As I have followed the Derek Chauvin trial, I have watched as the Minneapolis Police Department has distanced themselves from their former colleague and sought to make him a “bad apple” as opposed to indicative of what the system was created to do. And now Daunte Wright has been murdered by Brooklyn Center police. And before George Floyd and Daunte Wright there was Philando Castile and Jamar Clark and hundreds more.
My friends, this is not a case of bad apples. This is a system whose point and purpose is to protect white supremacy and extractive capitalism. It isn’t just the Minneapolis Police Department or the Brooklyn Center Police Department or the Saint Anthony Police Department . . . it is rooted in the reality that police departments are the children of slave patrols and union-busting private squads run by industrialists.
We have to find a different way to dream about public safety. We have to find a way to move monies away from people with guns and into housing and water and food and jobs and abundant life instead of violence and death. As a Christian pastor, I want to offer my testimony that I dream of a world where the police have been abolished and I pledge to create the conditions for that to become a reality. #BlackLivesAreSacred
In the three weeks of Chauvin’s trial, the former officer’s defenders have noted that there was fentanyl in George Floyd’s blood, and suggested he expired not because of the knee on his neck but because he abused opioids. After Daunte Wright’s death yesterday, those defending the police officer who shot him argued that Wright had brought the deadly outcome on himself by resisting arrest.
But here’s the thing: Mr. Floyd and Mr. Wright are not on trial. Whether they abused drugs, or passed bad bills, or did something that warranted arrest, or did all of those things or none of them simply does not matter. They are not on trial.
What is on trial is the fundamental American principle of equality before the law. Our law enforcement officers are supposed to use the force of the state to deliver suspected lawbreakers to our criminal justice system. And yet, in both of these cases – and so many others in which a Black person has died at the hands of police – the officers apparently killed suspected offenders instead of delivering them to the legal system guaranteed under our Constitution. Individual police officers appear to have taken the law into their own hands and become judge, jury, and executioner.
Either Floyd and Wright had the right to due legal process, or police officers could condemn them to death without the due process of the law. If the former, it is imperative to defend the principle of equality before the law against those who would undermine that principle. If the latter, Floyd and Wright are not equal to white Americans, and we need to revisit exactly what sort of government we have.
The sheer incompetency of the police officer in the Daunte Wright situation should have everyone angry.
The weight of a loaded gun is usually around five pounds while a Taser is less than a pound. It is also required that an officer’s gun and Taser be carried on separate sides from each other. There are zero excuses that can be brought to defend the officer. The biggest shame is that Daunte Wright died, the second biggest shame is that the officer will most likely only be charged with manslaughter, if that.
Those who are supporting the officer’s side in this case and those choosing to not speak out are showing how biased they really are. Those who cannot call out injustice when it is so clearly presented cannot claim to seek justice.
Those who support the police and those who do not, need to come together to demand changes to police training starting with mandatory bachelor’s degrees for all new officers and intense stress and situational training for all officers taking place every couple of years.
This case is not about Daunte attempting to get in the car and flee; it is not about any warrant for his arrest. It is solely about a police officer being so poorly trained and so incompetent that a Child of God lost his life.
– Parker Kantos
April 12, 2021
April 12, 2021
Daunte Wright’s son is not much older than mine. . . . They kinda look alike too. . . . I cannot imagine being taken from my son. I cannot imagine the pain Daunte’s family feels right now. I cannot understand how Black children “accidentally” get murdered by police at a rate exponentially higher than anyone else.
I cannot. . . .
#DaunteWright. Say His Name.
– Nikkolas Smith
April 12, 2021
April 12, 2021
It feels like May 26, 2020 all over again. In these moments of injustice and uprising, I can lean only on our ancestors’ wisdom. MLK words are with me tonight as they were last May.
“I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear? . . . It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice, equality, and humanity. And so in a real sense our nation’s summers of riots are caused by our nation’s winters of delay. And as long as America postpones justice, we stand in the position of having these recurrences of violence and riots over and over again. Social justice and progress are the absolute guarantors of riot prevention.”
