Word that Police Chief Janeé Harteau had stepped down added an element of celebration to a protest rally and march Friday night in Minneapolis.
Cheers erupted from the multiracial crowd of about 200 attending the rally at Loring Park when they heard the news of Harteau’s resignation, which broke just as the rally began at 6 p.m.
Later, a smaller group marched to City Hall in downtown Minneapolis, where they planned to attend a late news conference by Mayor Betsy Hodges.
Upon their arrival, doors at City Hall were closed, and the marchers blocked off the Government Center light-rail station.
When organizers heard that the doors were opening, groups of marchers rushed inside City Hall. Once inside, they went to Hodges' news conference and chanted for her resignation. Later, they took center stage to demand change and applaud Harteau's resignation.
Hodges was able to speak later, only to reporters and other media members. She said that she will not resign.
Earlier, the procession went along city streets, which included several stops in intersections, causing delays in several Metro Transit bus routes. Among the signs the protesters hoisted were some saying “Stop killer cops” and “Justice for Justine.”
Damond, a 40-year-old Australian, was fatally shot by officer Mohamed Noor July 15 after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault in her south Minneapolis neighborhood. Critics have said that Harteau’s response failed to address what they believe are systemic problems in the city’s police department.
“I’m hoping now Justine’s death will not be in vain,” Catherine Jones, one of the organizers of Friday’s march, told the crowd.
It was the second large public gathering focused on the police shooting in two days. On Thursday night, hundreds of people spilled into Damond’s neighborhood for a rally and march. Valerie Castile, whose son, Philando Castile, was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer last year, spoke at that event.
John Thompson, an activist and friend of Castile, spoke again at Friday’s rally, imploring white allies to continue fighting for justice alongside black Minnesotans.
Several local justice groups including Black Lives Matter Twin Cities, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Minnesota and Native Lives Matter organized Friday’s rally, along with Minneapolis mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds.