By Serran Soledad
On Sunday, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the department and president of the local police union. Wright was murdered during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb, sparking five consecutive nights of combative protests outside the police headquarters as well as solidarity protests across the country.
Just hours after Wright was killed, close to 300 people gathered in protest outside the police headquarters, prompting Governor Tim Waltz to order in the Minnesota National Guard, who had already been deployed for the trial of Derek Chauvin, which was being held less than 10 miles from where Wright was killed. Over 3,000 Minnesota National Guard members are currently activated in the Twin Cities area.
At nightfall, protesters marched on the headquarters, lobbing bottles, bricks, and fireworks at the building. The police and national guard pelted protesters with rubber bullets and deployed tear gas as protesters protected themselves with umbrellas. Just a few miles away at a Brooklyn Park police station, gunshots were fired at the building’s glass doors. This would be the first of several nights where protesters and law enforcement would stand off.
On Monday, Wright’s parents and family members held a press conference condemning the murder and rejecting the Brooklyn Center police’s narrative that the shooting was a justifiable mistake. Officer Potter and Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon have stood by claims that the shooting was accidental, with Potter allegedly believing it was a taser in her hand when she pulled the trigger and fatally shot Wright.
Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, spoke to the ruling-class press about her final words with her son, who over the phone told her he was being pulled over for having an air freshener in his rear view mirror. She recalled hearing the police telling him to hang up the phone, followed by sounds of tussling. The call was disconnected, and when she called back a few minutes later, Wright’s girlfriend answered saying that Daunte had been shot, aiming the camera to show him lying dead in the driver’s seat.
In preparation for more unrest, Governor Waltz ordered a 7 p.m. curfew across four Minnesota counties. The national guard set up barricades and fencing around the Brooklyn Center Police Headquarters as hundreds gathered for a second night of combative protests.
Video footage showed fireworks being shot off and protesters attempting to pull down the barricade. Nearby buildings and businesses had their windows broken and spray-painted with anti-police slogans. At least 20 businesses have been expropriated by the people in the area, and reports indicate that basic necessities like food and clothing have been at the top of the list of items rightly claimed by the people.
Calling for “peace and calm” in the wake of Wright’s death, Joe Biden took the opportunity to make a public statement Monday, condemning protesters and expressing his concern for private property over justice for Black lives.
“There is absolutely no justification—none—for looting, no justification for violence. Peaceful protests, understandable, and the fact is that, you know, we do know that the anger, pain and trauma that exists in the Black community in that environment is real, it’s serious, and it’s consequential. But it will not justify violence and/or looting,” said Biden after claiming an investigation was needed to determine whether Wright’s death was indeed an accident or intentional.
On Tuesday, as protesters clashed with police for a third day, both Officer Kim Potter as well as Brooklyn Center police chief Tim Gannon resigned from the police force. Cement barricades and fencing were set up around Potter’s home out of fear she would be targeted in the wake of intensifying protests. By the end of the night, close to 80 protesters had been arrested. Reports indicate that the former officer has already relocated with her family out of Minnesota.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that Potter had been charged with second-degree manslaughter, facing a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. She was arrested and released the same day after posting a $100,000 bail.
Standoffs between protesters and police continued Wednesday night, with SWAT atop the police headquarters, using flash bangs and shooting pepper bullet rounds directly at protesters from above. Some protesters were pushed against the fencing and pepper sprayed by police before calls for dispersal were made, with law enforcement making arrests for unlawful assembly.
In a press conference on Thursday, Daunte’s mother Katie Wright said that because they will never see Daunte again there can be no real justice given by the state: “I do want accountability, 100% accountability.” Her grief, and the people’s outrage at another police murder, emphasizes the need to fight for people’s justice, which can only be conquered by the people themselves, not administered by the Old State.
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