Daunte Wright’s assassination pleads for cutbacks in police budgets

Three weeks after Derek Chauvin’s trial in Minneapolis for the murder of George Floyd, a white policeman in the nearby suburb of Brooklyn Center killed a young black man named Daunte Wright and illustrated in tragic terms how the forces of the order remain engaged in a racist war. over black America despite national control. Officer Kimberly Potter, a 26-year-old veteran of his department, allegedly took the gun for his taser and fired a single shot, killing the 20-year-old as he struggled in his car in front of his girlfriend , who was driving as a passenger.

Like so many black Americans, Wright rightly feared police interactions. His mentor, Jonathan Mason, said: “He was afraid the police would do something like that to him.” Lawyer Benjamin Crump, who has represented the families of countless police victims in civil lawsuits, said: “We don’t see this stuff happening to young white people that we see happening over and over and over and over and over again and again. again to young marginalized minorities. “

The black fear of the police is based on a provable bias on the part of the police. The Stanford Open Policing Project studied nearly 100 million police stops and found that “officers typically stop black drivers at higher rates than white drivers” and that “black and Hispanic drivers are searched more often than white drivers ”. Additionally, “police require less suspicion to search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers,” which the researchers say “is evidence of discrimination.”

According to Wright’s mother, he was arrested in part because there was an air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror – yet another ridiculous excuse to add to the list of remarkably mundane reasons black Americans raise suspicion. of the police. The Minnesota ACLU released a statement saying it was “deeply concerned that police here appear to have used hanging air fresheners as an excuse to make a pretextual stop, which police do too often to target black people.

Leave it to the Wall Street Journal to urge caution in rushing to try the officer and instead accuse the protesters of using the shooting as “an excuse for violence.” The newspaper rarely, if ever, expresses its outrage at the countless racist police murders in America.

Independent black journalists like KingDemetrius Pendleton have been covering the Chauvin trial and the protests against Floyd’s murder for the past year and have a radically different take on the situation. In an interview, Pendleton explained to me that Floyd’s murder “was like a public lynching” and then “seeing Daunte Wright killed the same way” was heartbreaking for local residents. Pendleton is from the community that is deeply affected by police violence in Minneapolis and regularly provides a platform for police anti-brutality activists and family members of police victims.

Pendleton explained that it was ridiculous for us to expect young people to “calm down” in the face of state violence. After Wright’s murder, mass protests in Minneapolis and the Brooklyn Center resulted in dozens of arrests as angry residents clashed with police. “They are tired of seeing their young friends get killed by the police, and they know nothing is going to happen because nothing ever happens,” Pendleton said. It is a familiar scenario that when protesters speak out against police killings, they focus more on their righteous rage than on the state violence they are exposing. Pendleton invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “A riot is the language of the unheard of.” “African Americans don’t have therapists and all that. They just have to deal with the trauma, ”Pendleton said.

Just as the Wall Street Journal’s comments focused on protesters rather than police killings were deaf, so too were Joe Biden’s calls for “peace and quiet”. After Wright’s death, the president said, “There is absolutely no justification – none – for looting, no justification for violence. He was not talking about the actual violence of the police, but rather the potential violence of the protesters.

If calls for calm are stronger than calls for justice, then America’s message to black people is to shut up and be killed. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) was more direct, tweeting that Wright’s murder was a “government-funded murder” and that “the police in our country are inherently and intentionally racist”.

Most importantly, Tlaib articulated the solution to this state violence against blacks: “No more policing, incarceration and militarization. It cannot be reformed, ”she wrote. She was referring to calls from Black Lives Matter activists to “Defund the Police,” on the basis that the city’s massive budget spending on law enforcement is best served by going directly to community services. . Conservative and even liberal responses to the problem of police violence have been to throw more money at the police, not less. Even after last year’s Black Lives Matter protests demanded police budgets be cut, most still received increases over city services that directly help communities. Among the many police reforms that promised to end the violence, but only made it more, were body cameras for police officers.

In Wright’s case, Agent Potter’s body camera did nothing to deter his backlash. What he did was show how much she increased the violence as the police often do. Seeing the footage, Pendleton said it was clear to him that the African American officer who was arresting Wright was “manipulating him at first, and then you see this white woman come in and just grab him. and it has essentially intensified. the whole situation.

Within hours of Wright’s shooting, Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon gave Constable Potter the benefit of the doubt, saying, “I think the officer intended to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. “Law enforcement and their allies routinely justify police misconduct as understandable mistakes resulting from work pressures. Yet they blame victims of police killings for not behaving calmly under the volatile circumstances of the terrifying arrests by the police. seasoned armed forces.

Potter and Gannon resigned two days after Wright’s murder, and in his terse resignation letter Potter said it was “in the best interests of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I quit immediately.” While immediate resignations following a police murder offer minimal progress over the inaction that characterizes most police killings, this is not enough. Wright’s aunt, Nyesha Wright, said at a press conference: “Pursue them, as they will pursue us.” Potter has now been charged with second degree manslaughter.

So far, only one Minneapolis-area police officer in recent memory has been prosecuted, convicted and sentenced to more than a decade for a fatal shooting: Mohamed Noor, a black and Somali American officer who accidentally shot a gun. White Australian named Justine Ruszczyk, killing her. During Noor’s trial, his victim was deeply humanized and the loss of her life was described as the tragedy that it rightly was. Former Officer Noor expressed deep remorse for what he did, saying, “I thought about it and prayed for two years, since I took the life of Justine Ruszczyk. “

Compare that to the lack of remorse shown by Chauvin and Potter for the lives of their black victims. It remains to be seen whether these two white officers will be held accountable for their actions. In the meantime, the police will continue to kill and politicians will continue to urge calm in the face of the carnage while rewarding the police with more money under the guise of “reforms.”

This article was produced by Economy for all, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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