Protests Erupt for 20-Year-Old Black Man Killed By Minneapolis Cop
This comes as another police officer, Derek Chauvin is being tried for killing George Floyd a year ago.
Several protests have sparked in Minneapolis since Sunday, 11 April, over the killing of a 20-year-old black man, Daunte Wright. The police have called the matter an accidental discharge by one of their officials.
The incident comes just as the city sees the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, for the killing of George Floyd, a year ago. Minneapolis has spent $1 million by deploying additional law enforcement and erecting barricades and barbed wire fences, reported DailyMail.
As per The Washington Post database that tracks such shootings, Wright is one of at least 262 people killed by the police in 2021.
On Sunday, 11 April, afternoon 20-year-old Daunte Wright was pulled over by Brooklyn Center Police for a traffic violation. Wright was asked to step out and officers tried to handcuff him. Wright resisted and tried to get back into his car. As per BBC, officers were heard yeling, “Taser! Taser!”, when Wright got back into his vehicle.
However, the police had shot him with a bullet, instead of using a taser. Wright was severely wounded and drove a certain distance before crashing the vehicle.
WHO WAS DAUNTE WRIGHT?
Aubrey Wright told The Washington Post that his son had asked his mother for $50 for a carwash, and was headed there when he was shot. The car was only recently bought for Daunte by his parents.
His father said that Daunte, who has a 2-year-old son, dropped out of high school two years ago because of a learning disability. Since then, he has worked in retail and fast-food restaurants to support his two-year-old son. Daunte had also planned to go back to school to get his GED.
His father was quoted as saying, “He was a great kid and was never in serious trouble. He enjoyed spending time with his son. He loved his son.”
WHAT DID THE POLICE SAY?
The police chief, Tim Gannon on Monday, 12 April attributed the tragic incident as an “accidental discharge”. The officer identified as the shooter, Kim Potter has worked for the police for 26 years, and accidentally used a gun instead of a taser. She has been placed on administrative leave.
A body camera footage accessed by local media corroborates Potter’s claim of wanting to use a taser. She is seen pointing her gun at Wright, after which she is heard exclaiming, “I just shot him,” quoted local media reports.
WHAT DID WRIGHT’S FAMILY SAY?
Wright’s mother, Katie was called by her son during the traffic stop, who told her he was pulled over for “air fresheners hanging from his rear-view mirror”, according to BBC. Katie then reportedly heard a scuffle, after which the call got cut. She then spoke to Wright’s partner, who was a passenger in the car, who notified her of the murder.
"He was my life, he was my son and I can never get that back. Because of a mistake? Because of an accident?” said Katie, as quoted by BBC.
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT THE PROTESTS?
Hundreds gathered outside the police headquarters in Brooklyn Center on Sunday evening when they were met with hostility from law enforcement officials.
Authorities had enforced an overnight curfew on Sunday, after which the next day, the mayors of Minneapolis and St Paul declared a local state of emergency, as well as an overnight curfew on Monday, as per The New York Times.
Twenty local businesses have been broken into as a consequence of the protests, citing which police have justified the use of excessive force against protesters, including tear gas and flash bangs as per the report. The police also seemingly deployed gas canisters and stun grenades at the protest site.
Members of the Minnesota National Guard were brought over from the Chauvin trial to monitor the Brooklyn Center.
As the situation eased, visuals emerged of protesters holding candles with placards of messages in solidarity to Daunte Wright. However, as per the report, soon after, the protesters were dealt with teargas by police authorities.
Minnesota State Patrol has arrested 40 people in Brooklyn Center on a variety of charges, including violating curfew and rioting, added the report.
HOW ARE POLITICIANS IN THE US REACTING TO THIS?
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott called for justice in the name of Daunte Wright, but added that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time with the whole world watching.
Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz tweeted that he is closely monitoring the situation in Brooklyn Centre, and acknowledged how the state is mourning the loss of life of another Black man at the hands of law enforcement.
Activists told the Washington Post that given what happened in the Wright case, it would be hard to maintain peace inspite of security if Derek Chauvin is acquitted or convicted on lesser charges. Chauvin is undergoing trial in the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man in 2020.
THE HEARING OF CHAUVIN IN THE GEORGE FLOYD CASE
The tension in Minneapolis has been exacerbated as the city hosts the trial for Derek Chauvin in the death probe of 46-year-old George Floyd.
The Minneapolis police official’s brutal attack on Floyd was filmed, where he was seen forcing his knee against Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes in May, 2020, leading to global outrage, ‘Black Lives Matter’ protests and renewed outrage against institutionalised racism and police brutality.
Floyd was killed in the arrest where he was accused by four officers of counterfeiting a $20 bill. All four officers have been dismissed from their posts. The city has agreed to a $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family.
The trial, which is now in its third week, has law enforcement preparing for unrest till the jury reaches a verdict, as per local media reports.
Chauvin faces charges of manslaughter and second degree murder, and is the first officer to be put on trial among the other three whom are accused of aiding and abetting murder, namely, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng.
WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT?
As per The Washington Post, Chauvin’s attorneys have refuted the prosecutor’s theory that his kneeling resulted in Floyd’s death, and attributed the cause to drugs and pre-existing health conditions. They further reiterated that Chauvin followed protocol in terms of using force as per his police training.
Prosecution however, called Chauvin’s action a “betrayal of law enforcement”, and called upon bystanders to testify, as well as medical experts to substantiate their claims on how Floyd was murdered.
Several Minneapolis police leaders took to the stand to denounce Chauvin’s action.
The trial is not over yet, with closing arguments remaining to be presented as well as Chauvin’s witnesses, before the jury deliberates. The atmosphere in the city is deeply shrouded over the result of the ongoing trial.
(With inputs from The Washington Post, BBC, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times)
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