The family of Justine Damond, the Australian woman shot and killed by a Minneapolis police officer responding to her 911 call, and hundreds of demonstrators gathered Thursday evening near the late meditation teacher’s home for a march against police killings.
Chanting “Justice for Justine” and carrying signs calling for police reforms, the demonstrators marched from the steps of Damond’s home in southwest Minneapolis to nearby park.
While her family made no public announcement, they waved to marchers passing by and her fiancé, Don Damond, shed tears while greeting well-wishers.
“I just hope this March can do something positive,” Barb Kattner, a local resident who came to the March, told Fox News. “We need something that can really unite us.”
Along with Damond’s friends and neighbor, the March for Healing and Justice was joined by local faith leaders, a contingent from Women’s March MN and members from the Twin Cities chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Chauntyll Allen, an organizer with Black Lives Matter, told Fox News that Damond’s killing rises above the issue of race and shows that police violence has become an endemic problem.
“This transcends it,” she said. “It shows issues on a couple different layers, first and foremost the militarized police state that shoots first and asks questions later.”
Damond, a spiritual healer and life coach who was due to be married in August, called 911 twice on Saturday night to report an alleged sexual assault in the alley behind her home. When Minneapolis police officers Mohamed Noor and Matthew Harrity arrived on scene, they heard a loud bang before Damond approached the driver’s side of the police car.
Noor, who sitting in the passenger seat, fired his gun and hit Damond in the abdomen. In a statement, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled Damond’s death a homicide and said she died Saturday at 11:51 p.m. in the alleyway.
The killing of Damond has once again dredged up resentment toward a police department that has been embroiled in controversy in recent years over the actions of its officers.
Last year, 32-year-old Philando Castile was killed by an officer during a traffic stop in a nearby suburb after he told the officer he was armed. The officer was acquitted in June of manslaughter and other charges.
In November 2015, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Jamar Clark during a struggle in which the officer said Clark grabbed his partner’s weapon.
Members of Castile’s were also present at the march and the organizers notes on the march’s Facebook page that the event was intended to “seek healing, Justice for Justine, and justice for ALL others that died at the hands of the police.”
Despite the march being partly organized by Damond’s family and friends, some people who gathered before the event began said they believe Damond would not have wanted a demonstration like this.
“This is not what she would have wanted,” Laurie Savren, a Minneapolis resident and fellow spiritual healer, told Fox News.