MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — While we still don’t know all the details of what led to the shooting of Justine Damond by a Minneapolis police officer, we do know her death has put an unwelcome spotlight on a Twin Cities community.
Damond, who was unarmed, was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor last weekend. The 40-year-old yoga teacher called 911 to report a possible rape in the alley of her home in the 5100 block of Washburn Avenue South.
Noor, who is Somali, has drawn criticism for not only his actions, but also his race. A city councilman is now speaking up for people in the Somali community. He says some of them are afraid.
That’s Council Member Abdi Warsame. He said he’s troubled that the actions of one police officer are being connected to an entire community.
He doesn’t want Noor’s race or religion to be part of the conversation.
“I’ve heard others describe this as a terrorist act, as a Muslim against a Christian,” Warsame said.
Speaking outside a cultural center in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame said the intense focus on Officer Mohammed Noor’s race has left the Somali community there shaken.
“That’s very dangerous because you’re seeing the action of one individual member of the police department being given to the whole community,” Warsame said.
He specifically called out former Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann for her recent comments, insinuating Justine Damond was shot because of cultural reasons. He also condemned Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and the former Police Chief Janee Harteau for being so quick to judge what happened last week.
“I think they should have held off on that, I think everybody should have given an opportunity. We’re a nation of law and without having the facts in front of us we shouldn’t jump the gun,” Warsame said.
But Councilman Warsame stopped short of giving his opinion on the mounting calls for Mayor Betsy Hodges to resign.
“I’m not going to answer that question,” he said.
Instead focusing on changes to police oversight, he said he supports an independent civilian board. One that could discipline police misconduct, and prioritize reform before more police officers are added to the force.
“This is not a Muslim problem, this is not an immigrant problem. It’s a policing problem and that’s what we need to look into,” Warsame said.
Warsame said he has not spoken to officer Noor and he has never met him. While he didn’t give a direct opinion on Noor’s reaction in the shooting, he vowed to seek justice for Justine Damond and he did say it was unacceptable for the body cameras were off.