Minneapolis, MN – Over four hundred days have passed since suspected white supremacist Allen Lawrence ‘Lance’ Scarsella shot five unarmed black men at Jamar Clark protests in North Minneapolis. In the second week of the new year (2017), Scarsella’s high-profile trial facing a litany of felonies has finally commenced.
[Content advisory, some of the language seen in this article may be disturbing and offensive to our audience.]
This is the first of Unicorn Riot’s special report-backs from the trial that started on January 9, 2017.
Scarsella is charged with one count of first-degree assault, a second-degree riot while armed, and five counts of each second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon – causing substantial bodily harm, all felonies (note: on January 31st Hennepin County Attorney’s Office added five counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon).
Allen has been in administrative segregation (isolation, away from the general population for his protection) in the Hennepin County jail since November 24, 2015.
Based on comments made by his friends, his own posts on social media, and detailed evidence in his police report, Allen Scarsella is a believer in the sovereign citizen movement and a pro-constitutionalist. He is part of the growing movement of white nationalists using coded language adopted through the internet and espousing white-supremacist ideals through terminology not recognized by the larger majority of the populace.
To read more detailed information on this case, click on the image below for Hiding Hate Crimes: Prosecutor Goes Easy on Attempted Murderers.
Scarsella made his first appearance in the case on December 1st, 2015 and has had three omnibus hearings (January 6th, March 15th, and June 15th, 2016), and two bail hearings, (December 15th, 2015 and July 6th, 2016). Several motions have been filed over the last year, ranging from review of discovery and cell phone data suppression, to change of venues and dismissals.
The July 6th, 2016 bail motion from the defense was denied, click on the image below to read Bail Motion Denied for White Supremacist 4th Precinct Shooter.
Read Allen Scarsella’s criminal complaint below:scarsella-allen-cplt
Defense Attorney’s Peter Martin and Laura Heinrich represent Allen Scarsella and Hennepin County Assistant Attorney’s Judith Hawley and Chris Freeman are representing the State in its prosecution as Judge Hilary Caligiuri presides over this case.
Unicorn Riot Journalist Subpoenaed to Admit Two Livestream Interviews with Attacker into Evidence
On the night of November 19th, 2015, while heading to the 4th Precinct occupation, Julio Suarez and Allen Scarsella made a Facebook and Livestream video wherein numerous racial slurs were made and a gun was brandished, accompanied by the phrase “locked and loaded“.
They were wearing camouflage and had their faces covered. On Allen’s face was a keffiyah, a scarf typically worn in the West to show solidarity with Palestine. At the end of the video, before signing off to the words “stay white”, they implore people on /pol/ to “keep on watching the stream” as they were on their way “to knock this shit out”.
Shortly after arriving at the precinct that night, Scarsella, Suarez, and another individual from the internet website 4chan excitedly sought out Unicorn Riot’s livestream feed in front of the 4th Precinct and were interviewed for a brief three minutes by Unicorn Riot journalist Niko Georgiades.
Scarsella and Suarez used a slew of phrases from movies and racist memes popularized in internet forums like 4chan and Reddit, such as “I don’t know all the facts“, “need more money for them programs“, as well as “making the fire rise” or “the fire is rising“. Julio Suarez said:
“We don’t know if this was part of their plan, to just stand here, but they almost expect like one of us to do something, you know like, they expect one of us to be in the wreckage or whatever of all this. And, it’s boiling man, it’s soon, it’s gonna be happening soon. We don’t know how, we don’t know when, but it’s gonna be happening.” – Julio Suarez
At the end of the interview, Scarsella says,
“One might say it was our plan to get caught.” – Allen Scarsella
A short time after this interview, a concerned community member at the precinct protests confronted the men about the language they were using while they were recording and asked them their purpose for being there; this was the second video admitted into State’s evidence in their case versus Allen Scarsella.
In this conversation, they denied using disparaging remarks and stated they were there to record the protests. Towards the ending of the conversation, a boisterous Scarsella can be heard saying, “we came here to be culturally enriched, needn’t you worry about that my friend” before leaving the area with Suarez and another person.
Four nights later, Scarsella returned along with three others, and he was once again armed with his Remington 1911 .45 semi-automatic handgun. Within minutes after arriving at the precinct, he had emptied out a full magazine of bullets towards unarmed protesters that were demanding that he and his friends leave the protest after the four refused to remove their masks.
Below is a video representing the timeline of the attack.
In the final week of 2016, Unicorn Riot journalist Niko Georgiades was subpoenaed by the Hennepin County Attorney to appear in Scarsella’s trial to verify the authenticity of the two Livestream interviews so they can be entered into evidence.
