When police in the Brooklyn Center suburb of Minneapolis stopped Daunte Wright on April 11, she told her mother on the phone that she thought it was because she had an air freshener blocking the rearview mirror. Moments later, Officer Kimberly Potter shot Mr. Wright, an unarmed 20-year-old black man to death, mistaking his gun for his Taser.
During his eulogy for Mr. Wright Thursday in Minneapolis, civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton took it as a metaphor.
“We come today as air fresheners for Minnesota. We are trying to eliminate the smell of police brutality from the atmosphere. We are trying to eliminate the smell of racism from the atmosphere. We are trying to eliminate the stench of racial profiles from the atmosphere, “he said.” Your air is too odorous to breathe. We can no longer breathe your stinking air.
“I can’t breathe” became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement after multiple black people killed by police said those words shortly before their deaths, including George Floyd, who told police he couldn’t breathe. 27 times.
Thursday’s memorial service at the Minneapolis Shiloh Temple was a mix of personal and political.
Mr. Wright’s parents Katie and Aubrey remembered their son as an amiable and joyful young man who was thrilled to be a father to his young son, Daunte Jr, born in 2019.
“My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars,” said Katie Wright, adding, “The joy Junior brought into Daunte’s life was truly amazing. He was so happy and so proud, and he always said he didn’t. he was looking forward to making his son proud. “
But the event was more than just a funeral service. Civil rights advocates, including Rev Sharpton, attorney Ben Crump, and others such as United States Representative Ilhan Omar and Amy Klobuchar were in attendance, and many of them have asked Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a federal reform package that has already been approved. the House.
Mr. Wright was killed by police towards the end of the trial against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man, during an arrest last May.
“We fought for all of this. Now in your name, on behalf of Daunte, we will pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as federal law, ”Sharpton said during his remarks. “We’ll make sure it’s against the law across the country to keep taking us to funerals.”
Other leaders have also spoken. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who called for a statewide moment of silence in honor of Mr. Wright, said, “We know this tragedy is connected to the deep and systematic racism in our society that blacks in Minnesota and throughout. the country face every day. “
Mr. Walz lent his backing to a number of state-level police reforms, though many in the community believe he didn’t go far enough and used riot police deployments on protesters in the days following Wright’s death.
The function concluded with a speech by US Senator for Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, who was also criticized for keeping silent about police brutality cases when she was a local prosecutor.
“We cannot confuse responsibility for justice,” he said. “True justice is not done as long as having expired tags means losing your life during a traffic stop.”
Kim Potter, the officer who shot Mr. Wright, resigned after his death and was charged with manslaughter. The Wright family asked local authorities to update the murder charges.