JUAN GONZÁLEZ: We begin today in Minneapolis, where fallout continues following the fatal police shooting of an unarmed Australian woman.
Transcripts reveal 40-year-old resident JustineRuszczyk called 911 twice to report a possible sexual assault outside her home a week ago, before she was shot dead by an officer responding to the emergency calls.
The city’s beleaguered police chief, JaneeHarteau, resigned Friday at the request of the mayor amid growing calls by activists.
This is Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
MAYOR BETSY HODGES: As far as we have come, Chief Harteau is not in a position to lead us further.
And from the many conversations I’ve hadwith people around our city, especially this week, I know that some in Minneapolis havelost confidence in police leadership.
For us to continue to transform policing andcommunity trust in policing, both the chief and I concluded we need new leadership atMPD.
In conversation with the chief today, sheand I agreed that she would step aside to make way for new leadership.
And I asked Chief Harteau for her resignation.
She tendered it, and I have accepted it.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: According to the MinnesotaDepartment of Public Safety, officer Mohamed Noor was startled by a loud sound shortlybefore Ruszczyk approached his police cruiser.
Noor, who was seated in the passenger seat, shot her through the open driver’s-side window of the vehicle.
Noor has apologized to the family of JustineRuszczyk, who often went by her fiancé’s last name, Damond.
Noor has declined to speak with investigatorsand has hired an attorney.
AMY GOODMAN: The killing came just weeks aftera suburban Twin Cities police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, was acquitted on manslaughter chargesof shooting African-American motorist Philando Castile in 2016.
During the mayor’s announcement, anti-policeviolence activists stormed the news conference, demanding Hodges also step down.
They said her leadership as mayor of Minneapoliswas ineffective and that the Minneapolis Police Department had terrorized them enough.
PROTESTER 1: We’re asking for your promptresignation.
We don’t want you as our mayor of Minneapolisanymore.
We’re asking that you take your staff withyou.
We don’t want you to appoint anybody anymore.
Your leadership has been very ineffective.
And if you don’t remove yourself, we’regoing to put somebody in place to remove you.
We do not want you as the mayor of Minneapolisever again.
We would like for you to move out of our city.
Your police department has terrorized us enough! PROTESTER 2: The former chief wasn’t doingher job, but we understand it’s beyond the chief, that the problem is institutional, right? If it was not institutional, then those cameraswould have been—those body cameras would have been on the police the other day.
AMY GOODMAN: Officer Noor and his partnerhave been placed on administrative leave while the shooting is investigated.
Noor is the first Somali-American officerin his precinct.
For more, we’re joined by two guests.
Samantha Pree-Stinson is an organizer withthe Twin Cities movement to end police killing and police brutality.
She’s a Green Party candidate for City Councilin Minneapolis.
And Phil Stinson—no relation—is a criminologistand associate professor at Criminal Justice Program at Bowling Green State Universityin Ohio.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Samantha Pree-Stinson, can you start off byjust explaining when this happened and what you understand took place? It is a very surprising story, as this womanthinks she’s hearing a rape outside.
She calls the police, waits another coupleof minutes—they don’t come—calls again.
When they come, it’s like what? One and 1:30 in the morning.
She comes out in her pajamas to speak to thepolice, comes to the driver’s side of the police cruiser.
And she is immediately shot in the abdomenby Mohamed Noor, the police officer in the passenger seat, shooting across and in frontof his police partner.
This is apparently what has been said, becausethey had video cam on them, each officer, but they didn’t turn it on.
Can you take it from there, and what has beenthe response and why we don’t know more? SAMANTHA PREE-STINSON: Well, for one thing, we don’t know more, because there’s no visual evidence.
And as you stated, the officer has chosennot to speak, and to execute his constitutional right not to.
The BCA, who’s investigating it, cannotforce him to speak.
And the officer who was in the driver’sside, you know, spoke very little about what he knew.
But what we have—within just the last coupleof days, what we have come to know is that, actually, some residents have come forwardthat did see something.
What we saw—what they saw, we still don’tknow.
And in addition to that, the report of thegentleman on the bicycle, who was reported to have been in the alley at the time of theincident, also has come forward.
And we’ve also learned that a citizen didrecord some video.
But those details, other—outside of that, other details have not developed yet at this point.
And I do find it very interesting, the speedof the information that has come out, which we’ve never seen anything like this beforein Minneapolis with previous cases, to include Philando Castile.
