Community group pushes for police reform in light of Damond shooting

After Justine Damond's shooting death, at least 100 people came together to turn their sorrow into solutions.

Inside 4200 Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis is where the concerned residents seek justice for Justine, in hopes of making sure no one else has to endure the sudden loss of a loved one at the hands of police.

Communities United Against Police Brutality hosted the meeting in a packed room Tuesday night.

“For those of you who are not woke, life will happen and it will wake you up,” said group member Kimberly Handy Jones.

Jones lost her son Cordale after he was shot by St. Paul police in March and insists that what happened to him and Justine Damond - despite the stark differences in the cases - can happen to anyone.

“A bullet is not marked saying ‘black,’ ‘white,’ ‘hispanic,’ or ‘Asian,’” she said.

She shared her pain to further explore failures of police policy and practices that led to Damond’s death. Some considered this meeting a necessary measure in changing the way incidents are handled.

“[This is] a first step in letting the leadership know that we want change, more than just superficial change,” said Minneapolis resident Janet Contursi.

The group discussed Minneapolis Police’s body camera policy, overall accountability, discipline and training.

“The police force is not going to reform itself,” said member Dave Bicking. “It hasn’t in the past, it won’t in the future; it will only happen when people come together to make sure it happens.”

Bicking believes everyone at the meeting has the same aim: to prevent police from shooting more innocent people.

“The police should be trained to be not so trigger happy, to be not so fearful of the public,” he continued.

Discussions over mixed feelings and the complexity of Damond’s case continued throughout the meeting.

Concerned Minneapolis resident Jean Sutton finds the racial dynamic of the case particularly difficult to ignore.

“There’s a chance of a successful prosecution, and the defendant is black. That bugs me. I think it’s not a good sign,” Sutton reflected aloud.

Meanwhile, others are focused on ensuring Minneapolis' Police Department builds a culture of courage and one dedicated to what it truly means to protect and serve. 

“This is one of the city’s biggest problems,” said resident John Sawyer. “If it’s solved, it can be a much greater place.”

CUAPB members said future community meetings will be planned to take action on the topics and ideas shared among those in attendance Tuesday night.