MINNEAPOLIS – More than three months after a police officer shot and killed Justine Damond, dozens of people gathered at a southwest Minneapolis church to discuss police and community relations.
The community meeting at the Lake Harriet United Methodist Church on Monday night was billed as a “discussion on police violence and Justine Damond’s killing.” And according to the event’s organizers, the group hoped the conversation would address a need for “deep systemic changes in policing.”
“We have dedicated ourselves to understanding in a deep way why policing is so violent in the U.S. and what we can do to help bring about systemic change in policing, so that this violence ends. Not just here in southwest Minneapolis, but across the Twin Cities,” said Sarah Thompson, a neighbor and organizer who read from a prepared statement.
In July, Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor shot and killed Damond after the Australian-born woman called police to report a possible crime occurring near her home.
Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has said he would decide by the end of the year whether Noor would be charged in the case. On Monday night, organizers called on Freeman to make the charging decision before the holidays for the sake of Damond’s family.
Nearly 80 people heard from a panel of presenters, including: Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of the Minnesota branch of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations; Dr. Jason Sole, the president of the Minneapolis NAACP; Monique Cullars-Doty, aunt of Marcus Golden; and Sarah Kuhnen, a neighbor and advocate.
The conversation touched on several topics, from a need for changes in training to the role of race in this particular case.
“This is something we thought maybe happens in other neighborhoods … and what this incident has taught us, is this affects everyone, and that we all need to be involved in solving this problem. It’s going to take everyone from across the city in order to reform the system so that killings like Justine’s never happen again,” said Todd Schuman, a neighbor.
A spokesperson for the Minneapolis Police Department said the department could not comment on an open case.