Best of Neighborhood News 9/5: Motion to dismiss charges in police shooting of Justine Damond

 

The attorneys of Mohamed Noor, the police officer who shot and killed Justine Damond in 2017, have filed to dismiss the charges against Noor on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct and a failure to demonstrate probable cause. The attorneys suggest that statements made by county attorney Mike Freeman undermined Noor’s right to a fair trial. This case is one of 10 fatal police shootings in 2017 alone. “Knowing that the night of July 15th ended in tragedy, it is easy to second-guess the split second decision of Officer Noor to draw his firearm and shoot,” write Noor’s attorneys, Tom Plunkett and Peter Wold, in a Hennepin County District Court filing. The trial for this case is set to begin in late September. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 8/8: No charges filed in police shooting of Thurman Blevins

 

On July 30, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced his decision to not file charges against MPD officers Ryan Kelly and Justin Schmidt. The two officers shot and killed Thurman Blevins during a police investigation on June 23 in the Camden neighborhood. Community members gathered and spoke out in response to the County Attorney’s decision. “This Thurman Blevins case did not happen in a vacuum, it happened as part of a history of corruption at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department,” said civil rights attorney and activist Nekima Levy-Armstrong, adding, “It is not an isolated incident — it is part of a pattern that shows [the MPD] diminish the lives of Black residents in Minneapolis.”

“I don’t want the media and the world to think we are angry. We aren’t angry. Continue Reading

Community Voices: Beyond Repair – While Republicans and Democrats unite to increase police power, others point to new way forward

Virtually unnoticed in the cacophony of the Trumpian news cycle, a bill to place more power in the hands of police slithered through the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support – including from such progressive Democratic luminaries as Luis Gutiérrez, Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison. The “Serve and Protect Act” (H.R.5698) comes packaged as a necessary measure to protect our brave officers “who put on the badge every day to keep us safe” from the dangers of an imaginary “War on Police.” Specifically, it would impose prison terms of up to ten years for harming or attempting to harm officers of any local, state or federal agencies of what is euphemistically called “law enforcement.” If convicted of carrying out or attempting a kidnapping or killing of an officer, the accused could be imprisoned for life. The Senate version even designates police as an oppressed “protected class” under hate crime laws. The legislation is designed to increase police power in communities of color, strengthen the fortress of police impunity and reinforce the plea-bargain-to-prison conveyor belt. Its targets are anyone the police decide they want to see locked up. These are the same police, after all, who routinely insist that children playing with toys, young men shopping at Walmart, residents reaching for their ID, teenagers trying to drive away, neighbors holding cell phones and motorists calmly disclosing their legal firearm to police are aggressors poised to kill them. Continue Reading

Best of Neighborhood News 7/5: MPD officers encouraged use of ketamine to sedate suspects

A new report indicates that the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has encouraged Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to use ketamine to sedate suspects, even in cases when the individual was already restrained and in cases when there was no evidence of any crime committed. The report states that the use of ketamine on those arrested has increased from three usages in 2012 to 67 in 2017. Ketamine is a powerful sedative drug that creates a trance-like state as well as inducing hallucinations and memory loss. “I would say fairly comfortably based on conversations I’ve had with folks [that] it is Black folks who are ‘noncompliant,’ that are being affected the most,” said Ward 4 Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham. “That’s frustrating.”
Read more at The Spokesman-Recorder. Continue Reading

On justice and Mike Freeman’s decision

For me, the issue is justice, and justice was not served by Mike Freeman’s decision. Other articulate people chose words very well: “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” In saying this, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds me about the role of power (at its best). In Mr. Freeman’s decision, we had the power, but in service of an abusive and oppressive system. Mahatma Gandhi had this to say: “There is a higher court than courts of justice, and that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts.” Conscience says that killing an unarmed person is wrong—period! Continue Reading