Minneapolis police shooting victim Justine Damond is apparently the new poster child for police brutality, according to her family’s lawyer, and Black folk are outraged.
Twin Cities attorney Robert Bennett, hired by Damond’s family members earlier this week, described the Australian native as an unlikely victim of what was “quite clearly an improper use of deadly force.” Bennett is seeking justice for the woman’s family after she was fatally shot by police shortly after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault Saturday, July 15.
“It is impossible for me to conceive [Damond] as a threat to anyone,” the family attorney said Thursday, calling the slain woman the “most innocent victim of a police shooting” he had ever seen.
“I mean, she saves ducklings out of the sewer, for God’s sake,” he continued.
The Minneapolis StarTribune reported that Bennett has worked on other high-profile cases of police brutality, including working with the family Philando Castile for a settlement after he was shot and killed by an officer in Falcon Heights last year. He also represented Frank Baker, who was bitten by a police K-9 and assaulted by a St. Paul officer.
“I’m not saying Philando wasn’t innocent, too, or that Frank Baker wasn’t innocent,” Bennett said. “But here’s someone who called the police and was trying to stop someone from being hurt … and ends up being shot in her pajamas.”
Bennett’s comments didn’t go over well with Black social media users, however, who found it appalling that the attorney would make such an argument when there’ve been countless Black victims of police’s deadly use of force who were never described as innocent. Although Damond’s death was equally tragic, some users found it problematic that a white woman was automatically found to be blameless.
Lawyer says white woman killed in Minnesota is “most innocent" police shooting victim. What about Tamir Rice? https://t.co/gFLZtCFnZo
— Aaron L. Morrison (@aaronlmorrison) July 21, 2017
The police have murdered a sleeping 2nd grader, a 12 y/o playing in the park, and an 80+ yr old woman in her home. They weren't white, tho. https://t.co/Tv8LFg7dMI
— Super Ceej 💋 (@ImJustCeej) July 21, 2017
See how whiteness changes the tone. How many black children have been killed by police and they were never described as innocent? https://t.co/i4xqOg5Tin
— cai (@owlbees) July 21, 2017
This is deep white supremacy at work: incapable of seeing white woman as a threat. Incapable of seeing black child as innocent. https://t.co/OURrj6Cpgn
— Baratunde (@baratunde) July 21, 2017
I guesss Aiyana Jones, Tammie Rice, Freddie Gray and so many others were just asking to be killed 🤷🏾♂️
— Kendal Gallimore (@Smooth_Traveler) July 21, 2017
Most innocent aka most white https://t.co/qTNKnUYo9a
— Y (@yaphmarciano) July 21, 2017
Bennett’s controversial comment surrounding Damond’s death hasn’t stopped members of the Minneapolis community from coming together to support one another.
Hundreds of locals rallied in a neighborhood Thursday to mourn and demand justice for the Aussie mother and all other victims of police brutality, HuffPost reported. Damond’s family was surrounded by a number of justice activists from around the U.S., including the family of Philando Castile. Castile’s mother, Valerie, was seen comforting Damond’s fiancé, Don, his son, Zach, and his mother, Sharon Sebring.
The event was organized by Damond’s neighbors, the Women’s March and activist group The New North.
“We gather here to grieve together in solidarity with the families, the families of those killed by police,” Ashley Harness, a local pastor and neighborhood resident, said at the rally. “Justine Damond, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark, Marcus Golden, Tycel Nelson, Terrance Franklin, and all those who have been killed by police in Minnesota and beyond.”
“Help us to bear together in community our grief that looks like everything from tears to rage, all of which are holy.”