Somali community defends Muslim cop who shot Australian woman

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The Somalian community in Minneapolis has publicly claimed that the response to the fatal shooting of Justine Ruszczyk by police officer Mohamed Noor is racist and Islamophobic.

Joined by members of the Somalian community, Minneapolis City Council Member Abdi Warsame criticized the “intense focus” on Officer Noor’s ethnicity and religion.

“Since Justine’s death, there has been an intense focus on Officer Noor, blaming his actions on his race, ethnicity, and religion,” Warsame said.

“Former congresswoman Michelle Bachman insinuated that Noor might have shot Justine for cultural reasons. I’ve heard others describe this tragedy as a terrorist act carried out by a Muslim against a Christian. These horrific statements are dangerous and purely divisive,” Warsame contended. “They hurt our east African and immigrant neighbors and friends.”

Warsame also criticized the media, asserting that they have unfairly focused on Noor’s ethnicity.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of rhetoric in the media, where this is a Somali issue, where this person is a Somali officer,” he said. “No, this man is an American citizen. When other officers committed such acts it wasn’t ‘Norwegian’ or ‘German’ or ‘white’ or ‘Protestant’ or ‘Catholic.’ All of a sudden, it is a Muslim problem. I think it is racist, it is unacceptable.”

Warsame specifically condemned tabloid news outlets.

“For them to have a headline ‘Somali cop killer,’ that is unacceptable,” he said.

Warsame also criticized “some of the tabloids in Australia” but did not cite any by name.

Noor fatally shot Ruszczyk, 40, on July 15 after being dispatched to investigate a possible sexual assault occurring behind Ruszczyk’s Minneapolis home, as reported in two calls to 911 by Ruszczyk.

Following the arrival of the officers, Ruszczyk was speaking to Noor’s partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, when Noor shot her in the stomach.

Neither officer who responded to the call had activated their body cameras prior to the incident.

Noor has refused to speak with state investigators regarding the shooting and is not legally obligated to do so.

After encountering widespread criticism following the fatal shooting, Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau resigned. Her resignation was announced on the Minneapolis Police Department’s Facebook page.

“Over the 30+ years that I’ve served as a police officer in the City of Mpls, moving up through the ranks to Police Chief, I have woken up every day knowing that this job is not about me,” Harteau’s post read. “It is about the members of the communities that we serve and the police officers who protect our residents. I am proud of the great work the MPD has accomplished. For example, I am proud we are already a leader in 21st Century and community policing. 

“However, last Saturday’s tragedy, as well as some other recent incidents, have caused me to engage in deep reflection. The recent incidents do not reflect the training and procedures we’ve developed as a Department. Despite the MPD’s many accomplishments under my leadership over these years and my love for the City, I have to put the communities we serve first.

“I’ve decided I am willing to step aside to let a fresh set of leadership eyes see what more can be done for the MPD to be the very best it can be.”

The tragedy is still under investigation.

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