– Robin Wonsley
April 12, 2021
April 12, 2021
Man, it just never ends. Even as another cop pointlessly kills another black guy in Minneapolis – this time for having air fresheners in his car, reportedly accidentally mistaking a gun for a taser – harrowing video has surfaced showing a pair of yahoo, frantic, racist, inept small-town cops in Windsor, Virginia stopping, tasing, harassing, pulling guns on and otherwise terrorizing a black and Latino lieutenant in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, in uniform yet, for . . . NOTHING.
The police bodycam footage from December – yes, it took four months for anyone to notice, and only after the video went viral, because duh, America, racist police, so nu? – shows model victim, except for the black and Latino part, 2nd Lieut. Caron Nazario getting pulled over by fat white bozo cop Joe Gutierrez and his young punk partner Daniel Crocker for the crime of pulling into a brightly lit gas station before stopping, having tinted windows on his new SUV, and not having tags displayed on the back except actually he did, with a temporary dealer plate plainly visible in the video, which makes it kinda a mystery why clueless itchy-fingered redneck cops in Virginia would pull over a black dude in a nice new SUV: “In the car: professional soldier. Outside the car: ragebeast with a GED, a few months of half-assed training, and a gun.”
At first, Nazario is calmly curious, chewing gum and repeatedly asking, "What’s going on?" Evidently because he wasn’t acting suitably intimidated, Gutierrez goes ballistic, whipping out his gun and hysterically screaming at the scary black guy in uniform – Stars and Stripes infuriatingly visible on his sleeve – both to “Get out of the car!!” and “Keep your hands outside the window!!” as he tells Nazario, “What’s going on is you’re fixing to ride the lightning, son,” understandably referencing . . . the electric chair.
Things escalate quickly. Crocker keeps his gun on Navario as Gutierrez yells, rages, snarls at Navario, “You received an order – obey it!”, pepper-sprays him in the face, yanks him from the car, kicks him to the ground, and handcuffs him. Navario grows ever more distraught: “Why am I being treated like this? . . . I’m serving my country and this is how I’m treated? . . . This is fucked up, this is fucked up.” Once he’s cuffed, the cops search his car and find . . . nothing, except Nazario’s dog suffering from the pepper-spray. Cue classic, shameless, oh-shit-what-did-we-do bullying that passes for cop remorse as Gutierrez threatens Nazario with repercussions if he complains about being brutalized.
After higher-ups viewed the footage, Gutierrez was fired; Crocker remains on the force. In early April, Nazario sued both officers, seeking $1 million for violating his rights through excessive force and unlawful search and seizure, part of what his attorney Jonathan Adler calls “a disgusting nationwide trend of (police) who, believing they can operate with complete impunity, engage (in) racially biased, dangerous, and sometimes deadly abuses of authority.” Like many before him, he cites the need “to stop this conduct . . . to hold these officers accountable.” Others fiercely argue we must “revolutionize police accountability” so that ordinary people of color don’t have to live in terror of racist, ill-trained, “hair-trigger” police whose violence is “fucking outrageous.”
Also fucking outrageous: It’s been 75 years since another infamous attack on a black soldier; 50 years since Marvin Gaye asked what’s goin’ on; a year since George Floyd cried he couldn’t breathe. “This is racism," wrote Julian Castro. “It’s about domination and humiliation of a black man because he asked questions and ‘didnt comply.’” And still and all, it continues.
– Abby Zimet
“What’s Going On?”
April 12, 2021
“What’s Going On?”
April 12, 2021
Related Off-site Links
Protests Erupt After Police Kill Black Man During Traffic Stop Near Minneapolis – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, April 12, 2021).
Brooklyn Center Police Chief: Officer Meant to Use Taser, Not Firearm, on Daunte Wright – Liz Navratil and Stephen Montemayor (Star Tribune, April 12, 2021).
How Does an Officer Use a Gun Instead of a Taser? – The Associated Press via MPR News (April 12, 2021).
Night of Unrest Follows Fatal Brooklyn Center Police Shooting – Evan Frost (MPR News, April 12, 2021).
