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Ahead of Chauvin verdict, Minnesota police shock world with murder of Daunte Wright

Photo: Protest in Brooklyn Center, April 12. Credit — Liberation

Despite intense police and National Guard repression, protests have continued demanding justice for 20-year-old Black Minnesota resident Daunte Wright. Wright was shot and killed April 11 in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center by cop union president Kim Potter. Police say they arrested 40 people breaking up the demonstration the next night. 

The killing took place just outside Minneapolis, where the eyes of the world are fixed awaiting the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Even when they know they are in not just the national but the global spotlight, the police cannot hide their true nature — frontline enforcers of white supremacy, willing to employ deadly violence. 

Potter stopped Wright and his girlfriend on the pretext that he had an air freshener dangling from the rear-view mirror of his car. Horrifying video evidence has been made public showing Potter escalating the situation and ultimately killing Wright with her handgun. The day after a mass militant protest marched to and surrounded the Brooklyn Center police station, Potter revised her story. She claimed she thought she had a Taser in her hand instead of a gun. Anyone looking at both weapons would know immediately there is no way a Taser can be mistaken for a gun, least of all by a police officer who has received extensive training in both.

This is a case of a cop knowing she is guilty and trying to lie her way out of murdering a young Black man. Wright was on the phone with his mother and followed her instructions, knowing the danger he faced at the hands of the police.

Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old Black youth, was murdered New Year’s Day 2009 in Oakland, California, by Johannes Mehserle, a white police officer, Mehserle also claimed he mistook his gun for a Taser. He had handcuffed Grant, and while he straddled over Grant lying on his stomach at a BART Metro train station, Mehserle shot Grant dead in cold blood. This prompted an uprising and a protracted period of struggle across the country.

There is no way to confuse the two weapons. And yet the corporate media is already blaring headlines to excuse Potter. The New York Times ran an article with the headline, “Minnesota Officer Who Shot Daunte Wright Meant to Fire Taser, Chief Says.” 

Brooklyn Center is essentially a continuation of the working class and heavily Black neighborhood of Camden in northern Minneapolis. Much as in the working class southern Minneapolis neighborhoods alongside Lake Street, near where George Floyd was killed one year ago, the police in Brooklyn Center act as an occupying army. Brooklyn Center cops have killed six residents since 2012; most recently a 21-year-old man named Kobe Dimock-Heisler. Daunte’s killer, Kim Potter, herself responded to that event and advised the killer cops on how to escape criminal responsibility in that incident. And until Monday evening, including during initial protests for Daunte Wright on Sunday night, the Brooklyn Center police department flew the fascistic “Thin Blue Line” flag.

Beyond crocodile tears, the state and police have demonstrated no concern for the value of Daunte Wright’s life or his family’s and community’s grief. Wright’s family declared a mourning vigil to be observed at the site of his death at 7 p.m., asking attendees to bring electronic candles due to the likelihood of rain. Shortly after the vigil was announced, Minnesota’s Democratic governor Tim Walz declared a curfew in most Twin Cities counties — to begin at exactly 7 p.m.!

Many hundreds of community members hit the streets on both April 11 and 12. The state once again responded to the righteous anger of the people with naked militarized repression. Since the first night, the order of the day has been curfews, pepper spray and tear gas by police — coupled with the intimidating presence of heavily armed National Guard troops. 

But the oppressed and working class in the Twin Cities know very well that struggle is what wins prosecutions of racist killer cops. As local activist Mel Reeves put it the day after the killing: “Don’t nobody here believe that Derek Chauvin would be on trial if we weren’t protesting. … They put Derek Chauvin on trial because they were scared of you!” And in Brooklyn Center, the people have already succeeded in forcing the dismissal of City Manager Curt Boganey, the official who initially refused to fire Kim Potter. The people will continue to hit the streets until Kim Potter and all other killer cops are fired, arrested, charged, convicted and incarcerated for their crimes against Black youth!

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