Minnesota leaders of color respond to Daunte Wright shooting
Brooklyn Center, Minn. (Apr. 12, 2021) — Elected officials, rights groups and community organization leaders released statements regarding the fatal police shooting Sunday of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.
Parts of the Twin Cities Metropolitan area are under curfew as protests continue at was is being questioned as Daunte was shot and killed by officers following a traffic stop.
The ACLU of Minnesota issued a statement declaring “grief and outrage” in the community over the shooting death of another Black man by police. The organization joined the national ACLU in calling on Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott, Chief of Police Tim Gannon, and City Manager Curt Boganey to “immediately and unequivocally end traffic enforcement by armed police officers; and to halt the practice of allowing their officers to make custodial arrests and use force for misdemeanor offenses, and instead to issue citations and summons.”
“We want to make it clear that Daunte Wright should be alive today, and just like George Floyd and Philando Castile, Wright is one of the countless Black men who would still be with their families and communities had police simply issued a citation,” said Ben Feist, chief programs officer for ACLU of Minnesota.
Police making traffic stops and performing custodial arrests for low-level infractions, which disproportionately target people of color, are dangerous, racist and unnecessary practices that don’t aid public safety, but instead result in predictable violence and death for Black men like Daunte Wright, and require change on the local, state and national level, he said.
The city must keep this policy in place until there’s a complete and transparent investigation of Wright’s death that results in recommendations focused on justice and accountability for his family and community, and on systemic fixes that will reduce the risk of additional unnecessary violence, death and tragedy for other families of color in Brooklyn Center, he said.
Feist also called for the investigation to be done by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, or any county attorney’s office; the quick release of all body-cam footage; and the naming of all officers and agencies involved.
“While the police chief said he believes the officer mistakenly reached for her gun rather than a taser, regardless of weapon, it was an unnecessary use of deadly force that killed Wright over a low-level offense,” Feist said. “We urge police to respond calmly to protests, and to avoid the use of chemical irritants and projectiles. Protests against police violence should not be met with police violence.”
Minnesota State Rep. Samantha Vang, DFL-40B (Brooklyn Center), said she appreciated that body camera footage was released quickly. No matter what is learned as the situation develops, it is clear that the community is facing a traumatic experience that will cause a lot of pain, she said.
“We must stand together as a community, and focus our energy on maintaining peace while seeking justice,” Vang said. “I am monitoring the situation closely and will work to ensure that the ongoing process is transparent and forthcoming. My heart goes out to the victim and their family, this is a shocking tragedy that no family should have to experience.”
In addition to representing Brooklyn Center, Rep. Vang is the Chair of the People of Color and Indigenous Caucus.
A United Black Legislative Caucus statement called the shooting “ unacceptable and that the constant cycle of police officers killing Black Minnesotans must end.”
“We need accountability and we need it now,” the statement continued. “The Minnesota House is advancing much-needed solutions to identify bad officers and keep them off the streets, strengthen community oversight, and ban white supremacists from serving as officers.”
The United Black Legislative Caucus is demanding Republicans in the Legislature, the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, and the Minnesota Sheriffs Association get on board and support legislation to help build trust, create transparency, and hold officers accountable.
The Minnesota Council of Churches said “mourning and weeping are heard once again from Minnesota.”
In a joint statement, Presiding Elder Stacey Smith, president; the Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, CEO), and Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, director of racial justice, said that with the killing of 20 year old Daunte Wright by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, “another child is no more. Another baby is destined to grow up without a father. Another mother cannot be comforted. Another Black body unnecessarily killed by a law enforcement officer.”
In moments like this our resolve is tested, the statement continued. In our neighborhoods and in our cities we have not yet processed our grief from last May when George Floyd was killed in the public square, and today the wound in our Black communities is made raw once again.
The council of churches is asking the faith community to respond through prayers, presence in standing with African American church leaders and members in this moment, and that presence turn into prophesy, in refusing to be comforted by hearing the killing rationalized.
“Speak truth to power. Call for police accountability. Call for Minnesota legislators to take action on proposed police reform bills. Call for a system-wide transformation of policing in Minnesota.”
A statement from the Minnesota chapter of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety’s grassroots networks, said research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives.
A 2016 study of 91 large police departments found that the adoption of use-of-force reform policies — exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on police shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting — was associated with fewer people killed by police.
Black residents make up less than 20% of the population in both Minneapolis and in St. Paul, but are disproportionately impacted by police use of force. Between 2008 and 2020, Black people were the subject of 63% of officer-involved shootings and 62% of police use of force incidents in Minneapolis. And in St. Paul, Black people were the subjects of over half of the use of force incidents between 2016 and 2019. In an average year, police shoot and kill 11 people in Minnesota.
Black people in the United States are nearly three times more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns.Additionally, 99% of fatal shootings by the police from 2013-2019 did not result in officers being charged with a crime.
CAIR-Minnesota Executive Director Jaylani Hussein said said he demanded the immediate termination and prosecution of the Brooklyn Center officer responsible for shooting Daunte Wright. Delaying her termination adds insult to injury and risks further unrest in the community.
During a Monday press conference, he said city officials played body camera footage that showed officers struggling to arrest Wright as he attempted to climb back into a car. A female officer shouts warnings that she is about to taser Wright but she instead fires her gun. Wright drove away, but later crashed and died of his gunshot wound.
The responsible officer has been placed on administrative leave, but both the city manager and police chief insisted during today’s press conference that she could not be fired until due process takes place.
“We demand the immediate termination and prosecution of the Brooklyn Center officer responsible for shooting Daunte Wright,” Hussein said. “Delaying her termination adds insult to injury and risks further unrest in the community.”
The city of Brooklyn Center must also stop using violent and dangerous tactics against protesters, Hussein said. Wildly firing rubber bullets and launching flash bang-grenades into massive crowds can permanently maim innocent people. Engaging in police brutality at protests against police brutality is unacceptable., he said.
“We demand the termination of the chief of police and the city manager,” said CAIR-Minnesota Deputy Director Mohamed Ibrahim. “The excessive force used against children last night is inexcusable. We need the chief of police to be terminated for turning off the lights at the police station and ordering tear gas and other projectiles thrown at the nearby residential buildings and especially at children. We need to do better and we deserve better leadership.”
The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations condemned the decision to impose curfews on the first night of Ramadan without consulting Muslim community leaders, and called on city officials to add an exception for religious purposes.
Jaylani Hussein, executive director of CAIR-Minnesota. “Public officials must amend the curfew in order to respect freedom of religion, including the right to gather and worship during Ramadan.”