Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here’s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.


 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate

Subscribe!
Subscribe





On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.
___________

Syndicate
RSS/XML


RSS 2.0

Slaying in Minneapolis: Justine Damond, shooting cultures and race

By Binoy Kampmark - posted Wednesday, 26 July 2017


It plays out as a horror story of law enforcement. A distress call to the Minneapolis police about activity taking place behind the house on Washburn Avenue, possibly a sound of intercourse, distress, or both, taking place after 11 during the night of July 15. "Hi, I'm, I can hear someone out back and I, I'm not sure if she's having sex or being raped."

The caller, Justine Damond, had been spooked by the commotion. She had called her fiancé in Las Vegas who had, in turn, insisted she call the police. When the officers arrived, an unsuspecting Damond approached the police vehicle, came up to the open window of the driver, Officer Matthew Harrity, and was shot by his partner, Officer Mohamed Noor.

The unfurling story supplied commentators with a different combination from the usual anatomy of an American police shooting. Characters tend to be slotted along defined racial and demographic lines: the indigent black youth butchered in cold blood by a nerve wracked white officer who finds in his gun the most persuasive form of conciliation.

Advertisement

Not so on this occasion. The individual who is said to have pulled the trigger was a black Somali-American, whose hiring by the police department supplied politically correct, multi-culti gold. Similarly, the victim was atypical for the cultural optics, a white Australian woman from Sydney involved in the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community, all-healing, all ashram, all therapeutic.

With the reverse racial splash evident in this incident, comparisons were inevitably drawn. Now, it was time for the Somali-American community to lament. Minneapolis City Council member Abdi Warsame specifically noted remarks made by US Rep. Michele Bachmann that Noor may have had "cultural" reasons for gunning down Damond. "What we are seeing is a lot of rhetoric in the media where this is a Somali issue, where this person is a Somali officer."

Bachmann sports her own extensive laundry list of laments, specifically about Minnesota's shifting demographics. "Minnesota is a state that now has a reputation for terrorism." Politically correct brigades were attempting to muzzle those "afraid of being called 'racist', 'bigots', 'Islamaphobe'." Fearing nothing of the sort, Bachmann described Noor as an "affirmative-action hire by the hijab-wearing mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges."

In the US, logistical matters were picked through with a procedural attention that has become common in these casual civilian executions. The officer, it was noted, had failed to turn on his body camera. The same went for his partner. Fire arm procedures were also pondered.

Both officers had been rather green on the beat. Officer Noor, during his short stint in the force, had already encountered three civilian complaints and a law suit regarding his treatment of a woman during the course of performing a mental health check-up.

In Australia, Damond's death engendered a feeding frenzy across the tabloid scene, a chance to capitalise on America the violent, America the vicious. Christopher Dore of The Daily Telegraph, with stomach churching enthusiasm, called her killing "the best tory for us that day. You know, here's this Aussie girl who goes over to find love. And because of the complications of American policing and guns, she's dead."

Advertisement

Others simply found the idea that such complications could never be replicated in idyllic Australia. An "unhinged gun culture," asserted David Penberthy of Adelaide's The Advertiser, "killed Justine Damond." With soft analysis, Penberthy asserted that she was "the first Australian victim of a gun culture that betrays the promise of America."

The response from a police force caught off guard has also been rattling in its insensibilities. When a shooting incident takes place, blame the deceased whose guilt is taken to the grave. Noor, through his legal representatives, has suggested just that, claiming essentially two things: first, that Damond was in a drug-induced state when she approached the vehicle; second, that being in such a state somehow warranted his actions.

"It would be nice to know," claimed Noor's legal representative on Thursday, "if there was any (prescription sedative) Ambien in her system." It would also be nice to know what darkened state of mind the officers in question were in answering the distress call put out by Damond.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All



Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

5 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with del.icio.us Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

About the Author

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He currently lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and blogs at Oz Moses.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Binoy Kampmark

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Article Tools
Comment 5 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend
Advertisement

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy