Brooklyn Center residents are confused about how to express their anger and dismay. Then, in chorus, in the freezing rain, a few hundred of them chanted, at regular intervals, the name of Daunte Wright. Gathered for the third consecutive evening in front of the police station of this charmless suburb of Minneapolis (Minnesota), Tuesday, April 13, the crowd, young and mixed, thus pays tribute to the young African-American of 20 years killed by the shooting of a policewoman during a roadside check on Sunday.
His photo, of a teenage face just emerging from childhood wearing a large red cap, is brandished at arm’s length in front of the building, protected by concrete blocks, fences and duly National Guard soldiers. armed. The previous days, clashes erupted, spilling over into the surrounding streets and some neighborhood businesses, now locked behind plywood. On Tuesday, a few dozen people still clashed with the police just before the curfew.
Earlier in the evening, surgical mask on her face, Carolina Montenegro, a young mother of 21, did not hide her anger: “How can we say that the death of Daunte is” an accident “? If the police had arrested a white woman, it would never have happened like this. ” Kimberly Potter, the policewoman who, with two of her colleagues, carried out the identity check of the young man, claimed to have confused his handgun with his taser. When the shot went off, hitting the driver full in the chest, in front of her friend’s eyes, the 46-year-old senior civil servant cursed and immediately recognized: “I shot him!” She resigned on Tuesday, as did the city’s police chief.
This hasty decision, suggested the day before by the mayor, of Liberian origin, of Brooklyn Center, Mike Elliott, is not enough for the demonstrators and the family of the young man. At the microphone, activists demand equal justice for “whites and blacks”. “Throw her in jail as you would for us,” also launched earlier in the day, the aunt of the young dead, Naisha Wright, during a press conference held in front of the court of Minneapolis, in company of lawyer Ben Crump. The latter represents many African-American families victims of police violence, in particular the family of George Floyd, who died in May 2020 under the knee of the police officer Derek Chauvin and whose trial has been held for three weeks in the city center.
“The police officer must be prosecuted and condemned”, also believes Rudy, come to show his “fed up”. This African-American father has eight children, including “five guys” whom he raises “between prudence and fear”. “When the police commit a criminal act, it should be treated as such. But justice protects them. ” “We have the impression that the same story is repeated over and over again,” testifies fatally Kevin Fenner, 53, of whom fifteen were in prison for possession of crack cocaine. “We grew up with all these deaths, but since there were no cell phones, no one knew. I have known too much of George Floyd. “
“Once again, we witnessed a murder”, asserts, for her part, Jolie Larson, “as sad as angry”. The face crossed out by a Black Lives Matter (BLM) mask, this young white woman pleads for “systemic changes in the police and justice of her country”. For her, the indictment and trial of Derek Chauvin, a rare procedure in this type of case, constitute “a first positive step”.
“Racism is still there”
At the foot of the memorial built in a few hours along the residential street where young Daunte died, Lois Piper is less optimistic. In front of an imposing clenched fist, symbol of the BLM movement, surrounded by candles, balloons, soft toys, bottles of alcohol and multicolored flowers, the white septuagenarian rather sees in the terrible telescoping of these two cases of police violence the proof of ‘a failure. “That Daunte is killed now, in the midst of the Chauvin trial, shows that there hasn’t really been any progress in the police force in recent months.” Painted in bright red, the young man’s name has already been added to the asphalt at the crossroads where Mr. Floyd died, a no man’s land turned into a memorial to all victims of police brutality.
Double irony of fate, the anti-racist activist learned of the death of Daunte Wright while taking part in a march in memory of a young black man who died after a chase with the police… eleven years ago. “Nothing has changed. Racism is still there; the problem of this country is white supremacism. ” As if to confirm his words, a white cyclist passes at this moment, shouting to the few people of all origins gathered on the sidewalk: “Go all f …”, while a pick-up surmounted by a large flag “Trump 2020” goes on, whirring, back and forth in front of the memorial.
Without paying attention, a young Métis, who says her name is Diamond Love, hangs a bunch of electric blue balloons on a pole. “I knew Daunte, she was a good person,” she says, holding back tears. I couldn’t say goodbye to him. ” Diamond is 20 years old and a 4 month old “black skinned” son. “I’m already afraid for him. When, in sixteen years, he has a car, I want him to survive a police check. “