This article was written by Niema Broadnax
On the night of July 17, 2017 a 911 call ended in tragedy and created a surreal aftermath of distrust. That night, Justine Ruszczyk of South Minneapolis, reported what she thought was a women in distress and in her attempt to meet the police officers she was shot and killed by Minneapolis Police Officer Noor. This sent shock waves through me as an advocate. The behavior of the Minneapolis Police Officers and their response to a domestic call was inconceivable and exposed tremendous issues when it comes to reporting and responding to violence against women.
According to nytimes.com this incident was not communicated to officers as a domestic dispute or a rape but dispatchers categorized the call as “unknown trouble: female screaming”—a relatively low priority. How can a “female screaming” be considered low priority? This sends a disturbing message that it is okay to take the screams of a woman lightly and that crimes against women are not as serious as other violent crimes.
This imbalance in our system also undermines everyone’s safety and can create a paralysis for people when reporting domestic violence in progress. Typically only half of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police, with African American women being more likely than others to report their victimization to the police.
Remember when reporting domestic violence — you can always report anonymously and if you’re not sure of someone’s wellbeing, you can always request for someone to receive a ‘wellness check.’ You can also call the Day-One Crisis Hotline 1-866-223-1111 for resources and 24-hour crisis services.
According to an Immediate News Release on September 17 by the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women (MCBW) Minnesota is on our 14th known domestic homicide victim of 2019. Let’s keep these families in our thoughts throughout Domestic Violence Awareness Month.