And now, all of the sudden, now that thereis video that has surfaced and witnesses that have stepped forward, we’ve stopped hearinganything.
So it’s very interesting and telling, andit has residents very heightened.
And a historic movement has started here, boots on the ground in Minneapolis, as a result, starting from the verdict of Philando Castile, moving forward to what we’ve seen with Justine Damond.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Phil Stinson, what aboutthis issue—oh, I’m sorry, well, Samantha, I wanted to ask you, in terms of the proteststhat have developed, there were some who were claiming initially that the Black Lives Mattermovement would not get involved in this particular case, since it was the death of a white womanat the hands of a police officer, but that’s been proven to be false.
Could you talk about that, as well? SAMANTHA PREE-STINSON: Yes, that’s correct.
So, Black Lives Matter’s Twin Cities hasbeen involved.
And the reason why is this.
The reason why the Black Lives Matter organizationstarted, to begin with, was because we know that black lives are not treated as—we knowthat they matter, but they’re not treated as if they are.
And we have factual evidence to prove wherethat’s been happening, time and time again, where black lives have been treated as secondary.
But that’s just the reason for why the groupformed.
Their overall—their overall reason for existing, as far as the work that they do, pertains to police and justice, as far as killingsand brutality, overall, regardless of the identity of the victims.
So, it made perfect sense for us, who haveworked with the group and are familiar here locally with the—and familiar with the workthat they did, that they would get involved and that they did show up, so that that wasn’tsurprising to me.
But the other thing is that we have had anissue with reporting locally, which does feed in nationally, as well, because with thismovement, there are rallies that happened before the actual marches occur.
And at these rallies, we have local speakers—someare faith-based, some are with organizations, some are candidates—that come together tobring the community together, so that everybody can have a chance to speak and share theirvoice and bring us together as a community and heal, before we start these protests orthese marches.
So, that’s another piece that is usuallynever covered.
And then, the case of the recent one thatoccurred over this last Friday, when we got to City Hall, marching from the park to CityHall, we found that the doors were locked.
And that was just unacceptable, that a—CityHall is a public building that our public dollars, our tax dollars, pay for, to includethe mayor’s salary, to include that microphone that she made her statement on.
So, for her to lock the public out of a publicconference was unacceptable.
It was completely unacceptable.
But we were able to strategically put ourminds together, and we were able to get into City Hall.
And then you saw what happened as a result, where the demands were placed upon the mayor that not only was the symbolic resignationof the chief not enough, but we expect for her to go, as well, come November 7th, whenwe have our election.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to the statementby Minnesota State Representative Ilhan Omar.
She’s the country’s first Somali-AmericanMuslim legislator.
Again, Mohamed Noor is the first Somali-Americanpolice officer, and he is the man that shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk.
The state representative, Omar, writes, “Theidealist in me continues to be surprised, but I know this incident is another resultof excessive force and violence-based training for supposed peace officers.
Changing the body camera policy won’tsolve the inherent problem.
The current officer training program indoctrinatesindividuals of all races into a system that teaches them to act first, think later, andjustify with fear.
It’s time we explore solutions beyond improvedtraining and cameras to capture evidence.
We need to look at a complete shift in theculture of the police department, away from the use of lethal force and deadly weapons.
” That, again, is the commentary of the Minnesotastate representative, Ilhan Omar, the country’s first Somali-American elected state official.
And I wanted to go back to our guest, SamanthaPree-Stinson, to ask your response to what she said.
SAMANTHA PREE-STINSON: Well, absolutely.
What people need to remember is, they needto go back in history and realize that it is law enforcement.
They were never meant to be peacekeepers.
They were meant—if you go all the way backto the beginning of when law enforcement started, their purpose was to keep the slaves on theplantation.
They were meant to control and keep peoplein line, rank and file, just as we see today with our Minneapolis police force.
That hasn’t changed.
This is a militarized culture.
I, myself, am a veteran.
It’s very similar to what happens in basictraining.
You are no longer an individual.
You are part of a collective in a group.
And you act the same, you think the same, you think as a unit.
And if anybody, you know, does their own thing, there are reprimands, there are repercussions for that.
Our police department is similar in that mindset, in that that is the culture of policing.
So, simply changing the culture of policing, that is not even going to be good enough, because the existence and the reason for whywe have law enforcement, again, is to keep people in line and to control people and toenforce the law.
But the problem with that is that there iszero accountability.
And even within the law, the way that it iswritten, the beginning of the law sounds just fine to make you believe that there is someaccountability there.
However, they have included the word “fear.
” And fear is something that a body cam cannotcapture.
That is subjective.
That is something that is personal that youfeel.
So it’s very hard to prove, regardless ofwhat you see on a camera, that an officer didn’t feel fear.
So we have to start with changing the law.
We have to change the entire way that we lookat what our community needs.
Do we need law enforcement in the way thatit’s been driven into our heads to believe that we need it? And the answer is no.
So, all answers need to be on the table.
We need to have all voices at the table inthis.
This isn’t about being left or right.
This is about moving forward.
So we need to have all solutions at the table.
They should all be valid.
They should all be relevant and be lookedinto further, as far as how they can be applied to our communities to best serve our residentsand keep us safe and keep our communities healthy and thriving.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Samantha Pree-Stinson, I wantedto ask you about Mayor Hodges.
She was elected four years ago at the headof a liberal-progressive coalition.
There were a lot of hopes for her mayoralty.
But then she came under increasing attackfrom the police union, as well.
And then, after the Philando Castile tragedy, she asked for a Justice Department investigation.
What’s gone wrong with Betsy Hodges? And as you mentioned, she’s up for re-electionin November.
SAMANTHA PREE-STINSON: Mm-hmm.
Well, there’s been a lot of scrutiny ofBetsy and people thinking that—or Mayor Hodges, that this is an issue of being a woman.
But the fact of the matter is, is that leadershipdoesn’t have a gender.
You’re either—you’re either a good leaderor a bad leader, or you’re a leader who is moving forward or a leader who is inept.
And we’ve seen multiple examples of ineptitude, not only with Mayor Hodges, but within City Council as a whole.
There’s a lack of accountability there, the fact that they don’t listen to the community.
The issue that happened at the Fourth Precinctwas a result of communities coming together, different organizations, residents comingtogether to have their voices amplified, to bring up things that they know, as being residents, as being people of color, being people who are oppressed.
And that lack of just—just listening, that’sall that needed to be done, was to listen and bring those voices to the table.
But instead, it was escalated, really, forno reason.
A DOJ investigation resulted.
The DOJ report is back and has been back forseven months.
We have seen little to no movement since thatDOJ report came out to address what they found was going well and what wasn’t going sowell.
And what was discovered is that one of themain issues is that we have a communication breakdown.
And what people need to realize about Minneapolisis that we have three separate units of police that answer to different authorities.
We have our Metro Transit police, who answersto the Met Council.
The Met Council is appointed by Governor Dayton.
We have our Minneapolis Police Department, who essentially answers to city leadership, the mayor and the council.
And then you have the parks police, whichis a separate entity that operates under the parks board, to a certain extent, which isa separate entity that—of elected officials that do not answer to city leadership.
So you have three separate—and that doesn’teven count the sheriff, the Hennepin County.
So you have three separate authorities thatare not communicating.
There is no intergovernmental communication.
We have not seen any prioritization as faras what was seen in the DOJ report and listening to our communities, those of color and justas, in general, our residents in our community.
And as a result, we see exactly what has happened.
There’s been more than enough opportunitiesfor us to step up to the plate and acknowledge the fact that Minneapolis is the third worstmetro in this nation for people of color.
And nobody wants to own that metric, prioritizeit into the work that we need to do to this city.
And speaking about progressiveness, the favoritequote for people that claim to be progressive is to quote the late, great Paul Wellstonein talking about, you know, “people do better when we all do better.
” Well, if that’s the case, then we shoulddefinitely be prioritizing this diversity metric of being the third worst metro, becauseif that is true, when we recognize that this is a true fact, that we’re the third worstmetro, and we prioritize it to change these needs for our city and actually invest inevery corner of our city and not just the affluent ones, we will all be doing inherentlybetter.
So we have to stop with the symbolic changes.
And we have to start not trimming the leavesoff the plant, but we have to get to the root of it.
We have to rip it out.
We have to put in new seeds, and we have tocultivate it.
And that starts with listening and with ourcommunities and about setting real priorities about the race issues that we have in thiscity and the double standards, such as we see with Noor.
AMY GOODMAN: Samantha Pree-Stinson, we wantto thank you for being with us, organizer with the Twin Cities movement to end policekilling and police brutality, Green Party candidate for the City Council in Minneapolis.