Massive protests broke out in Minneapolis in the US State of Minnesota after a Black man was killed in the city on Sunday, April 11. A police officer shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright while he was in his car near Brooklyn Center in the city. Wright was being apprehended for an alleged traffic violation.
The police alleged that the shooting took place after Wright tried to escape while he was being taken into custody. The shooting also led Wright’s car to crash. His partner, who was also in the car, was injured. According to his mother, the police did not disclose a valid reason while asking Wright to stop the car.
A statement released by American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Minnesota branch stated that the initial “details are troubling to the ACLU of Minnesota. Wright’s mother told several news outlets that she was on the phone with her son when he was pulled over for having a dangling air freshener on his car window.”
During the questioning, the officers found that there was a standing arrest warrant against Wright. According to the police, an attempt to take him into custody for the warrant turned into a scuffle that led to his shooting. But Wright’s family and civil rights groups have indicated that there are several inconsistencies with the police account of the shooting.
ACLU-Minnesota has called for an immediate, transparent and independent investigation by an “outside agency” that is not tied to the Brooklyn Center police precinct. Their statement expressed “deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target Black people. The warrant appears to be for a non-felony.”
“While we are waiting to learn more, we must reiterate that police violence and killings of people of color must end, as must the over-policing and racial profiling that are endemic to our white supremacist system of policing.”
The shooting occurred at a time when Minneapolis is still dealing with the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd less than a year ago. The city is keenly following the trial of Derek Chauvin, the prime accused ex-police officer charged with Floyd’s killing.
Over a hundred protesters descended to the Brooklyn Center police station demanding justice for Wright. Many of them also held placards demanding justice for Floyd. The protesters were met by dozens of riot police deployed by the city, who tried to disperse them using flash bangs, tear gas and rubber bullets. At least one person was injured, according to reports.
Following Floyd’s death, Minneapolis turned into the epicenter of the nationwide protests against racism and police violence. The movement in Minneapolis also prompted a nationwide call for police abolition, which eventually led to the city council passing the first-of-a-kind resolution to disband the Minneapolis Police Department.
The resolution which was supposed to be put through a referendum was later effectively blocked by the city charter commission, which deferred a decision on it without a date. Nevertheless, the movement to defund the police and implement radical changes in the policing system continued.