By Katie Kieffer
“I can hear someone out back and I, I’m not sure if she’s having sex or being raped,” Justine Damond told a Minneapolis, MN police dispatcher at 11:27 p.m. on July 15. Eight minutes passed. No squad car. She re-dialed 911.
Minutes earlier, Damond had been awakened from sleep by a female’s chilling scream. The sound was particularly startling in a neighborhood known for low crime and peaceful streets. After calling the police, Damond called her fiancé and said the sound seemed to be coming from a neighbor’s garage.
Damond’s heart was too big to crawl back in bed when she sensed another woman hurting nearby. Her first instinct was always to help. A few weeks earlier, she had jumped—barefoot—into a drain to rescue a flock of eight ducklings. A personal coach, she spent her days trying to uplift others. So it probably didn’t occur to her that she could be in more danger than the owner of the scream.
When two officers eventually pulled into the alleyway behind her home, Damond walked toward the squad car window to greet them—still wearing her pajamas.
A bullet tore through her abdomen. The cop she had called for help had shot her.
Officer Mohamed Noor had reached across his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, from the passenger seat to fire the shot. Noor’s aim was true. By 12:45 a.m., the 40-year-old Australian-American woman with blond hair, green eyes and a megawatt smile was dead.
The Sound of Silence
One year ago in Minnesota, a Hispanic police officer named Jeronimo Yanez shot an African American man named Philando Castile in self-defense. “I thought I was going to die. I had no choice,” Yanez testified at his trial for second-degree manslaughter.
A jury found Yanez not guilty on all counts.
But Yanez’ foremost crime for which no jury could ever clear him was that he was not black and he had killed a black man. Despite research showing that black suspects are killed more often by a black officer than a white officer, the Minneapolis community—and national Black Lives Matter movement—erupted in rage.
“I think he was just black in the wrong place,” Castile’s mother Valerie said after her son’s death. Anger is understandable after a loved one dies. But it’s wrong to let one’s anger blind the facts and conclude that every black who dies at the hands of a non-black cop is killed out of racism and that whites never experience racism.
Unfortunately, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton made those presumptions. Following Castile’s death, Gov. Dayton declared: “Would this have happened if … the driver and passenger would have been white? I don’t think it would.”
Black Lives Matter took a cue from Gov. Dayton’s words. At 10:30 p.m. on the night of Yanez’ acquittal, some 2,000 people took to the streets of Minneapolis. They shut down a major highway, Interstate I-94, and wouldn’t budge for hours. Violence and destruction—not peace—was the hallmark of the protest. At least 21 Minnesota police officers were injured by protesters and hundreds of arrests were made at similar protests nationwide.
But when a black officer shot a white woman—an officer with three separate open investigations into his behavior who violated police rules by shutting off his body camera; by shooting across his partner; and by shooting in the absence of a reasonable threat—you could practically hear crickets chirping.
That is, until Gov. Dayton broke the silence by prematurely siding with Noor and stating that his behavior is not indicative of a “trigger-happy” police force.
Perhaps Gov. Dayton was emulating President Obama, who did the same thing in 2012. Before anyone knew the facts, President Obama rushed to a public microphone and declared an African American teenager named Trayvon Martin “my son.”
We soon learned from eyewitness accounts and expert forensic testimony that Martin was not as innocent as Obama’s I Am Your Father speech made him sound. On the evening of February 28, 2012, Martin had pummeled a Hispanic man named George Zimmerman in an MMA-style “ground and pound” mount and reached for Zimmerman’s gun while shouting “You’re going to die tonight!” before Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense.
The selective silence of Black Lives Matter (a group that purports to fight police violence)—and the ridiculous comments of Gov. Dayton—in the wake of Damond’s death are alarming. Because, rather than promoting peace, Black Lives Matter and Gov. Dayton appear to be fostering racism.
Justice for Janine
We still need to hear all the facts of this case. But the key fact is that an innocent woman died while she was trying to help another woman. And next to no one seems to care. Because she happened to be white and her killer happened to be black.
The Minneapolis Police Department and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges fast-tracked Noor as part of the City’s “diversity” efforts and goals. But no city in America should have to accept ill-qualified persons into its police force in order to fulfill diversity goals.
May Justine Damond’s tragic death ultimately be a tribute to her life by reminding us that political correctness can be fatally destructive. To save lives, we must seek the truth in every story. Pass this message on.