The Murder of Daunte Wright: When Police Kill Black People Again and Again… That Is No “Accident”

Daunte Wright

 

Daunte Wright   

At 2:00 pm on Sunday, April 11, police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center pulled over Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, for a “traffic violation.” Speaking through tears, Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters that Daunte called her when he was pulled over and said he was being stopped for having an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror. She heard noises in the background. She heard police yelling at Daunte and telling him to put down the phone. Then the call ended. When she called Daunte back, the woman who was with him told her Daunte was dead in his car, a few blocks away after being shot by police.

Katie Wright said about Daunte, "He had a 2-year-old son that's not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chests. He was my baby."

The official story of what actually happened is contradictory, obfuscated, changes hour to hour, and cannot be taken as fact. Police have provided different reasons for pulling over Daunte’s car, including an expired registration, which—if true—should have been a ticket at most, not a death sentence.

The day after Daunte Wright’s murder, the Brooklyn Center police chief held a press conference and claimed the killing was an “accident.” He played bodycam footage that shows cops telling Daunte he has a warrant. On the video, one cop approaches Daunte with her gun drawn and pointed at Daunte. She yells, “I'll tase you! I'll tase you! Taser, Taser, Taser!” An instant later, she shoots Daunte with her gun at point blank range. She then appears to yell, “Holy shit, I just shot him.”

The following day, the cop who murdered Daunte resigned from the police force, saying, "I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately." The police chief who insisted Daunte’s death was just an “accident” resigned as well.

An accident? The video clip selected by the police chief shows cops in what was supposedly a traffic violation stop acting like they were in war-fighting mode.

And about that traffic violation: Again, police and the media have reported contradictory and uncredible explanations for why Daunte Wright was stopped—including distortions of his previous engagement with police that would not be relevant even if true. The Minnesota ACLU released a statement expressing “deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual [an excuse that isn’t really why something is done] stop, something police do all too often to target Black people.”

The cop who killed Daunte Wright was described by the police chief as a “very senior” member of the force. Her taser is yellow, her gun is … a gun. Yet, like the cop who killed Oscar Grant in an Oakland, California transit station in 2009, we are told she couldn’t tell her gun from a Taser.

But what if it does turn out to be the case that this trigger-happy cop was so reckless, had so little regard for a young Black man’s life, and had been so programmed to see Daunte Wright as less than human, that after a “pretextual” stop, she shot and killed him when she was “only” intending to terrorize, brutalize and torture him with a Taser? What would that prove except that to this system, the dignity and life of a Black person is worth less than that of a dog?

Daunte Wright was killed in a country where all young Black people have targets on their backs in the eyes of the police, just miles from where the pig who lynched George Floyd is on trial. In Minneapolis Black people are 20% of the population, but 68% of the time Minneapolis police draw a gun on someone, it is a Black person. And when police kill Black people again and again and again and get away with it, that is no “accident.” That is a system that can’t be reformed but must be overthrown.

Protest for Daunte Wright, Philadelphia

 

Protest for Daunte Wright, Philadelphia, July 13, 2021.    Photo: KPaynter

The police murder of Daunte Wright occurred only a few miles from and during the trial of the pig murderer of George Floyd! And what does Biden do? He preaches to the people who are outraged by this endless police brutality and murder that “there is no justification for violence.” Oh, really—“No justification for violence”? Go tell that shit to the police! This is just another threat from Biden for more violence by the murderous forces of “law and order”! 
Yes, it goes on ... and on ... and on. Yet further confirmation—as if further evidence were needed—of the profound truth that we need Revolution—Nothing Less!
Protesters for Daunte Wright storm Brooklyn Center

 

Protesters demanding justice for Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, MN, April 12, 2021.    Photo: AP

Protesters for Daunte Wright are confronted by cops

 

Protesters demanding justice for Daunte Wright are conrfronted by cops in Brooklyn Center, MN, April 12, 2021.    Photo: AP

Outrage in the Streets

As news broke of the police murder of Daunte Wright, people began to pour into the streets of Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis in outrage and anger. Police fired flash-bang grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters. The Minnesota National Guard, already mobilized to respond to protests if the Minneapolis cop who murdered George Floyd is not convicted, deployed more troops. A curfew was set. Authorities put out claims about Daunte’s past that are completely irrelevant to why he was murdered. The media focused on property damage.

But the message that police murder of Black people MUST STOP still came through.

Immediately after the killing of Daunte Wright on Sunday, protesters shouted "Don't shoot" while kneeling and raising their arms in front of a line of police officers at the Brooklyn Center police station. Messages in chalk and signs included “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for Daunte Wright.”

Monday night, hundreds of protesters defied the curfew imposed by the city and gathered outside the Brooklyn Center police station chanting “Daunte Wright!” “This is the wrong time for another Black man to get killed by the police," said Dez Odoms, 30, whose apartment is near the police station. Tear gas was fired at his apartment by police. A massive statue of a fist created after the police murder of George Floyd was placed at the spot where Daunte Wright was killed.

The National Basketball Association issued a statement on Monday that “in light of the tragic events in the Minneapolis area yesterday, tonight’s game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center has been postponed.” Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League also cancelled games in Minneapolis that night.

There have been protests in other cities across the country. Monday night in New York City, protesters took over the Manhattan Bridge. Other protesters in NYC marched through Washington Heights, north of Harlem, heading for the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.

As we post this, there are news reports that people are gathering in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis for a third night of protest. Check in at revcom.us for continuing coverage of this developing situation.

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