Daunte Wright Is The Latest Victim Of Police Brutality. Will It Ever End?

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When I woke up the morning of Monday, April 13, and hopped on Instagram to do my daily morning scroll, I didn’t expect the first post I saw to be about another Black shooting by cops. And I’m sad to say, when I did see it, I wasn’t surprised. Daunte Wright’s name perforated the otherwise tame, inconsequential morning news on all my social media platforms. The name had changed, but the story was the same — an unarmed Black man murdered by an officer. A “routine” practice gone wrong.

I remember after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, the hot outrage I felt was tangible. That outrage is still there, but it’s not as sharp — a year of seeing murder after senseless murder seems to have desensitized me to those fiery pangs of initial shock. Instead, outrage has nestled itself somewhere deep in my bones, ever-present, waiting to be called forward. And on Monday, it was called forward.


The Loss of Daunte Wright

It started with a traffic stop.

In a press conference, former police-chief Tim Gannon  (who resigned on Tuesday) explained that “there was an expired registration on the vehicle” on Wright’s car. Police also saw that there was an object dangling from the rearview mirror — an air freshener, his mother explained, which is illegal in Minnesota — prompting them to ask for Wright’s ID.

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After retreating back to the police cars to look into Wright’s records, they found that there was  “a gross misdemeanor warrant” for Wright’s arrest, said Gannon. At the time of the press conference, Gannon admitted that he had little knowledge of what the warrant was for.

In police body cam footage, Wright is seen being placed in handcuffs. He then hesitates, before quickly jerking his hands free and jumping into the driver’s side of his car. It is then that former-officer Kim Potter (who resigned on Tuesday) yells “taser! Taser! Taser!” Then fires a shot. Potter follows this with “Oh shit. I just shot him.”

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And just like that, Wright’s life came to an end — yet another case of a Black person losing their lives to police violence.

It is no surprise that Gannon defended Potter directly after the shooting. In the press conference, he said “it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. This appears to me from what I viewed in the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.” Never mind the following:

Mid-conference, Gannon then immediately switched to blaming the uproar that comes from these shootings. He says that he understands peaceful protests, but “the ravaging of our businesses, the looting of our stores, the destruction to our pharmacies, we cannot tolerate that.”

Then, perhaps, these shootings should not occur on a regular basis.

Last Year’s Timeline of Police Brutality 

This is yet another example of the world saying “let’s do better” and “sending thoughts and prayers,” then failing the Black population repeatedly.

In a 2021 report by NPR, 135 unarmed Black people have been shot since 2015; unsurprisingly, 75% of the officers involved in these shootings were white. More than a quarter of these deaths happened during traffic stops, similar to Wright’s story.

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One of the most noticeable cases in 2020 was the shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman. Plainclothes officers forced their way into Taylor’s apartment as she slept, and her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, fired a warning shot. In response, three officers fired 32 shots, with six bullets hitting and killing Taylor.

To this day, the officers have not been charged for the murder. However, one of the officers was indicted… for endangering Taylor’s neighbors. Civil unrest was the result of the shooting; more protests came when it was revealed that the officers would not be charged. Taylor’s family received a $12 million settlement, as well as a promise to implement reforms to prevent this from becoming a repeated tragedy.

While Taylor is gone, Taylor’s mother said that “The police reform will definitely be a part of her legacy. … it’ll help to continue to let her name live on now.”

And then, of course, there is the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd, a Black man who was suffocated after an officer kneeled on his neck — all because of a potentially-counterfeit $20 bill. He said “I can’t breathe” (which harkens back to Eric Garner). He called out “Mama.” And after almost nine minutes, he breathed his last, jagged breath.

Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd, is currently on trial for murder. In a defense statement, Chauvin’s lawyer explained away the murder, saying “You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career.” 

However, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell emphasized that this was an abomination: holding up a badge, he stated: “It’s a small badge that carries with it a large responsibility and large accountability to the public. You will learn that on May 25 of 2020, Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge.

