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How To Keep Demanding Justice For Daunte Wright

Three ways to make your voice heard.

by JR Thorpe and Bustle Editors
Originally Published: 
Two demonstrators embrace after 20 year old Daunte Wright was shot and killed during a traffic stop....
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images News/Getty Images

During an April 2021 traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by police, per AP News. The police pulled Wright, who is Black, and his girlfriend over around 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 11, allegedly for expired tags and because he had an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror, per Wright’s family. The police shot Wright after determining that he had an outstanding warrant, per CNN, when Wright attempted to drive away.

Former officer Kimberly Potter, who is white, fired the fatal shot, testifying in court that she mistook her handgun for her Taser. The 49-year-old resigned from the police department in the days following Wright’s death, and was tried for first and second degree manslaughter. After 27 hours of deliberation, the jury in Potter’s trial found her guilty on two counts of manslaughter on Dec. 23, according to The New York Times. She will be sentenced in the weeks to come; per the Times, first-degree manslaughter carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison, and prosecutors have suggested they will ask for a longer-than-average sentence.

“Yet another Black life was taken by those sworn to protect, and we join the community in mourning Wright’s loss,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota (ACLU-MN) said in a statement at the time of Wright’s killing, calling for a swift and transparent investigation of the killing, including the release of all police body camera footage.

Protests for justice after Daunte Wright’s killing mounted in Brooklyn Center in the weeks following his death, with Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, appealing for calm. At the time, USA Today reported that protests over Wright’s death were met with police in riot gear, who fired gas and a chemical agent into crowds. At the time of Wright’s killing, the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with the 2020 murder of George Floyd, was underway in nearby Minneapolis. (Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd on April 20, 2021, just a few days later.)

It is still rare that a police officer is convicted for any kind of on-the-job misconduct, per a 2020 analysis of existing data by FiveThirtyEight. The verdict in Potter’s trial comes weeks after a series of other high-profile cases stemming from the events that sparked 2020’s widespread protests for racial justice concluded. On Nov. 19, a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and shot three protestors in the summer of 2020; five days later, on Nov. 24, a nearly all-white jury convicted three white men of the Feb. 2020 murder of Ahmaud Arbery.

If the Potter verdict makes you want to keep pushing for justice for Wright and other victims of police violence, continue reading for ways to make your voice heard.

Talk To Your People About Why Focusing On “Looting” Is Harmful

After some businesses in Brooklyn Center were damaged during protests, Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott declared a curfew between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m. the day following Daunte Wright’s killing, per the Washington Post. If your dad keeps turning the focus to “looting” whenever you want to talk about police violence against Black people, it’s worth having some responses ready.

The concept of looting is often brought up as justification for further violence against Black communities: Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, speaking in 1967 about a “tough on crime” approach in that city’s Black neighborhoods, used the phrase “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Former President Donald Trump used the same phrase when Minneapolis residents protested George Floyd’s killing last year, per Slate. To further illustrate how the word is used to paint a negative portrait of Black communities, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, news agencies labeled Black survivors carrying supplies as looters, while white people were captioned as “finding” or “scavenging” goods.

Painting community anger as ”looting” is a distraction from the core of the situation, which is about needless, racially motivated police violence. As Daunte Wright’s mother Katie Wright told protesters, “We need it to be about why my son got shot for no reason.”

Donate To Daunte Wright’s Family’s GoFundMe Or Minnesota Freedom Fund

Daunte Wright left behind a young son in addition to his grieving family. Wright’s aunt Kelly Bryant set up a GoFundMe to pay for Wright’s funeral costs, which has raised over $1 million since his death.

The Minnesota Freedom Fund pays criminal bail for those in the state who can’t afford it. In a statement, its co-founders said, “The killing of Daunte Wright — which happened just 10 miles away from where former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd — is a tragic reminder of the desperate need to reform our state’s racist law enforcement system.” In the year since the organization rose to prominence following Floyd’s murder, its mission has expanded to “support decarceration efforts within the state of Minnesota.” You can donate securely through their website.

Educate Yourself About Defunding The Police

Wright was killed during what should have been a routine traffic stop. The idea that armed police should be conducting these stops has been called into question by police reform advocates, who say that traffic stops mediated by armed officers can cause further harm to those being stopped and others on the road. This is principle is one of the cornerstones of the Defund The Police movement, which aims to reimagine public safety in ways that put communities first.

Daunte Wright’s death reignited conversations about defunding the police that came to the forefront after George Floyd’s murder in 2020. If you’re uncertain about what defunding the police means, or how life would function in a society that diverted funding from law enforcement to other social and economic programs, there are a few ways to educate yourself. Boost your reading list with a bunch of essential books about defunding police forces, and read up on what it might look like in practice.

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