Rally calls for investigation into police-caused deaths

Ahmed Gulad’s father, center, holds back tears as his son Assad Ali, left, speaks about his slain older brother Wednesday afternoon in north Minneapolis.

Steve Maturen

Ahmed Gulad’s father, center, holds back tears as his son Assad Ali, left, speaks about his slain older brother Wednesday afternoon in north Minneapolis.

Under gray skies and icy rain, Ahmed GuladâÄôs family huddled together Wednesday by a north Minneapolis park on the street where, last week, police shot and killed their brother, son and nephew. As they spoke to a crowd of about 40 supporters at a rally organized by Communities United Against Police Brutality (CUAPB), family members wept and called for an independent investigation into GuladâÄôs Feb. 5 death. According to Minneapolis police, the killing was labeled as a âÄújustified homicide,âÄùâÄô as the officers involved said they felt their lives were threatened by Gulad, 23. While Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said the police video camera corroborates the officersâÄô details of the events, CUAPB President Michelle Gross and GuladâÄôs family believes his death was unnecessary. Through a translator, GuladâÄôs grandmother said the family recently moved from Somalia to Minneapolis. After escaping unrest in their war-torn homeland, she said, Gulad fell victim to violence in America. âÄúThe bullet of the government thatâÄôs supposed to save him, killed him,âÄù she said. GuladâÄôs father said through a translator that he expected the city to take the case seriously. The family also said the police have shown little sympathy since GuladâÄôs death, and approached CUAPB along with the family of Quincy Smith, a radio personality from KMOJ who died on Dec. 9 after police used a Taser on him, ultimately causing heart failure. Garcia said the deaths are being investigated, but Gross said she believes investigations conducted on cases of police brutality often arenâÄôt transparent, which leads to questions about the quality of the investigations. ItâÄôs common for deaths caused by police to be labeled âÄújustified homicidesâÄù before a proper investigation is even performed, Gross said. The rally was important because itâÄôs up to the Minneapolis community to stand up when police do something wrong, otherwise the police will not have to answer for questionable practices, she added. âÄúThe community has to figure out we need and deserve a quality police force thatâÄôs accountable,âÄù Gross said. âÄúIâÄôm not trying to say everything sucks, but I am trying to say we need good. We demand good.âÄù Both Gulad and Smith were black, and Gross said those from minority groups are common victims of police brutality, which she said is largely confined to people of color, poor people and homeless people. âÄúPeople who have less power in society,âÄù Gross said, âÄúpolice find them easy targets.âÄù Gross said the CUAPB receives five to 12 complaints of police brutality per week. One thing incidents have in common is the majority of the victims have been âÄúfalsely charged.âÄù False charges, according to Gross, happen when police charge a person with a crime, usually disorderly conduct, fourth or fifth degree assault or obstructing legal process, in order to justify the policeâÄôs actions. Gross hopes WednesdayâÄôs rally will be a movement toward change and more regulation of police. The police, meanwhile, have come to question CUAPBâÄôs motives. Garcia said he believes the rally has lost its focus. âÄúThey seem to differ on anything that is law abiding,âÄù he said of CUAPB. WednesdayâÄôs demonstration was a peaceful one, without police presence. At the park, as cars slowly passed and honked to support the cause, GuladâÄôs brother, Assad Ali, 20, said he was out of tears to cry. âÄúThis weather isnâÄôt cold, but the world is,âÄù he said. âÄúYou can deal with the weather, but you canâÄôt deal with this world.âÄù