Police Brutality Against Black Americans Continues with Deaths of Daunte Wright & Ma’Khia Bryant

Mourners+leave+flowers+in+a+post+from+Bryant%27s+Instagram+page.++

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Mourners leave flowers in a post from Bryant’s Instagram page.

Ten miles away from the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota, white police officer Kimberly Potter pulled over Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, for a traffic violation. During the stop, Potter shot and killed Wright.

How the shooting unfolded remains unclear. According to Tim Gannon, the Chief of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, officers stopped Wright on April 21, 2021 for expired registration tags and discovered that Wright had a warrant out for his arrest. When officers attempted to arrest Wright, a struggle broke out, and Potter pulled out her gun. Afterwards, the New York Times reports that Potter said, “I just shot him.” Subsequently, Potter claimed that she mistook her gun for a Taser, which she intended to use instead.

Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, told the Times that her son said over the phone that he’d been stopped for having air fresheners on his rearview mirror. She overheard an officer telling her son not to escape before someone ended the phone call. After Ms. Wright called back, a passenger in Mr. Wright’s car told her that he had been shot.

The proximity of Wright’s death to the Derek Chauvin trial has brought attention and outrage to the case. Richie Mamam Nbiba ’23 said, “Potter is a police officer; she has held a gun multiple times. There’s an obvious difference in size, shape, weight, color, and visuality between a gun and a Taser. If she pulled out that gun, she wanted to pull it out.”

The Times reports that since the killing, demonstrators in Minneapolis, particularly in Brooklyn Center, have clashed with police. At a vigil held on the night of Wright’s death, his mother begged protesters to be peaceful. However, in subsequent days, tension grew between protesters and police. Demonstrators threw projectiles at police, while police deployed rubber bullets and tear gas. Protests grew so violent that Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliot imposed a curfew from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on several nights. However, the curfew did not deter demonstrators. 

Demonstrators also looted a strip mall across from the Brooklyn Center Police Department. In response to the lootings, Mamam Nbiba said, “I think it definitely will damage the credibility of the protests. The people who aren’t well-informed about the protests will be most impacted because once they hear, ‘Some protestors looted a strip mall,’ they may jump to becoming anti-protest and anti-the Black Lives Matter movement.” As of Wednesday, April 21, protests have calmed down and curfews have been lifted.

The video of Potter’s shooting of Wright reminded many of George Floyd’s murder in the same city less than a year before. Floyd and Wright’s families have worked together to bring awareness to both murders. Floyd’s relatives have spoken out to condemn Potter and plead for justice. Julianna Piconne ’24 said, “I think it’s important for the families to stand together to speak out against the flaws of the police system, as it gives their voices more weight in the public.”

Potter and Chief Gannon have both resigned from the force. Potter was arrested on April 14, 2021, and currently faces a charge of second-degree manslaughter. At Hotchkiss, the Black and Hispanic Student Association (BaHSA), sent out an email (copied below) sharing ways community members can support Wright’s family. 

Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old Black teenager, was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, just minutes before the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial was announced. Her death highlights the prevalence of police brutality and systemic racism in the U.S.

 

Text from BaSHA email on April 15:

It is important to donate directly to the family at this time to support Daunte’s one-year-old son, as well as to support the family in covering funeral and mental healthcare costs. Send donations to: 

Cash App: $hubby98 

Venmo: @thuy-jones

PayPal: @holisticheaux 

Please subject any donations “Daunte Jr.” 

Go Fund Me organized by Daunte’s aunt and managed by his lawyers and parents: 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/dauntewright