These Signs Reflect the Distrust a Major City Has For Its Police

July 24th 2017

Mike Rothschild

In the wake of the shooting of Justine Damond by a Minneapolis police officer who claimed to have been "startled by a loud sound," official looking signs went up in the Twin Cities for residents.

"Warning: Twin Cities Police Easily Startled"

One of the signs was discovered in the Minneapolis neighborhood of Cedar-Riverside and it read: "WARNING: TWIN CITIES POLICE EASILY STARTLED."

At least two of the orange signs were spotted in the Twin Cities, one each in Minneapolis and St. Paul, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune. There was no indication as to who made the signs, and as of early Monday morning, city work crews had taken them down, according to local station KARE.

The circumstances of the July 15 shooting of the 40-year-old Australian woman were shrouded in mystery for several days. Damond called the police to respond to what she believed was a sexual assault taking place in the alley behind her Minneapolis home. When police arrived, she spent several minutes talking to the driver, only to be shot once through the driver's side window by Officer Mohamed Noor, a two-year veteran of the police force.

While Noor refused to be interviewed by investigators, his partner, Officer Matthew Harrity, told authorities that they were "startled by a loud sound" they heard while speaking to Damond. The nature of that sound might never be known as both officers had their body cameras turned off, and there was no dash-cam footage. There were also questions about the timing of the sound, as Harrity claimed he heard it after Damond had already started speaking to him.

The signs reflect anxiety about not only the Damond shooting, but another recent police shooting in Minneapolis, that of Philando Castile.

Castile was shot seven times during a traffic stop, after declaring to a Minneapolis police officer that he had a registered firearm. Officer Jeronimo Yanez was described as "not in control" and "nervous" by the attorney for Castile's girlfriend, who witnessed the shooting. Yanez also claimed he feared for his life, despite never seeing a firearm and reacting with deadly force before Castile could even finish declaring that he had a weapon in the car.

In the wake of the Damond and Castile shootings, as well as questions about the training and recruitment of Minneapolis police officers, the city's police chief, Janeé Harteau, was asked to resign by the mayor, who claimed she had "lost confidence" in Harteau. ATTN: reached out to the Minneapolis Police Department for a comment, but did not receive a response.

Ironically, while the signs in the Twin Cities are clearly fake, it's actually legal for police to use fake signs in traffic stops. As one example, police in two separate towns in Ohio have used fake speed limit signs in drug stings during 2013 and 2015, with civil liberties advocates crying foul both times.

According to social media posts, the fake signs in the Twin Cities were quickly taken down.