Daunte Wright remembered as ‘prince of Brooklyn Center’
At the funeral for the 20-year-old shot by a police officer, emotions ran high amid calls for law enforcement reform.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States – The funeral of Daunte Wright concluded on Thursday with tears and calls for law enforcement reform.
Wright, 20, was fatally shot by former Brooklyn Center Police officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop on April 11.
Wright’s death came amid an already-charged political atmosphere caused by the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
But Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, chose not to wade into calls for reform as she broke down in tears, remembering her son at the Shiloh Temple church in north Minneapolis.
“My son should be burying me,” she said.
“My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars. When he walked in the room, he lit up the room. He was a brother, a jokester, he was loved by so many. He’s going to be so missed.”
Reverend Al Sharpton, who gave Wright’s eulogy, did call for reform.
Calling Wright the “prince of Brooklyn Center”, he drew a direct line between Floyd’s death last May that sparked an international movement against police brutality, and the killing of Wright.
“In the name of Daunte, we are going to pass the ‘George Floyd Policing Act’ as federal law,” he said.
The act would end certain police practices, such as chokeholds that can be deadly, as well as improving police training and other measures.
It was passed by the House of Representatives in March, but has yet to see action in the Senate.
Chauvin’s conviction on all three charges – second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter – have made some feel change is brewing in the US in regards to police reform.
But in Minneapolis, local organisations and activists have told Al Jazeera they fear the victory will cause people to “relax” in the fight against police brutality.
The scene outside the church was warm, with a large crowd of mostly media in attendance.
Margaret Morgan stood outside the church, holding a sign with Wright’s face as his funeral procession left for Wright’s final resting place at Lakewood Cemetery in southwest Minneapolis.
Morgan, a lifelong resident of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and neighbouring St Paul, told Al Jazeera there was more work to be done.
Potter’s charges should be upgraded to murder, she said. “There’s no excuse. You can’t be a veteran and also training other officers to do the job you’ve been doing for so long and make a rookie mistake like that.”
Wright’s death, documented in Potter’s body-worn camera footage, appears to show the 26-year veteran office mistake her gun for a Taser.
She also pointed to the trials of Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who face charges of aiding and abetting the murder and manslaughter of Floyd.
The three have to convince a jury they played no part in the crime, a tough task following Chauvin’s conviction.
Morgan expressed a lack of faith in the criminal justice system, citing her community’s “generations-long” negative experiences with police across the Twin Cities.
“I’m hoping it doesn’t turn into ‘A Few Good Men’ situation, following officer’s orders,” Morgan said, referencing the 1992 film where US Marines are ordered to kill a fellow Marine by a superior officer, and are acquitted of murder charges.
“I think the right thing for them to do is admit their guilt. Take a plea bargain. We’ve already been through so much with Chauvin’s trial”, she said.