In the middle of a street in Brooklyn Center, Minn, as cars on either side whizzed past, Courtney Amborst took her brush and white paint and wrote DAUNTE in capital letters, a tribute to Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man. years killed by a white policeman.
The first time she came to this specific spot, where Wright was killed on April 11 and where makeshift memorials were erected to honor him, she wrote her name in chalk. But the plaster eventually washes off and she wanted something permanent, something that would attract attention.
“I don’t know him. You don’t have to know him to get to your front door at any time,” Amborst said. “It could be my brother; it could be me; it could be my father.”
Mourners gathered to honor Wright Thursday at the funeral held at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis, about a 14-minute drive from the intersection where George Floyd was killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin last May. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of involuntary second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
For Amborst, and many members of the black community in and around Minneapolis, the shadow cast by Wright’s funeral is a sobering reminder that Chauvin’s guilty verdicts were a temporary respite from the injustice they say they suffer at the hands of the police. of the city.
Wright’s death during a traffic stop sparked protests outside the city police station, with some protesters throwing objects at officers who sometimes responded with gas and rubber bullets before clearing the scene with a riot line.
Police said they stopped Wright because his vehicle registration had expired and found he had a warrant pending. Footage of a police-worn camera released after the shooting showed Wright slipping out of an officer’s grasp as he tried to handcuff him and get back into the car. Then another officer is heard saying: “I’ll talk to you. Taser! Taser! Taser!” before shooting Wright.
The officer, Kim Potter, who said he intended to shoot his Taser, not his pistol, resigned from the force and was charged with second degree manslaughter in connection with Wright’s death.
“Everyone could breathe for a second”
Amborst said Chauvin’s guilty verdicts mean there is more work to be done, especially as the city prepares to bury another black man killed by police.
“We spent all summer, all 11 months fighting for a guilty verdict. And yesterday, when we felt guilty, guilty, guilty, it was like a sigh of relief,” he said. “It was as if everyone could only breathe for a second.
“But I woke up this morning, I have more work to do. We have to keep the pressure on. Are you happy on both sides, you say, how many times is that going to happen?
Similar sentiments were expressed by mourners who lined up Wednesday inside Shiloh Temple’s international ministries for Wright’s public viewing.
With organ music playing in the background, friends and family stood in front of his open coffin, covered in red roses, crying and comforting each other, some pausing to touch Wright.
On an adjacent dais was the pastor of the church, Bishop Richard D. Howell; the Wright family attorney, Benjamin Crump, who also represented the Floyd family; and Reverend Al Sharpton, who will deliver the eulogy, as he did for Floyd’s service.
“This is a funeral we shouldn’t have,” Sharpton said outside the church. And as happy as I am to see what happened with the verdict, I can’t celebrate. “
Bad memories of past interactions with the police
Tony Clark stopped and cried as he stood in front of the open casket.
“I was emotional because I kept blinking. “What if it was me in the car with my two children and they shot me. And I’m gone. I can’t teach my son how to be a man. “
Clark said the guilty verdicts for Chauvin do not erase the reality faced by men of color when it comes to law enforcement.
“A black man – when a cop catches us at a traffic light, it’s a dead light.”
He said he sometimes ran away from the police rather than stop because he knows that if found out, the encounter could be fatal.
“I’ve been on a high-speed chase because we know what we know – once they catch you, they’ll use every element to try and say, ‘Oh, he had a gun or my life was threatened.’ “
Ashley Henderson, 30, a community worker who did not know Wright but came to his visit, said she also had negative interactions with the police. In some, he feared for his life.
“And, of course, that leaves the stain or wrinkle, if you like, in your memory.”
Henderson echoed Amborst who said Chauvin’s guilty verdicts are a signal that more work needs to be done.
Feared Children ‘Will Be Next’
Loretha King also came to pay tribute to Wright, whose death, she said, makes her more indignant and frustrated at the way the justice system and the police have handled “our young black men.”
As a mother, King said she is constantly afraid that her children “will be next”.
King, 49, said she is a single mother, raising three sons and a daughter. She recalled the times she would work and her children would call her and tell her that the police had stopped them.
“As I quit my job, my heart is beating like crazy because I don’t know what’s next,” said King, who works as a programmer at the University of Minnesota Medical Group Practice.
Like others, King said the guilty verdicts after Chauvin’s trial provided some comfort, some comfort, but “it’s just the beginning.”
“I don’t think it will end until the laws are actually changed, that our young black men will continue to be racially profiled.“