Noor verdict reinforces need for justice system overhaul

Paige Elliott/MSR News Protesters on University Ave. temporarily shut down the Green Line following the not guilty verdict in the police killing of Philando Castile

Last week’s verdict against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was met with mixed reactions from our communities of color, including African American, Somali American and indigenous communities.

This case represents the inherent bias of the policing and (in)justice system and its reinforcement of White supremacy in the current political and economic system.

Noor was the first officer in Minnesota history known to be prosecuted and convicted for the murder of a civilian. The charges were less than desired and not a proper consequence for his actions.

Until his murder of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, officials — including current and former mayors, city councils, police chiefs and county attorneys like Mike Freeman and his predecessor presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar — were unwilling to carry out their civic duties. These duties include disciplining and bringing charges against the officers involved in cases of killing civilians in Minneapolis and Hennepin County (of which there are at least 50).

So, what made the trial of Mohamed Noor different than any other before it? What brought about the disparate response to Ruszczyk Damond’s murder and prior victims of police terror?

Three things: race, class, and political power.

Damond, one of the many victims of police terror in our communities, was a White woman from an affluent neighborhood that is a stronghold of the DFL local majority. She wasn’t treated any differently by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) than other community member killed by the police.

It is because of her place of power in society that the MPD cover-up didn’t stick. More importantly, it is because of the Black Lives Matter Movement and local groups like Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar (TCC4J) that have continued to lift up those whose lives were stolen via protests, highway shut-downs, occupations, marches and confronting politicians that protect killer cops.

African American and Native American people are disproportionately murdered by Minneapolis police officers. These victims of police murders are falsely painted as “criminals” by police, local and federal elected officials, county attorneys, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the media.

Minnesotans who live in the heart of the “Jim Crow North” are familiar with the methods used to enforce racist segregation and economic disparities between Black Indigenous People of Color and their White counterparts.

The trial of officer Noor shows us how important it is for an overhaul of the policing system. We need change and that is going to come with power taken back by the people via the Minneapolis Police Accountability Council (MPAC) that the TCC4J is organizing. This council will be comprised of elected members who will have the power over the budget, hiring/firing, rules and much more. Elected members may not be current or former police or their relatives.

The system is guilty for the murder of Justine, Jamar Clark, Thurman Blevins, and, in particular, for enabling a police federation run by open White supremacist Bob Kroll who directs the MPD contrary to the needs of the community and in open war against BIPOC and urban working people. We will reform the policing system at its highest level.

Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar was formed after the November 2015 murder of Jamar Clark by the Minneapolis Police Department. We stand in solidarity with all victims and families of police crimes.