Curfew In Effect In Metro Area – Matt Sepic, Nina Moini, Peter Cox and Tim Nelson (MPR News, April 12, 2021).
Why Black People ‘Resist Arrest’ – Mike Muse (Level, June 18, 2020).
There’s a Growing Call to Defund the Police. Here’s What It Means – Scottie Andrew (CNN, June 17, 2020).
Six Reasons Why It’s Time to Defund the Police – Mary Zerkel (AFSC.org, June 11, 2020).
Defunding the Police Will Actually Make Us Safer – Paige Fernandez (Cosmopolitan via ACLU.org, June 11, 2020).
It’s Perfectly Fine to Call It “Defunding” the Police – John H. McWhorter (Slate, July 18, 2020).
“Policing Is Fundamentally a Tool of Social Control to Facilitate Our Exploitation”: An Interview with Alex S. Vitale – Micah Uetricht (Jacobin, June 8, 2020).
Media Acknowledge Drive to Defund Police – But Seek to Blunt Its Radical Edge – Julie Hollar (FAIR, June 11, 2020).
What America Can Learn From Nordic Police – Ryan Cooper (The Week, June 5, 2020).
How a Minnesota Paper Is Covering the Chauvin Trial From the Black Perspective – Ari Shapiro (NPR News, April 8, 2021).
UPDATES: Daunte Wright’s Death Ruled a Homicide by Hennepin County Medical Examiner – Adrienne Broaddus and Keith Allen (CNN, April 12, 2021).
Police Officer Who Fatally Shot Daunte Wright Identified as Kim Potter – Rebecca Falconer (Axios, April 12, 2021).
White Cop Who Shot Daunte Wright Named as Hundreds Defy Curfew – Justin Rohrlich (The Daily Beast, April 12, 2021).
Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter and Police Chief Tim Gannon Resign; Mayor Wants Attorney General Keith Ellison to Handle Wright Case – Matt Sepic and Tim Nelson (MPR News, April 13, 2021).
Officer Who Shot Wright to Face 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charge – MPR News (April 14, 2021).
Kim Potter Found Guilty Over Killing of Daunte Wright – Joanna Walters (The Guardian, December 23, 2021).
Investigation Shows Minneapolis Police Show Pattern of Violating Rights, Attorney General Merrick Garland Says – Steve Karnowski and Jim Salter (PBS NewsHour, June 16, 2023).
Department of Justice Finds Minneapolis Police Had a Pattern of “Unconstitutional Policing” – Martin Kaste and Don Gonyea (NPR News, June 17, 2023).
8 Takeaways From the Justice Department Probe of Minneapolis Police – MPR News (June 17, 2023).
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
• Bearing Witness
• The Problem Is Ultimately Bigger Than Individuals. It’s Systemic
• “I Can’t Breathe”: The Murder of George Floyd
• Something to Think About – May 28, 2020
• Honoring George Floyd
• “New and Very Dangerous”: The Extreme Right-Wing Infiltration of the George Floyd Protests
• He Called Mama. He Has Called Up Great Power
• Marianne Williamson: Quote of the Day – June 2, 2020
• Emma Jordan-Simpson: “There Will Be No Peace Without Justice”
• Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor: Quote of the Day – June 9, 2020
• “An Abolitionist Demand”: Progressive Perspectives on Transforming Policing in the U.S.
• Something to Think About – July 21, 2020
• Rallying in Solidarity with Eric Garner and Other Victims of Police Brutality
• In Minneapolis, Rallying in Solidarity with Black Lives in Baltimore
• “Say Her Name” Solidarity Action
• “We Are All One” – #Justice4Jamar and the 4th Precinct Occupation
• Nancy A. Heitzeg: Quote of the Day – March 31, 2016
• “This Doesn’t Happen to White People”
• Remembering Philando Castile and Demanding Abolition of the System That Targets and Kills People of Color
• Photo of the Day, 5/3/2015: “Black Is Sacred”
• “And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part I)
• “And Still We Rise!” – Mayday 2015 (Part II)
• Something to Think About – March 25, 2016
• Thoughts on Prayer in a “Summer of Strife”