Minneapolis police remove memorial left by hate group

AP News
Posted: Dec 25, 2017 1:42 PM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minneapolis police have removed a memorial that a white nationalist group created to honor an Australian woman killed by a Somali officer last summer.

Police spokesman John Elder told Minnesota Public Radio News an officer cleared the memorial when the department learned it was displayed outside its headquarters.

"We cannot allow any memorial and anything like that to be put up at that location," Elder told the radio station.

The northern California hate group called Identify Evropa said on its Twitter account it put up the memorial Friday. The group helped organize participants in the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.

The memorial to Justine Ruszczyk Damond consisted of a framed portrait, candles, roses and signs reading "United We Stand." The Star Tribune reported that only the extinguished candles remained Saturday night.

Officer Mohamed Noor shot Damond after she called to report a possible sexual assault in July. No charges have been filed.

Damond, who was engaged to a Minneapolis man, called 911 to report a possible sexual assault behind her home in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Responding officer Matthew Harrity reported being startled by a loud noise near his squad car. Damond, who may have rapped on the car, approached on the driver's side. Harrity's partner, Mohamed Noor, reached across Harrity from the passenger seat and fired. Damond died at the scene

The memorial was placed on a sidewalk near an intersection outside the police station.

Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman has yet to decide whether to file criminal charges against Noor. Freeman expressed frustration during a union holiday reception earlier this month, telling activists that he didn't have enough evidence to charge Noor and said investigators "haven't done their job." He also suggested Noor's refusal to speak to investigators had put prosecutors in a difficult position.

"I have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, (that) the moment he shot the gun, he feared for his life. And he used force because he thought he was gonna be killed," Freeman said. "But I can't. He won't answer my questions because he doesn't have to, OK?"

Freeman later apologized to investigators and said his comments were ill-advised.