A modicum of justice was delivered in Minneapolis in the record breaking decision by the Hennepin County prosecutor’s office, to indict a police officer for killing someone in the line of duty. Unfortunately, it seems like the right thing was done, for the wrong reasons.
Predictably, the Big business press will chew on this, while adding to its bottom line. Did this decision have anything to do with race?, they will ask. Of course it had something to do with race, this is a racist society!
Only those who are willfully blind, or deeply dishonest could overlook the racial overtones of the case. A Black, Somali, Muslim, killed a blonde haired, White, Australian woman. We have advanced somewhat in American society because in the bad old days, many Black folks would have had to pay for the crime. But today only the perpetrator is punished: as it should be.
Nevertheless, no amount of past wrongs by Whites against Blacks, can justify a wrong. If indeed Mohammad Noor shot and killed Justine Damond, he was wrong, period. There is no justification for the wrongful taking of a life. Consequently, it is right that he be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
However, it is important to say “IF” in this case, because nobody really knows what happened on the night Justine was killed. The only witnesses were Damond, Minneapolis police officer Noor and his partner Matthew Harrity. And yes in racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic America anything is possible, the truth is not this system’s strong suit.
No doubt Noor was overcharged, manslaughter is one thing but, third degree murder is a reach. The standard under that charge declares that he was “evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life…”
Depravity is more representative of the system that charged him. The dictionary defines depraved as “corrupt, evil, or immoral.” Of course the system is corrupt, it is why it can almost never do the right thing, because it has to cover for its internal corruption and contradictions.
And only a depraved system could find a way to get two for one out of this tragedy.
By indicting Noor, the system gets to further divide us. Some Black folks and Somali have tried to say that the decision to indict Noor was indeed done because of his race “only.” Others have decided to imitate the worst of the most rabid White racists and tried to absolve Noor, by placing the blame on the victim, as if it is okay for one human being to shoot another, without good cause.
Defenders of the prosecutor’s office likely will say, ‘we can’t win’ as some people’s response to the indictment will surely be, ‘well of course they indicted a Black man for killing a White woman.’
But the prosecutor’s office could have prevented the second guessing, if they would simply do the right thing in every case and not act in such a biased and “depraved” manner most of the time.
And the cheerleading that the decision has brought, should be tempered by the fact that no charges were brought against Minneapolis cops in a more recent shooting, in which they shot a young Black boy, Marcus Fischer who was attempting to kill himself. The head of the Minneapolis police federation, foolishly and ridiculously tried to convince the public, that his fellow cops shot the boy “to save him.”
Cheerleading should also be tempered by the fact that prosecutor Michael Freeman has steadfastly refused to prosecute cops for killing unarmed Black men. Worse yet, after he failed to indict the cops who cold bloodedly killed unarmed Jamar Clark in 2016, he didn’t just render a decision, but he took time to brow beat Black folks and disparage leaders of the community, who disagreed with his “spin” of the events that lead to Clark’s death.
Freeman said at his press conference announcing the decision to charge Noor with manslaughter and third degree murder, “I think what we’re saying in this charge is that Officer Noor did not act reasonably, did not act objectively and abused his authority to use deadly force.”
Based on the rationale for indicting Noor, all the cases involving police killing should be re-opened and re- examined. In every instance in which Minneapolis cops killed someone, whether it was Tycel Nelson, Smalley and Wiese, Fong Lee, Terrence Franklin and Jamar Clark, the cops acted un- reasonably, un- objectively and abused their authority in deciding to use deadly force.
Just as in this case, in the vast majority of the cases in which cops have killed folks, there has been no real justifiable reason for it. In fact in most of these cases, like the most recent cop killing of Stephon Clark in Sacramento, there was never any real threat to the officials doing the killing.
Ironically, finding reason and cause to indict Noor, opens the door to more scrutiny for the power structure, (which is why they work so hard to keep cops out of the system for their wrong doing). The Minneapolis power structure can avoid all the second guessing, by simply doing the right thing, even re-opening past cases in which police have killed residents, using the newly introduced prosecutorial standards as a guide for prosecution.
Justice then peace