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Five wounded after shots fired during Minnesota 'Black Lives Matter' protest

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Greg Moore/AP/File

(Read caption) This Nov. 20, 2015, file photo shows Minneapolis NAACP leader Nekima Levy-Pounds speaking at a prayer vigil in Minneapolis. Five people have been shot near the site of an ongoing protest over the fatal shooting of a black man by a police officer, a Minneapolis Police Department spokesman said.

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A little over a week ago, protests began in Minneapolis after a young black man was shot by police during an altercation. Federal authorities are still investigating whether the man, Jamar Clark, who died from his injuries on Nov. 16, was handcuffed at the time of the shooting.

Following the incident, protesters from the Minnesota chapters of Black Lives Matter and the NAACP set up tents outside the 4th Precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department near the scene of the shooting. Peaceful protests have included prayer watches, a march across an interstate highway, and demands to see video footage of the encounter between Mr. Clark and police officers, Mark Ringgenberg and Dustin Schwarze.

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But late Monday night shots were fired at a protest group, sending at least five to the hospital. Though no one sustained life-threatening injuries, at least one is in critical condition.

Police have not made any arrests as of yet, but are actively searching for three white male suspects, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. Other reports from witnesses at the scene allege the shooters were two white men and one Asian.

Miski Noor, a media contact for the Black Lives Matter movement, described the shooters as “a group of white supremacists.” According to Mr. Noor, the men were masked and “had been behaving suspiciously,” so demonstrators were moving them away from the rally site when they opened fire.

Nekima Levy-Pounds, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP echoed Ms. Noor’s categorization. “I am obviously appalled that white supremacists would open fire on nonviolent, peaceful protesters,” she told the Star Tribune.

However, all details surrounding the shooting are not yet clear. Though five victims were taken by emergency personnel to local hospitals, there may have been more injured in the attack, “as some shooting victims found their own way to a hospital,” reported USA Today.

Though protesters have vowed to stay until police meet all the demands and release the video evidence, Clark’s family is urging protesters to choose safety and end the protests.

In a statement Tuesday, Clark’s brother Eddie Sutton said, “Thank you to the community for the incredible support you have shown for our family in this difficult time. We appreciate Black Lives Matter for holding it down and keeping the protests peaceful. But in light of tonight’s shootings, the family feels out of imminent concern for the safety of the occupiers, we must get the occupation of the 4th precinct ended and onto the next step.”