Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, who was killed by a cop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights in July 2016, joined the protest, hugging Damond’s fiancé. “This is not a black or white thing,” she told the rally before the march. “This is a human being thing.”
Damond, originally from Australia, was Caucasian and Castile was African-American.
Jeronimo Yanez, the cop who killed Castile, was acquitted in June. “Like I said after the verdict, I knew they were going to kill again,” Valerie Castile told the rally. “And they have.”
The crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace, prosecute the police!”
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, charged with investigating Damond’s shooting, is not making any further information public. Noor, one of a handful of Somali-American officers on the force, has refused to be questioned.
There is no video recording of the killing as neither Noor nor his partner Matthew Harrity had turned on their body cameras or the videocam in their squad car.
The two cops had been sent to respond to a 911 call from Damond, who reported she heard what sounded like a sexual assault in the alley behind her home. When she walked up to the cops’ car in her pajamas, Noor shot her in the stomach.
The rally drew participants from the surrounding neighborhood and from across the Twin Cities, including a number who had been active in protests since the killing of Castile.
“We really need to go deep with this and follow through with this and people need to be heard,” marcher Julie Shannon told KARE 11 news. “And as a whole system things need to change because this isn’t OK.”
The following day, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges asked for and got the resignation of Police Chief Janeé Harteau.
There is widespread discussion and debate about what can be done to curtail cop abuse among working people and capitalist politics in the city. Robert Bennett, the lawyer for the Damond family, called for more rigorous procedures for hiring of cops, better police training, and more exacting instructions covering cop use of body and squad car cameras. Somali-American City Council member Abdi Warsame, called for the city to find a different police chief who could provide “fundamental change.”
“No amount of so-called de-escalation training, sensitivity training, body cameras and community policing programs will change the nature of the police,” Socialist Workers candidate for mayor David Rosenfeld said in a public statement. “Like every aspect of the criminal “justice” system, cop brutality is an essential part of how the rulers protect their interests.
“The fight against police brutality,” and the call for the prosecution of Noor and Yanez, Rosenfeld said, “is part of a bigger fight to unify the working class and act in solidarity with all who are exploited and oppressed.”
“I think the cop needs to go to jail, there’s no reason for the shooting,” one worker told Rosenfeld as he and other SWP members campaigned on doorsteps in north Minneapolis July 22. “It doesn’t matter if the police officer is white or Black,” he said.
“The problem is the character of the police, not the individual,” Rosenfeld replied. “And the only way to change their behavior is to send them to jail when they kill us.”
Angus Knowles, a union bus mechanic, told SWP campaigners Kevin Dwire and Jacquie Henderson that he didn’t think workers should have any confidence in the cops. “When something happens around here,” he said, standing in his front yard, “I’m not going to call the cops. That’s just asking for more trouble.”
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