Australian native Justine Ruszczyk Damond, 40, was shot and killed at 11:30 p.m. Saturday, July 15, while speaking to police officers who responded when she called 911 after witnessing an assault in the alley behind her Minneapolis home. Officer Mohamed Noor allegedly fired his weapon from the passenger seat of the squad car, shooting through the driver’s side open window, striking Damond. Justine was an experienced yoga instructor, personal health and life coach and meditation teacher who led classes at Lake Harriet Spiritual Community. She was engaged to be married this month to Don Damond. The shooting sparked an international outcry for answers and renewed anger over senseless shootings by American police.
Love and Peace
Justine was a loved and respected member of the Lake Harriet Spiritual Community in Minneapolis. She was a gifted speaker, meditation leader, teacher and transformation coach. Her message is of love and peace and non-violence. She inspired us by the example of how she chose to live her life. Justine was dedicated to helping others make transformations in their lives, through teaching and coaching. She was an amazing leader for bridging the gap between science and spirituality in a way that was easy to understand and fun. She had a great joy for spiritual growth that inspired those around her. Much of her work is based on the work of Dr. Joe Dispenza, a national cutting edge leader of science and spirituality. Originally a veterinary surgeon, she had a deep love for animals and volunteered at Second Hand Hounds. While this is a tragic event, Justine would want us to use this opportunity to develop greater love and compassion for each other, and look to find solutions by thinking differently. We ask that you respect the Damond and Ruszczyk families while we all grieve and try to make sense of this tragic event. We choose to remember her as the love and light that she is. — Lake Harriet Spiritual Community
Changing the World
Who hasn’t seen this glorious picture of a beautiful young woman exuding confidence, joy, and a message about changing the world hidden in her eyes. Well, she’s changed the world all right — just not in the way the rest of us wanted it to happen. On the night of July 15, Justine Ruszczyk Damond was shot and killed by a policeman. She had called the police to see about an altercation in the alley behind her home. Instead of helping, she was killed. Justine was set to be married in three weeks. In fact, she took his name early in anticipation of the event. Don Damond has been a friend of ours for 20+ years. When Justine came into the picture a few years ago, it was as though she had always been at his side. They were together — at last. She gave up her life in Australia for love — it was something she would do. Getting to know Justine wasn’t hard. After the first five seconds, she was your friend. From then on, she’d refer to you as “lovey,” “dearest darling,” “precious one.” She was, well, pure love. Yet grounded in her wisdom. Ridiculously funny. Yet serious in her concerns for everyone, for animals, for the planet. Justine and I had a cat connection. I would take care of their cat (Miss Kitty) when they were traveling. In turn, she offered energetic insights about our cat Bodhi as she was about to make her transition to “kitty heaven” — insights that have stayed with me two years later. The question on all our minds is why would someone destroy such a light being? Couldn’t he see that light? Couldn’t he see her vulnerability as she stood in her pajamas? Her need to reach out and help? We are all asking that question as we hold and support her was-to-be husband Don. Let us hope we can get to a place of forgiveness and have an open heart. It’s what Justine would have wanted. — Carole Hyder, Minneapolis