Brooklyn Center, MN – As of April 15, there have been five days and nights of protests, vigils, press conferences, city council scrambling, firings and resignations – as well as outright battles between protesters and the law enforcement bodies from around the state that converged here after the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.
The community actions by local grassroots movements have continued to pour out after the murder of Wright by former Brooklyn Center Police Department Officer Kim Potter, with some small victories.
On Sunday, April 11, Daunte Wright was pulled over by officer Kim Potter for an expired license plate. Daunte then called his mother asking for insurance information. Then the officer comes and orders Daunte to hang up the call and to get out of the car. Daunte asks, “For what?” and the officer responds “I’ll tell you when you get out of the car.” Officer Kim Potter, accompanied by two other officers, then attempted to handcuff him. Their reason was due to his hanging an air freshener in the rearview mirror of his car. Daunte understandably panics and tries to get back in the car. Potter then yells, “Taser, taser, taser!” and pulls out a handgun and shoots him dead.
This brutality sparked more protests, bringing hundreds of people from across the Twin Cities area to protest that night, the next four days, and into the foreseeable future.
While the people forced the Brooklyn Center police to stand down (the city of Brooklyn Center ordered them to not overtly fight the protesters) the state forces were poised to squelch the people’s rights to assembly and speech.
The so-called Operation Safety Net, put in place by the government to prepare against the people’s rage over the Floyd trial, was implemented early in the wake of Wright’s murder. On April 12, Governor Tim Walz declared a 7 p.m. curfew in the Twin Cities metro area. The city of Minneapolis declared their bought-and-paid-for groups of “Street Navigators” specifically exempt from the curfew; some of members of those groups actively disrupted speakers at protests. Also, hundreds of forces – ranging from the National Guard to Minnesota state patrol, Department of Natural Resources (DNR), county sheriffs, and on down to neighboring police departments – stood in formation against protesters. These authorities have been relentless in repressing the natural and righteous outrage of the protesters.
Despite the obstacles thrown by the Twin Cities’ governments towards the grassroots activists, such as imposing curfews and calling the Minnesota National Guard, there have already been some victories in pursuit of justice. On April 14, after pressure from multiple grassroots community activists and organizations, as well as from media coverage from across the world, officer Kim Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter, although activists are calling for the charges to be increased.
In addition, the pressure has forced the dismissal of former Brooklyn Center City Manager Curt Boganey, and the resignation of former Chief of Police Tim Gannon.
At the legislative level, bills written and pushed by anti-police crimes groups under the umbrella Minnesota Justice Coalition were given hearings this week, after months of being denied.
This murder occurs in the wake of the first trial of officer Derek Chauvin, the cop who murdered George Floyd in June 2020. Local activists point out that the repeated offences from the multiple police departments across the Twin Cities area indicate a larger problem with the police departments themselves.
The Twin Cities Coalition for Justice for Jamar, or TCC4J, is one of the grassroots organizations which has been actively fighting for community control of police since the police murder of Jamar Clark in November 2015. They just launched a petition drive to change the Minneapolis city charter so the community can exert some control over choosing the chief of police and holding officers with cases of brutality accountable – a Civilian Police Accountability Commission, or CPAC for short.
Besides keeping up the fight for justice for Daunte Wright, the MN Justice Coalition and dozens of other groups will protest in downtown Minneapolis on April 19, 5 p.m. That is when closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial are expected to be over, and the case for the murder of George Floyd goes to the jury.
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