After a long week of jury selection and forty potential jurors, twelve jurors and two alternates were sworn in on Tuesday afternoon, January 17, 2017. Of the fourteen jurors, twelve are white-appearing and three are femme-appearing, while a large majority are middle-aged or older.
The lengthiness of the selection process correlated with how high profile this case has become and how highly visible and polarized race-relations currently are across the country. The courtroom was tense at times during discussions of guns, protests, and views on race.
Potential jurors were given questionnaires and had one-on-one interviews. Some held strong negative opinions about black folks and the protests that occurred on the north side of Minneapolis after the death of Jamar Clark.
A white male called Black Lives Matter a “hate group” and questioned the premise of the Black Lives Matter movement. Another white male thought that the protests at the 4th Precinct were starting a “war on police” and another said that black folks should “get off welfare”.
One black male potential juror told the court that he couldn’t be fair to the defendant because of the case and was dismissed; this juror was one of a few who were dismissed because of their interviews.
Opening statements in the trial of State of Minnesota vs. Allen Lawrence Scarsella Court file 27-CR-15-33503 began on January 17th, 2017.
In the prosecution’s opening statement, the State of Minnesota started with the night in question, November 23th, 2015, when Allen Scarsella shot five Black men one block away from the 4th Precinct in North Minneapolis.
They provided context around Jamar Clark’s death by police on November 15th, 2015 and spoke about the cry for “social and criminal justice” from nearby neighbors as well as residents across the metro area. Attendees of the 24/7 protest encampment outside the precinct that employed Jamar’s murderers were described as “mostly African-American” and it was noted that the protest had received “much media coverage“.
County Attorney Hawley reminded the jurors that the case was not about the shooting of Jamar, the precinct occupation, the police, or Black Lives Matter. She stated that the jurors were there to judge the defendant’s actions the night of November 23, when Allen Scarsella wounded five people with seven of the eight bullets discharged from his gun.
Hawley referred to a related incident which had occurred four days prior, November 19, when Scarsella went to the 4th Precinct, “on a mission” she says, to livestream the protests. She said their intent was to also ridicule the protesters and paint them and their protest as misguided.
She talked about Scarsella, code named ‘Black Powder Ranger’, getting together with Julio Saurez, code named ‘Saiga Marine’, and creating the “viral video” in which Suarez brandished a gun and they both repeatedly used racial slurs.
She stated that after the “viral video” and the precinct visit on November 19, people who knew Saurez “outed him” and that he did not want to return to the protest in fear of being recognized. Meanwhile, she says,
“Mr. Scarsella is emboldened … according to his text, ‘the internet is on fire about that night! I’m famous!’”
She then speaks about a myriad of text messages exchanged between Scarsella and one of the three co-defendants in his riot charges, Nathan ‘Nate’ Gustavsson, a few days before the shooting. Gustavsson said that he had “an idea to really stir shit up” “if this shit’s going down on Monday“. Monday was the night of the shooting.
Also, in the exchanged texts, they spoke about their weapons. Scarsella claimed that the Browning firearm was so named because it is “specifically designed to kill brown people” and that Allen’s Remington 1911 45 automatic is good to:
“tempt a chimp to chimp out, and then you get to shoot him“. – Allen Scarsella said in a text to Nate Gustavsson
In another text, he urged his friends on a text to “come practice for when we have to shoot black guys” and “so they can take my gun and throw me in a cage, all for airing out one lazy n*gger“.
Prosecuting Attorney Hawley finished referencing the text messages by spotlighting the following: on the day of the shooting he visited a retail store, where he proclaimed in a text message to his girlfriend that the “smelly brown people” that were near to him should just “gas themselves“.
Attorney Hawley told the jurors that they would have journalists coming in to speak about the case with videos and pictures, but that the jurors would not see video of the shooting itself, as no such video exists.
She then told the jury about the two teenage victims, Wesley Martin who was shot in the leg and Teven King. Teven was shot in the stomach and was in critical condition for a while because of damage to his iliac artery, which supplies blood to all the pelvic organs. Teven still has the bullet in his body; his injuries, deemed life-threatening by one doctor, provided reasoning for Scarsella’s most serious charge, first-degree assault.
The prosecution spoke of Jamar Clark’s cousin, Cameron Clark, and the two gunshot wounds in his lower extremities, as well as Draper Larkins, who was shot in the arm while smoking a cigarette. She said that Walter Hoskins was shot three times, twice in the back (one of the two being a graze wound) and once in the leg.
