Minneapolis bristles with tension once again over police killing

Violent scenes all too familiar as protests continue over shooting of Daunte Wright

The fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb appeared to be an "accidental discharge" by an officer who drew her gun during a struggle rather than her taser, the city's police chief has said. Video: Reuters

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As darkness fell, the streets of Minneapolis emptied. But a short drive north, hundreds of people gathered near the Brooklyn Center police headquarters in defiance of a city-wide curfew.

More than 10 months after the death of George Floyd, Minneapolis is once again bristling with tension.

On Sunday, Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old African-American man, was shot and killed by a police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center.

As with the death of George Floyd, the killing was captured on video – this time from the bodycam of a police officer on the scene. On Tuesday, Kimberley Potter, the police officer who shot and killed the young man, resigned.

The city was braced for further unrest overnight, as local residents, activists and family members prepared to take to the streets to protest at the loss of another black life at the hands of the police.

Despite calls from Mr Wright’s mother for peaceful protests, violence flared between protesters and police on Monday night. State troopers and National Guard members in helmets and riot gear faced off with protestors late into the evening, in scenes that have become all too familiar in America. Protesters shouted “Hands up, don’t shoot”, and some hurled implements towards the police lines; troops moved forward in increments, pushing the crowd of hundreds of demonstrators further north, away from the police station, now heavily fortified behind a concrete and steel barrier.

Expired licence plates

“The police are supposed to be here to help us, not hurt us,” said Ikyle Manger, a young mother who lives in the apartment block across from the police headquarters. Like many of the local residents here, she pointed out that many people have expired car licence plates – the alleged traffic violation for which Daunte Wright ultimately paid with his life – due to Covid restrictions.

“It does not give her the right to pull out a gun and shoot him,” she said of Ms Potter. Police officials say the 26-year veteran of the police force mistakenly used her gun instead of her taser when she shot Daunte Wright.

Twelve kilometres south, the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who pressed his knee on George Floyd’s neck as he died, continued for its 12th day. The defence attorneys began their arguments on Tuesday, seeking to convince the jury that Mr Floyd’s death was not due to the sustained pressure on his neck inflicted by Mr Chauvin but from underlying health conditions or drug use.

Outside the courthouse, the families of Mr Floyd and Mr Wright spoke about their pain at the death of another African-American man at the hands of police.  Ben Crump, attorney for the families, said that most people detained for a minor traffic infraction should simply get a ticket. The difference for Daunte Wright, he said, was he was “driving while black”.

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