The Noor verdict: When the system did the (apparent) right thing for the wrong reasons

justice for justine pic


The finding of Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor guilty of 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter in the death of Justine Ruszczyk Damond was not justice, but rather punishment, a kind of tainted justice. The decision to indict and prosecute Noor was not rendered out of a desire to be just, but rather out of the system’s need to appear just. This was a case of doing the right thing (kind of) for the wrong reasons. But we are not fooled!

If there was any doubt about why Noor was charged, it was cleared up by the show put on after the guilty verdict, by representative of the Minneapolis power structure Michael Freeman. During his show, otherwise known as a press conference, the Hennepin County prosecutor made the point that this case absolves him, his office and the system of its failure to indict cops who have taken Black life, and proves beyond reasonable doubt that the system is inherently fair and just.

Freeman pretended that the reason this case was treated differently was because Noor had done something wrong and that it was obvious and so his office did its due diligence and charged him.

But anyone with any common sense and a grasp on history knows that is not true, because in practically every shooting the offending cop has done something wrong.

Freeman said at his press conference, “I’ve heard a small group in the community make disparaging remarks about me and this office to the effect that I won’t charge white cops who shoot black people, but I’ll charge Black cops who shoot White people,…Race has never been a factor in any of my decisions. It never will be.… We have charged white cops for committing crimes, but we look at each case based on the facts, evidence and laws in front of us.”

Freeman claimed that a small group disagrees with his repeated decision over the years to legally justify the actions of cops, who have victimized Black folks. Freeman’s math is bad. There is a rather large group, which includes the overwhelming majority of Black folks, many in other Communities of Color and the justice loving members of the majority community that vehemently take issue with his failure to charge cops for killing Black people. However if the group was so small why does he feel the need to defend himself? He does so because he and the system is feeling the pressure from the protests. Some say they don’t rally/protest/ or march because it does not work, history especially the history of Black progress disproves this myth and so does this case.

Freeman like the system he represents is fundamentally dishonest. (It is important to keep in mind that he does not make these calls without consultation with the local power structure) If race is not a factor (as Freeman claims) then how does one explain the failure of the judicial system in practically every locale in the US to charge White cops (or Black cops) for killing Black people? The fact is that none of the recent killings of Blacks in the Twin Cities were reasonable and they all without question could have been prevented.

Race is ALWAYS a factor in a racist society!

What Freeman was really saying was that his office looks at each case and determines how they are going to proceed, based on the color of the victim. If the victim is Black the “facts” are arranged in accordance with the unwritten laws of White Supremacy and capitalism, which insists that the system be defended and justified at all costs, so the killer(s) cop is exonerated. The only exception to this is when the crime is so obviously unjustified that the system realizes it cannot defend its lackey without risking major rebellion, as in the LaQuan McDonald and Walter Scott cases where the crimes were on video and indisputable.

The trial revealed that as in all other shootings, the police went into cover up mode afterwards. Minneapolis police initially sought to disparage the victim Ruszczyk, as a drug addict. Police sent the killer cops  in their employ, Mark Ringgenberg (Jamar Clarke) and Dan May (Tycel Nelson) to coach Noor on how to get away with killing Damond. Longtime local activist Kieran Frasier wrote that had the cops found a gun in Damond’s home, “it would have ended up out in the alley [next to her body].”

But the system realized that this was a golden opportunity to appear just and decided to throw Noor “under the bus.” Despite suspicions to the contrary, the system like the cops initially tried to find a way to let Noor off the hook. Knutson pointed out that they may have reconsidered because they did not want the more affluent White folks in Southwest Minneapolis to make common cause with the Black community. And in keeping with the norms of White Supremacy, the Black, Somali, Muslim Noor was the perfect scapegoat.

Ironically, the system’s attempt to appease White folks failed, because Justine’s neighbors rallied to her cause and did not assume that her case would be treated differently than others. And very astutely they made common cause with the relatives of Black and Native victims of police violence as well as with activists who have been on the front lines of the struggle against police violence including this writer.

Noor deserved no extra empathy, he did something wrong he took an innocent life and like the others who wear the uniform, he refused to own up to it. He should have been punished. Folks should not be deceived, when People of Color put on the uniform they become cops first and foremost and see the world and their communities through the judgmental eyes of White Supremacy and the system. He may have been your color, but he is no longer your kind.

And the system never misses as opportunity to make a point. The presence of over 50 sheriffs deputies and Hennepin County security personnel was there to send the message that despite the fact that yet again another representative of the system has committed violence against a human being, it is the Black community, communities of color that are prone to violence. Did they really think Black people were going to storm the courthouse in protest of the verdict? Its called projection or rather “violence baiting.”

Sarah Kuhnen a neighbor and friend of Justine and founding member of Justine for Justice, who is White was not confused at all. “We have to acknowledge that in our city, most victims of police violence are people of color and that racism and white supremacy are the reasons they don’t receive the treatment Justine received. What Justine has gotten we want for everyone.”

As Knutson put it, “this system and its police force was designed to exploit and oppress us, we need our own independent democratic institutions of community defense – and we need to get rid of this system and it’s enforcers.”

Justice then peace

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