Brooklyn Center mayor takes control of police department after bodycam reveals shooting of Daunte Wright

Community members expressed anger with city officials after the killing, as well as with the police reponse to protests that followed

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Tuesday 13 April 2021 00:50
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Daunte Wright: Protests after police shooting of 20-year-old black man
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A metal statue of a giant raised fist, which once adorned George Floyd Square, the intersection where police killed Mr Floyd last May in Minneapolis, now sits in the suburb of Brooklyn Center, where police killed another Black man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, over the weekend during a traffic stop.

The two deaths have the same striking symbol, and many of the same circumstances: a Black man, in police custody over a minor accusation, met with deadly force in the Minneapolis area. Mr Wright’s family has also hired Benjamin Crump, the same civil rights attorney who represents the Floyds. What remains to be seen is whether these two moments will produce the same kind of response.

On Monday, Brooklyn Center police released body camera footage of an officer shooting Mr Wright, in what police chief Tim Gannon described as an accident.

“I felt the community needed to know what happened,” he said at a press conference on Monday. “They needed to see it.”

According to chief Gannon, the officer involved, who is now on leave, meant to reach for her Taser stun gun, not her service weapon.

In the graphic body camera footage, she can be heard yelling, “I’ll Tase you. Taser! Taser! Taser!” while holding what appears to be a pistol. She then shoots Mr Wright amid a struggle with officers.

The killing inspired condemnation from local activists and national figures alike, who argued that both the multiple recent police killings of Black men, and the heavy officer and riot control presence at the protests that followed on Sunday night, demonstrated a deeply lopsided power dynamic between the law and communities of colour.

If it’s any other profession she would’ve been walked off the job at that moment,” local activist Jaylani Hussein, of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said on Monday after the release of the footage.  “This police officer is protected not only by her own police chief, but the system. And not only that, but an entire military that is outside right now in the state is protecting a killer police officer.”

Community members called for the firing of the officer involved, whose name has not been released, as well as the firing of the Brooklyn Center police chief and city manager, who oversaw the response to protests on Sunday night.

Minnesota governor Tim Walz condemned Mr Wright’s killing, and said that it was like George Floyd’s death had “repeated itself.”

“We can either come together to fix this or we can suffer together as fools,” he said during remarks. “In the midst of this trial that the world is watching, the situation repeated itself yesterday.”

Governor Walz said he was going to “demand” the state legislature convene a round of hearings on police reforms that would add onto those passed last year after Mr Floyd’s death, because leaders in the state needed to “stop pretending that this is just the natural order of the universe and things happen this way.”

In the meantime, leaders at the local and state level have instituted curfews and a state of emergency across many parts of Minnesota, including Minneapolis and St Paul.

It wasn’t even a year ago that tens of thousands of protesters took to the street to register their grief and outrage in the Twin Cities after Mr Floyd’s death, demonstrations that were largely peaceful but saw looting as well.

Local and national leaders urged the community to express its feelings without resorting to violence.

“Peaceful protest is understandable,” President Joe Biden said on Monday. “And the fact is that we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in Black community in that environment is real, serious, and consequential. But that does not justify violence.”

“We should listen to Daunte’s mom who is calling for peace and calm,” he added.

Brooklyn Center mayor Mike Elliott has taken control of the Brooklyn Center police department on Monday afternoon, after being given direct “command authority” of the police following a city council vote.

“At such a tough time, this will streamline things and establish a chain of command and leadership,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

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Candlelight vigils for Mr Wright had planned in multiple locations across the city, and were rescheduled to comply with curfews.

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