MINNEAPOLIS: Protesters faced off with police for a third night on Tuesday in the American city of Minneapolis over the killing of a young black man shot by an officer, with more than 60 people arrested, law enforcement officials said.
Tensions have soared over the Sunday police shooting of Daunte Wright near the mid-western city, in a community already on edge over the ongoing trial of an officer accused of killing another black man, George Floyd, last year.
Riot police moved in to disperse a group of demonstrators estimated to number between 800 and 1,000 in Brooklyn Centre, the suburb where Sunday’s shooting took place.
Officers deployed stun grenades while protesters responded by throwing objects including water bottles and bricks, law enforcement officials said.
Claim of accidental death rejected
Earlier in the day the families of Wright and Floyd came together to demand an end to police brutality and the killing of unarmed African Americans by white officers.
“The world is traumatised watching another African-American man being slain,” Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said of 20-year-old Wright, as he stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Wright’s relatives at an outdoor press event in driving snow.
A day earlier Philonise Floyd testified in the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer on trial for murder and manslaughter in the case of George Floyd, whose death last year shocked the nation.
“To the Wright family from the Floyd family, you all have our condolences,” Floyd said on Tuesday as he consoled the latest African-American family devastated by the death of a loved one at the hands of police. “We’re here, and we will fight for justice for this family.”
Wright was shot dead during a traffic stop by a police officer who apparently confused her handgun with her Taser, in what the force later described as a horrible accident.
The officer who shot Wright resigned on Tuesday, as did Brooklyn Centre Police Chief Tim Gannon, who had told reporters earlier that the officer “had the intention to deploy their Taser but instead shot Mr Wright with a single bullet”.
The families rejected the accident explanation, as several relatives and activists at the press event called for the officer to be arrested and jailed for her actions.
“A so-called mistake? A handgun for a Taser? It’s unacceptable,” Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams said. “Just because you are the law doesn’t mean you’re above the law,” he added. “When is enough, enough?”
For activists like Toshira Garraway, Wright’s killing is another example of the police brutality and systemic discrimination that has prompted an American reckoning on racial injustice.
Published in Dawn, April 15th, 2021