November 2015. The protesters were demonstrating against the police shooting of Jamar Clark, and the Hennepin County Attorney’s decision not to charge the officers.
Scarsella, carrying a handgun, and a few friends went down to the protest wearing masks, got into a confrontation with protesters, and as they were being chased, Scarsella shot and injured five protestors. Prosecutors showed previous racist text messages and references to killing black people Scarsella made. There was little doubt he went to the protest to spark a confrontation and shoot some blacks, claiming self defense.
The Star Tribune’s report on the verdict said one of the victims, Cameron Clark, Jamar Clark’s cousin, doubted there would be a guilty verdict. That’s been his experience with the justice system.
But the jurors convicted Scarsella on all counts and showed that, yes, justice is possible for blacks and whites alike in Minnesota courts.
Racist violence should not be tolerated in American society. This jury verdict was proper based on the evidence, and it sends a strong signal that Minnesotans won’t tolerate the kind of racism that motivated Scarsella.