Saturday, July 22, 2017

Justine Damond Shooting

One of the most predictable occurrences in life is that many people simply do not understand or empathize with certain situations until they experience them. People who privately sneer at interracial children may change their tune when their child marries someone of a different race and they receive mixed grandchildren. People who make gay jokes often stop when their brother or sister comes out to them over Thanksgiving dinner. And people who support lifetime limits on insurance or medical settlements start singing a different tune when a drunk driver leaves them either paralyzed or in unending pain for the rest of their life, but the insurance company only provides a piddling payout that will be spent in less than a year. When people who look a certain way have problems with heroin or prescription pill addiction the media depicts them as sympathetic fellow citizens who need help and understanding. They certainly aren't subhuman inner city junkies who need to be locked up en masse. This is unfortunately the way that some people are built. Many of us can't empathize with those in pain unless those people look like us or are us. The latest example of this is taking place in the media reactions to the Justine Damond shooting. Justine Damond was a Caucasian Australian woman who called the Minneapolis Police Department to report what she thought was a possible sexual assault in the area.

As Damond was either talking to or approaching the police, possibly leaning through the driver's window or close to the driver's window, the passenger in the police car, Officer Mohammad Noor, a Somali-American, shot her through the driver's door, killing her. Supposedly both police officers had their body cameras off, which was against policy. More information is coming out on Noor and some previous complaints about him or issues that he has.

Forklift driver Chris Miller, 49, has lived next door for the past two years and said he wasn’t surprised to learn Noor was the policeman making international headlines for firing on Ms Damond after she called 911 about what she thought was a sexual assault in the alley behind her house. “He is extremely nervous ... he is a little jumpy ... he doesn’t really respect women, the least thing you say to him can set him off,” Mr Miller said.“When they say a policeman shot an Australian lady I thought uh, oh but then when they said who it was I was like, ‘OK.’”

He said Noor, who has refused to explain to investigators what led him to shoot dead bride-to-be Damond, was a strict and ill-tempered presence in the townhouse block, where children play together in a playground in a small park between the units. “He has little respect for women he has little respect for blacks and kids,” said Mr Miller, who is African-American. “He has an air like you just couldn’t really be around him.” 

Noor’s partner, Officer Matt Harrity, told investigators from Minnesota’s Bureau of Crime Apprehension the 31 year old rookie cop shot Ms. Damond as she approached their squad car just as a loud noise erupted. 
One big difference between this shooting and previous police shootings is that the officer is black and the citizen is white. That really shouldn't matter of course. Right is right and wrong is wrong. But we have seen a plethora of police abuse and killings of black citizens in which prosecutors and grand juries have simply refused to indict or trial juries have stubbornly refused to convict white officers, regardless of the circumstances. It has gotten to the point now where if a black person is killed or beaten by the police I never expect that a jury will find that police officer guilty. This case may be different because the victim of the police action is white. Because she is white, we have not seen the following reactions from conservative/mainstream media.
  • Let's not rush to judgment here. 
  • She was no angel. Her ex-boyfriend's sister's cousin had some nasty things to say about her.
  • The police have a tough job. I feel for the officer. Let's start a Gofundme campaign!
  • We don't know what the officer perceived, okay? 
  • How do we know she wasn't high on drugs? 
  • You know she got a speeding ticket once right? That shows willingness to defy the law.
  • This could be a tragedy but we can't second guess split second decisions.
  • Why was she so close to the police in the first place. That was her mistake. 
  • Obviously she must have mouthed off to the cops. Little Aussie thuggette got what she deserved.
  • Hey she was living in a dangerous area. Of course the cops will be on edge!
  • If she had just followed the officer's instructions this wouldn't have happened!
  • Sure ok this was bad but actually white women are more likely to be killed by their husbands or boyfriends than cops so what are you doing about white-on-white violence?
Those reactions, ugly and nasty as many of them are, are pretty much par for the course any time a black person is killed or assaulted by the police. Instead in this case we have outrage from media about trigger happy cops, immediate distancing from the accused officer by the police department and political leadership, the mayor firing the police chief, and baseless speculation from bigots that Noor's presumed religion just must have played a part in his "obviously criminal" actions. Black people who have done nothing other than open a door or play in the park or startle a police officer or follow an officer's instructions have been killed by police who haven't suffered any consequences. As with much else in America, perhaps if the faces of victims of police brutality become white in the public mind, we'll see more steps taken to change the general police immunity from consequences for their violence. But I wouldn't count on it.

I am sorry that Justine Damond is dead. I am also very sorry that Tamir Rice and Philando Castille and Terence Crutcher and Aiyana Jones and Samuel DuBose and John Crawford and Akai Gurley and many others are dead. Their killers never faced justice. Their families loved them just as much as Justine Damond's family loved her. We need to have the same outrage about anyone wrongfully killed by the police, regardless of their race, nationality or looks.You ignore a problem in one area, sooner or later it's going to show up in your area.
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