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Black Lives Matter Fights Back

The Black Lives Matter movement was founded on Twitter following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2013. The organization found its legs following the 2014 deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, encouraging people to take to the streets and peacefully protest. Co-founder Alicia Garza led one of its first major movements when a grand jury decided not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who shot Michael Brown.

Black Lives Matter has become a source of energy, driving communities to protest these racial killings. In response to the George Floyd killing, Black Lives Matter movements erupted around the world, calling for an end to police brutality against Black people. 

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In response to what some considered the anti-police views of Black Lives Matter, “Blue Lives Matter” was born. Supporting police officers, Blue Lives Matter picked up in popularity. However, it was met with much criticism across the globe. As many have pointed out: you choose to be a police officer. Black people cannot choose their skin color and the dangers that come with it.

The Government’s Views on The Uproar

In a law passed by the House, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, as well as put an end to racial and religious profiling. However, those in Congress may fight back. While Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif, stated that “Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” other Congress members believe that the legislation goes too far, stopping police officers from doing their jobs. President Biden, in a tweet, announced that he supported the legislation.

The hesitance from the right may be due to the anti-Black rhetoric the GOP administration and previous President Donald Trump spewed, empowering what has been deemed the alt-right. Following clashes between those protesting racism and white supremacists in 2017, Trump said “You also had some very fine people on both sides.” He said he condemned neo-Nazis; however, he was not hesitant to state that some on the white-supremacy-side were “very fine people.” And though he had weakly tried to separate himself, the notorious David Duke said that the rally was created “to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

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We cannot forget the boundaries we are breaking — such as having our first Black Vice President — and creating diversity within the government is of importance to President Biden. But police brutality on Black people will not simply go away while we have anti-black Congress members. For example, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene suggested that Black people are “held down” by gangs and dealing drugs.

Steps in the Right Direction

Now, police reform is being pushed to the forefront of the U.S.’s collective consciousness. There is much work to be done, but certain states have implemented laws following the call to end police brutality. Utah’s governor banned chokeholds; the Georgia General Assembly passed a hate-crime law allowing “enhanced criminal penalties to be levied against those who target their victims” based on race, as well as gender and sex; Olympia, WA, now dispatches “crisis responders” rather than police to nonviolent crimes relating to mental health and homelessness. We are slowly making progress — but there can always be more done.

How You Can Start a Conversation

There are many ways to help support the movement. You can even start at home, by discussing police brutality with your family and friends. Find your “why”: why is it important to have this conversation? Do your friends or family engage in racist words/actions? Hone in on one reason to open the discussion. 

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Says Dr. Amanda Taylor, senior adjunct professorial lecturer, School of International Service at American University, to USA Today, “State (your) intention clearly at the beginning of the conversation, so the person engaging with you is clear about the goals as well.”

Once you set a safe space to open up and discuss your beliefs, without confrontation and with an end goal out in the open, you can begin a conversation. While you may not change their stance immediately, you are opening them up to learning and challenging their beliefs. And as more information comes out, keep the conversation going.

Ways to Support Organizations

If you have income to spare, you can also donate — even if just a small amount — to organizations dedicated to fighting racism and advocating for police reform. The NAACP specifically fights for racial justice and equality; Campaign Zero actively fights to end police violence, with many resources on their website; Communities United For Police Reform is a New York-based organization which educates citizens on their rights and police rights.

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Another way you can support the Black community: donating to GoFundMes for those who have been victims of police brutality. Wright’s GoFundMe has raised almost half a million dollars, and there are plenty of other campaigns looking to raise money for other Black victims. Any support goes a long way and makes a difference. Any ad revenue generated from this article will be donated to the GoFundMe for Daunte Wright’s family.

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There’s Still More To Do

The U.S. still has far to go, and we cannot turn a blind eye any longer. Complacency is complicity, and it’s not enough to not be racist — we need to be actively anti-racist and fight for the rights that have been stripped from Black people time and time again.


How are you fighting against police brutality? What changes would you like established? Join the revolution and let us know in the comments.

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