The People Have a Right to Demand Justice for Daunte Wright

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April 14, 2021

Last night, for the third night in a row, people in Brooklyn Center, MN took to the streets to protest the police killing of Daunte Wright. And for a third night, police in riot gear responded with excessive force, using pepper spray, stinging paintballs, flash bang grenades, and mass arrests to disperse and silence the protesters. 

On Monday, state, county, and local officials imposed a 7 pm curfew, clearly designed to thwart First Amendment activity.  Although the curfew was pushed to 10 pm on Tuesday, the intent was the same, to dissuade people from protesting, and to provide a pretext to declare any protest that extended past the curfew an unlawful assembly. 

Defending Rights & Dissent supports the rights of all people to protest and calls for police accountability. We call on government officials to address the root cause of people’s anger, unaccountable police violence, as opposed to suppressing the right to protest.

Once again, our nation is grappling with another Black person killed by a police officer. On April 11, in Brooklyn Center, MN, Daunte Wright was pulled over for a minor vehicle violation (precisely what the violation was remains unclear). This minor violation resulted in Wright’s life being tragically cut short. The officer claims she meant to grab her taser, but instead grabbed her gun, pulled the trigger, and killed Wright. While this officer, like all those potentially accused of a crime is entitled to due process of law, many in the community and public writ large are skeptical of this explanation.

People have repeatedly taken to the streets to demand justice for the victims of police violence and this time is no different. On Sunday night, protesters gathered at the police department. They were met with force, including flash bangs and tear gas. The next day, state, county, and city government officials set a curfew applying broadly to the Twin Cities region. Such a curfew is not only designed to thwart First Amendment activity, it interrupts the daily life of people. Reportedly, confusion over the curfew jeopardized COVID vaccination appointments, COVID testing, and Ramadan prayers. Public officials elected to respond to a police officer killing someone by depriving residents broadly of their rights.

In addition to the curfew, the National Guard was activated. Perversely, the National Guard was already on alert, awaiting the verdict in the trial of Derick Chauvin, the police officer on trial for the murder of George Floyd.  

Since the protests began, the City Manager, who is in charge of firing police, was himself fired. Both the police chief, and the officer who killed Wright have resigned. Far from being limited to just the Twin Cities area, protests are once again spreading across the nation showing widespread anger with racism and police violence. As in the past, when people have gone out to protest police violence they’ve been met with police violence themselves. This is absolutely shameful.

PHOTO CREDIT: via twitter @NickatNews