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Killing of 20-Year Old Daunte Wright Further Strains Race Relations in the US

Killing of 20-Year Old Daunte Wright Further Strains Race Relations in the US

Just 10 miles from the Derek Chauvin trial, where the former cop is being charged for the killing of George Floyd, 20-year old Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota.

Killing of 20-Year Old Daunte Wright Further Strains Race Relations in the US
Photo from Katie Wright

On April 11, Wright had been in a car with his girlfriend on the way to his older brother’s house. He was then pulled over by 26-year police force veteran, Kim Potter, for a traffic violation related to expired registration tags. 

It was also discovered that Wright had an outstanding warrant.

Photo from the Wright Family

Police then moved to handcuff Wright, which led to a struggle wherein Wright tried to re-enter his car. Potter, who allegedly mistook her gun for a stun gun, pulled a weapon on Wright and shot a single bullet into his chest.

He attempted to drive away, but died at the scene.

Police Chief Tim Gannon believed the incident to be an accident. “It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet,” he said.

Photo from AP

Wright’s death subsequently caused an eruption of protests in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, which eerily mirrored the scenes of last year’s protests against George Floyd’s graphic death.

Protestors, again, took to the streets to demand justice for Wright and for the arrest and conviction of Potter.

Protestors in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis
Photo from NY Times

In an interview with “Good Morning America”, Wright’s mother, who was on the phone with Wright during the encounter, tearfully recounted the incident and recalled her son sounding extremely afraid. “He’s scared of the police. I heard the fear in his voice.”

Wright’s father, Aubrey Wright, has stated that he would not accept the excuse of Wright’s death as an “accident.”

“A mistake, that doesn’t even sound right,” he said. “This officer has been on the force for 26 years. I can’t accept that.”

A George Floyd protest in New York, 2020
Photo from DW

The event, which was far too close for home almost a year after George Floyd’s death in May of 2020, sparked racial tensions in the country once more. After a year of protesting, with brands and celebrities showing solidarity by posting “Black Lives Matter” on social media feeds, and donations being made to black-run organizations and businesses, many have asked what exactly has changed in modern America.

Though awareness has been raised, with streets renamed and remnants of racist pasts removed, what has actually changed in the attitude of law enforcement towards black Americans?

The question rang through many protestors’ minds as they held up signs demanding justice for yet another black member of the community.

Philonise Floyd, left, with Daunte Wright’s girlfriend, Chyna Whitaker, center, and Ben Crump, the Floyd and Wright family lawyer
Photo from The Guardian

Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, echoed the same sentiments.

“The world is traumatized, watching another African American man being slain,” he said after leaving the courthouse for Chauvin’s 12th day of trial. “Minneapolis, you all can’t sweep this under the rug any more. We’re here and we will fight for justice for this family, just like we’ll fight for justice for our brother.”

The Floyd family with Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother
Photo from CNN

He and other members of Floyd’s family reached out to the Wright family in a show of support. They were seen embracing in a news conference outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.

Potter has since submitted her resignation letter and has been arrested. She is facing charges for second-degree manslaughter.

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