She listed the rest of the witnesses that they would be calling, including the police officer Bret Levin, whom Scarsella telephoned after the crime and confessed that he had “fucked up” and “shot five people“.
Hawley stated that eight bullet casings were found near the beginning of the east side of the 1400 Morgan Avenue block, one block up from the precinct. She then explained how the next day the police found Scarsella in Bloomington, took him into custody, and mentioned some of the items found there that will be presented to the jury.
Noteworthy among the ninety witnesses the prosecution subpoenaed to possibly testify were: Julio Suarez, Scarsella’s girlfriend, doctors, investigators, crime lab specialists, police officers, computer analysts, journalists, and protestors who were present at the precinct.
The defense made their opening statement after a small break. Attorney Peter Martin asserted that the only important evidence was that which relates to what happened on the night of November 23, 2015. He claimed the evidence would show that Scarsella did not intend to harm anyone; rather, him and his friends were surrounded and thought they were going to get “badly hurt or killed“.
Defense Attorney Martin said that before the four men went to the 4th Precinct on the night of November 23rd “to livestream“, they stopped at Taco Bell. He described them as “wearing regular winter clothes” including face masks that covered their entire faces as it was cold outdoors.
He described how the four then drove to North Minneapolis and parked four blocks away from the protest. They walked towards the precinct and stopped at the fence across from the 4th Precinct building. To the jury, he said that “every witness will tell you these four guys were standing and filming” and that they would see video of the four filming by the fence.
The defense attorney went on to say that the video would show they didn’t approach or engage with anyone and didn’t speak to anybody. He described how the four were approached by two protesters, but soon “thirty to forty people swarmed and circled around” the four masked men, shouting demands for them to remove their masks and shoving the men against the fence.
Martin mentioned that the protesters had set up security and had a shift of people on guard that night, on high alert. The fact that Scarsella was accused by some of the protesters of being a white supremacist and of working with police, was also included in the defense’s opening statement. (The jury was not told was that the increased security at the occupation was documented as a direct response to the viral video of two armed white supremacists having paid a visit to the 4th Precinct four days prior.)
Martin said that in discussion at the fence, Scarsella and the others said they would depart, that “they were leaving, but protesters continued to follow” and “pushed and swarmed” the four men along the fence and down the road. The defense asserted that Scarsella was punched in the face while Gustavsson was punched in the head and shoved to the ground, losing his glasses.
The defense attorney had this to say about the seconds before the shooting:
“Scarsella yelled at this group ‘Go back’ ‘Go back’ ‘Go back’ ‘Go back’ but, instead…six or seven guys rushed him and they rushed Mr. Gustavsson and continued to try and jump them… Scarsella thought he saw someone with a weapon.” – Defense Attorney Peter Martin
Scarsella then “pulled out his firearm” (which he had a permit to legally carry) and started firing. “Bullets flew all over the place” including into the trunk of a nearby car. The defense said that the defendant had been “scared out of his mind“, afraid that “he and his friend would get killed“.
The defense then described how four days prior to the aforementioned incident, Scarsella and Suarez had gone down to the protest to “livestream, to record what was going on” and he exlaimed “they created a stir on the internet“.
“They created a stir on the internet“. – Defense Attorney Peter Martin said of the visit to the protests on November 19
The defense said that at no time on November 19th did Scarsella or Suarez engage in violent acts. He said that they recorded, “made comments, poked at people, laughed among themselves” and then “they went home“.
The defense claimed Scarsella’s offensive, militant and racially charged texts from days or months prior were never followed up with violent acts. The defense’s opening statement closed with Mr. Martin telling the jury that Scarsella is on trial for his conduct on November 23:
“The trial is not about how you feel about [Scarsella]. The evidence will show that Mr. Scarsella was not at the protest to shoot people, he was there to livestream, just like he did four days earlier on November 19th…He was surrounded and attacked and when he believed his friend, Mr. Gustavsson was gonna die, he shot.” – Defense Attorney Peter Martin
As opposed to the prosecution’s ninety possible witnesses, the defense only has seven people on their witness list, which includes two other co-defendants of Allen Scarsella, Joseph Backman, and Nathan Gustavsson (the other co-defendant stemming from this case also facing riot charges is Daniel Macey).
The next part in Unicorn Riot’s special Scarsella Trial report-backs will feature witness statements. We have been present everyday of the court proceedings and will continue to document this trial until a verdict is reached.
To see Unicorn Riot’s past coverage in relation to this shooting, see below:
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