The shooting death of Andrew “Tekle” Sundberg by Minneapolis police has sparked outrage, protest and controversy. The killing is drawing more attention to the Minneapolis Police Department, already under heavy scrutiny due to several high-profile killings of Black men. At the same time, the protests around Sundberg’s death are dividing communities locally and online. Here are six things to know about the situation.
Sundberg was killed after a six-hour standoff with police
Police were called to an apartment complex in Minneapolis by Arabella Foss-Yarbrough, a mother of two young sons, who reported to 911 that Sundberg had fired shots through her apartment door, grazing her. Foss-Yarbrough said on the call that Sundberg had been stalking her, and she later indicated that she didn’t report him earlier because she did not want to potentially put his life in danger with the police. Officers arrived and evacuated Foss-Yarbrough and her children before engaging in a six-hour standoff with Sundberg. The confrontation ended with two police snipers shooting Sundberg, who was soon pronounced dead at a local hospital.
Sundberg's death has led to protests in Minneapolis
Sundberg’s killing sparked protests in Minnesota and outrage on social media. Demonstrators in the city have continued to call for more information about the circumstances that led police to shoot Sundberg. Members of Sundberg’s family complained that police did not allow them to help intervene during the standoff.
EXCLUSIVE: Family of man killed by Minneapolis police says officers prevented them from intervening in fatal stand-off.
— Georgia Fort (@ByGeorgiaFort) July 16, 2022
This is Tekle Sundberg. Minneapolis Police Department killed this smart, loving & artistic 20-year-old after an hours-long standoff while he was experiencing a mental health crisis. We need ANSWERS from MPD as to why Tekle’s mental health crisis became a death sentence! pic.twitter.com/MuxrzxcHL0
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) July 16, 2022
Sundberg's shooting is the latest of several high-profile police killings of Black men in Minneapolis
The Minneapolis Police Department has been under intense scrutiny after the 2020 murder of George Floyd by then-MPD officer Derek Chauvin, who is currently in prison after being convicted of killing Floyd. Three other officers who were involved in the killing have also been jailed for crimes related to Floyd’s death. Further protests against the MPD rose earlier this year after the police killing of Amir Locke. It has been revealed that the two police officers who shot and killed Sundberg — SWAT team members Aaron Pearson and Zachary Seraphine — were also involved in Locke’s killing.
Police claim that killing Sundberg was necessary to protect themselves and civilians
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey released a statement with Interim Police Chief Amelia Huffman about Sundberg’s killing, saying that “this is not the outcome that anyone wanted” but justified the shooting as necessary. The city also released body camera footage from the standoff, which appears to depict several instances of Sundberg firing shots from within the apartment, sending officers scrambling. Foss-Yarbrough has also confirmed that bullets passed through her apartment wall. The video shows the moments leading up to snipers shooting Sundberg but not the moment of the fatal shots.
Competing narratives divide community over shooting
Sundberg’s family has said that he struggled with mental health issues and was in the midst of a mental health crisis during the standoff and shooting. They argue that police did not have to kill him and criticize the city for not immediately releasing all information related to his killing. Foss-Yarbrough, meanwhile, argues that Sundberg had been menacing her for some time and that he nearly killed her and her children when he fired into her apartment.
She says that this case is different from those of people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, or Amir Locke and that activists shouldn’t place Sundberg in the same conversation as those unjust killings. As Blavity previously reported, in a particularly tense moment, Foss-Yarbrough confronted a group of protestors, telling the crowd that “this is not a George Floyd situation. George Floyd was unarmed. This is not okay.” Sundberg’s father, who was in the crowd, responded to her, telling her that he was sorry for what had happened to her.
A fundraising campaign adds to Sundberg's controversy
The controversy and divisions over Sundberg’s killing have spilled over to fundraising platform GoFundMe. Soon after Sundberg’s death, a campaign was launched on the crowdfunding site in his name to raise money for his funeral as well as support for his family. The page has drawn many supporters, raising $20,000 within a few days.
However, others have criticized GoFundMe for hosting the campaign, comparing it to a fundraising campaign launched for Kenosha, WI shooter Kyle Rittenhouse. That campaign was eventually suspended while Rittenhouse faced criminal charges.
As more facts emerge about the Sundberg shooting, heated opinions are likely to continue to divide Minneapolis and the online community.