TWO days after a Minneapolis jury found a white police officer guilty of murdering George Floyd, the city will lay to rest Daunte Wright, another Black man whose violent death has raised fresh concerns over the way police treat people of colour.
The funeral for Wright, 20, who was shot by a white police officer in a Minneapolis suburb on April 11 after a routine traffic stop, will be attended by a number of high-profile civil rights activists as well as family and friends.
The service is scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. CDT (1:00 p.m. ET) at Shiloh Temple International Ministries, a historically Black church in north Minneapolis. The Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy, as he did at Floyd’s funeral last year.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued a proclamation calling on residents of the state to honor two minutes of silence at the start of the funeral, saying Wright’s death was connected to the
“deep, systemic racism” faced daily by Black people.
“While nothing can bring Daunte Wright back to his loved ones, we must continue to work to enact real, meaningful change at the local, state, and national levels to fight systemic racism so that every person in Minnesota – Black, Indigenous, Brown, or White – can be safe and thrive,” Walz said.
On Tuesday a Minneapolis jury convicted Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police force, on all three counts of murder and manslaughter for killing Floyd by pressing his knee into his neck for more than nine minutes last May.
At a public viewing on Wednesday Wright’s aunt, Kristie Bryant, described Wright as a doting father to his two-year-old son, who he “loved with all his heart”. She said Wright was always smiling and loved to play basketball.
“I feel sadness. I feel like my heart was tore out of my chest,” Bryant said after viewing Wright in an open, white casket covered in red roses.
While Chauvin’s conviction brought a measure of satisfaction to people calling for an end to brutality and racism in policing, to many Wright’s death served as a reminder of the risks facing Black people during encounters with police.
Police video of the shooting shows multiple officers attempting to arrest Wright for an outstanding warrant and an ensuing scuffle. The video then shows Kimberly Potter threatening to stun Wright with her Taser before firing her handgun. She can be heard saying she shot him a few moments later. Before resigning, former Police Chief Tim Gannon said Potter mistakenly used her gun instead of her Taser.
Potter, who also resigned after the incident, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Potter has not entered a plea and her lawyer, Earl Gray, has not commented about the case.
The shooting of Wright set off more than a week of demonstrations outside the Brooklyn Center police headquarters that turned violent at times, with some protesters hurling objects and the police using tear gas and less-lethal rounds.
“When you watch that video your conscience tells you it is the right thing to do to stand up for Daunte Wright, to speak up for Daunte Wright, and to fight for Daunte Wright,” Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the Wright family, said at the viewing on Wednesday.
Crump is also scheduled to deliver remarks at the funeral.