Former Minneapolis Police Officer Mohamed Noor’s Tuesday guilty verdict marked an unprecedented moment in Minnesota’s legal history. He was the first officer in the state’s history to be convicted of murder for a shooting committed in the line of duty.
The Noor case flipped the racial narratives surrounding police brutality on their heads. Noor is a black, Muslim, Somali immigrant who killed a white female. Many are looking at this as proof that his conviction was racially motivated, including the Somali American Police Association (SAPA).
“SAPA believes the institutional prejudices against people of color, including officers of color, have heavily influenced the verdict of this case. The aggressive manner in which the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office went after Officer Noor reveals that there were other motives at play other than serving justice,” the group said in a statement.
The organization praised Noor for joining the police force “to make a difference and reflect the community he serves.”
“And while historically it has not been uncommon for minority officers to receive differential treatment, it is discouraging to see this treatment persist in 2019. SAPA fears the outcome of this case will have a devastating effect on police morale and make the recruitment of minority officers all the more difficult,” the statement concludes.
Nekima Levy Armstrong, a prominent Minneapolis-based civil rights attorney, chastised leftist activist Shaun King for describing Noor’s victim as a “sweet woman” and a “kind soul.”
“That has zero to do with whether deadly force was justified in this case. Such descriptors reinforce the false notion that ‘good’ people deserve to live and ‘bad’ people deserve to die,” she wrote on Twitter.
.@shaunking Please stop emphasizing Justine Damond was a “sweet woman” or a “kind soul”. That has zero to do with whether deadly force was justified in this case. Such descriptors reinforce the false notion that “good” people deserve to live and “bad” people deserve to die.
— Nekima Levy Armstrong (formerly Levy-Pounds) (@nvlevy) May 1, 2019
Armstrong posted several videos to her Facebook account Tuesday night with reactions to the verdict, and said she will continue to point out “the hypocrisy in this situation.”
“That hypocrisy includes the fact that a black, Muslim, Somali officer was being treated differently in Hennepin County and by the Minneapolis Police Department and local government leaders in comparison to white male officers who have been the main perpetrators of violence against African Americans, other people of color, and even white people in the state of Minnesota,” she said in one video.
“Not one of those white male officers has been held accountable for killing a civilian under the law, especially not in recent years,” she added.
“First officer convicted in Minnesota for killing a (white) civilian is a black, Muslim, Somali man. Coincidence? I think not,” she said in an another Facebook post.
King said that while he’s “glad” Noor was “found guilty of murder,” he believes that “had the roles been reversed and a white cop killed a black, Muslim immigrant woman, he’d get off.”
“No question. But what we see here is that the protections that cops so often use to justify their murders just didn’t apply with these racial dynamics,” he added.
On Twitter, King insisted that the “verdict has everything to do with race. Everything.”
Mohamed Noor was the FIRST cop EVER convicted of murder in Minnesota.
I can name 10 cases there with more evidence. This case had no body cameras, no recordings, etc.
Again, Noor was absolutely guilty.
But this verdict has everything to do with race. Everything. https://t.co/97H1yHXg8X
— Shaun King (@shaunking) May 1, 2019
Civil rights activist Mel Reeves told The Star Tribune’s Liz Sawyer that the “system has an easier time convicting a black man in a blue uniform.”
“He’s Somali. He’s black. And he’s Muslim … that’s a trifecta,” he added, though he was pleased with the verdict because “the police shouldn’t be above the law.”
Longtime civil rights activist Mel Reeves praised today’s verdict bc “the police shouldn’t be above the law.” But Reeves pointed to a paradox in this case that, he says, made it easier for the jury to convict Noor. “He’s Somali. He’s black. And he’s Muslim…that’s a trifecta”
— Liz Sawyer (@ByLizSawyer) April 30, 2019
Minnesota’s politicians were slightly more diplomatic in their responses to the verdict, but still highlighted the racial elements of the case.
“While today’s verdict may bring closure to some, it will also serve as a reminder of how far we must go to foster trust where it’s been broken. We must acknowledge that historical and ongoing racialized trauma continues to impact our society,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement.
— Mary McGuire (@mcguirereports) April 30, 2019
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) called the verdict an “important step towards justice and a victory for all who oppose police brutality.”
“It cannot be lost, however, that it comes in the wake of acquittals for officers who took the lives of people of color, both in Minnesota and nationwide,” she added. “We must have the same level of accountability and justice in all officer-involved killings and address violence-based training for police officers.”
We must have the same level of accountability and justice in all officer-involved killings. My statement on last night’s Mohamed Noor verdict: pic.twitter.com/WU9bH7e4Vq
— Rep. Ilhan Omar (@Ilhan) May 1, 2019
A jury found Noor guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Tuesday, but acquitted him of second-degree murder. The verdicts carry a maximum sentence of 35 years, though he will reportedly face 10 to 15 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for June 7.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Background Photo “Minnesota Prison” by Elkman. CC BY 2.0.