BROOKLYN CENTER, Minn. – Congregations across the country marched and mourned for the third consecutive year on Tuesday in remembrance Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man who was fatally shot by a police officer after a traffic obstruction over the weekend.
Police and protesters faced each other again in the Brooklyn Center after dark. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the city’s closely guarded police headquarters, now surrounded by concrete barriers and a tall metal fence, and where riot gear and soldiers from the National Guard stood guard. “Murderapolis” was scrawled on a concrete barrier with black spray paint.
“Whose street? Our street! ”The crowd sang under the light snowfall.
About 90 minutes before the curfew ended, state police announced over the loudspeaker that the gathering had been declared illegal and ordered the crowd to disperse. This quickly sparked confrontations, with protesters firing fireworks at the station and throwing objects at the police, who fired lightning strikes and gas grenades, and then marched in a line to push the crowd back.
“You are hereby ordered to disperse,” the authorities announced, warning that anyone who did not leave would be arrested. State police said the dissemination order was issued before the 10 p.m. curfew because protesters tried to tear down fences and throw stones at the police. The number of demonstrators fell rapidly over the next hour until there were only a few left. The police also ordered all media members to leave the scene and threatened to arrest them.
At least one person was injured when police fired ammunition to control the crowd. Video shown.
“The Brooklyn Center passed a resolution banning unnecessary crowd control measures to quell the protest, including rubber bullets, tear gas and kettles.” American Civil Liberties Union Chapter in Minnesota said on Twitter. “We urge all law enforcement agencies there to follow this policy and remember that compliance with the Constitution is part of your job.”
Across town, in freezing weather, more than two dozen prayed and respected the memorial erected on Monday night when Wright was killed – a huge rust-brown sculpture of a clenched fist surrounded by bouquets of flowers, messages and candles.
Samuel Howell, 65, of Princeton, Minnesota, fell to his knees and began to cry at the sight. He told USA TODAY that he is a retired San Bernardino, California police officer but his son-in-law is Black.
“I’m just thinking, ‘What if it were him?'” He said. ‘Or my grandchildren? ‘Lives are precious. “
Two women comforted and hugged him and said, “We’ll get through this together.”
“The whole community feels helpless,” said Katie Russell, 34, of Brooklyn Park.
As the Brooklyn Center mourned, other cities across the country began to protest.
Several dozen people marched through downtown Chicago Tuesday evening demanding justice for Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy who was fatally shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in late March. According to videos of the demonstration shared on social media, protesters could be heard chanting, “Say your name, Daunte Wright!”
In Columbus, Ohio, protesters entered the handcuffed police headquarters, according to the student newspaper The lantern. The police used pepper spray when they tried to get inside.
Dozens of people marched in downtown Sacramento, California and faced police at a local shopping complex. according to local media FOX-40.
Protesters blocked streets in Dallas, Texas. And more than 200 people marched in Philadelphia.
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Earlier Tuesday, Fficer Kim Potter, a 26-year-old police veteran, submitted her resignation letter, Mayor Mike Elliott said at a press conference. He said the city did not ask her to resign, but fired her.
“I have loved every minute of being a cop and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interests of the community, the department, and my colleagues if I resign immediately,” Potter wrote in the letter, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
Police chief Tim Gannon also resigned on Tuesday. Cmdr. Tony Gruenig, who has been with the department for 19 years, will take over the management.
A decision on whether prosecutors will indict Potter could be made as early as Wednesday. The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association said in a statement that “no conclusions should be drawn until the investigation is completed.”
The Minnesota Department of Public Security’s Criminal Arrest Bureau identified Potter as the officer who shot Wright on Sunday. The Hennepin County coroner said Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest and called his death a murder.
Gannon said he believed Potter mistook her gun for her taser when she shot Wright. The department released body camera footage of the incident in which Potter shouted “Taser” several times before the shooting and then expressed surprise when she realized she had shot Wright.
Wright’s family demanded that the officer be held accountable Tuesday in an emotional press conference with civil rights attorney Ben Crump.
“I hope that since she came forward and stepped down, she has kept her at the highest level (accountability) for being the law,” said Wright’s aunt Naisha Wright.
Crump said he was stunned to hear that another black man had been killed by police not far from where former cop Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd’s death.
“If you tell me and I didn’t see little Daunte’s face and his mother and grandmother cry, I wouldn’t believe it,” said Crump, next to the Wright and Floyd families.
Crump said he thought that during the trial “the police would show their best behavior, that they would take the greatest possible care, that they would focus on de-escalating in ways they have never focused in America.”
Katie Wright, Dauntes mother, called the day her son died “the worst day of my life”. She described the call she received when he was run over and how the woman in the passenger seat of the car called her – and she saw her son lifeless in the driver’s seat.
Meanwhile, the cities of Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, and St. Paul imposed curfews at 10 p.m.
Wright’s death on Sunday rocked a nation already unsettled by a string of police killings.
Floyd died about 10 miles away during a police arrest last May, an incident that sparked protests across the country calling for an end to racial injustice and police brutality.
About a six hour drive from Wright’s death, the Kenosha, Wisconsin, cop who shot Jacob Blake, a black man who was paralyzed from the waist down after the August shooting, has returned to regular service and will not face any administrative discipline.
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On Tuesday, Chief Daniel Miskinis posted a press release on Twitter stating that Rusten Sheskey has also been exempted from internal policy violations and has been back in service since March 31, after months of administrative leave.
Featuring: Grace Hauck, Ryan W. Miller, Erik Ferkenhoff, and Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Associated Press