Two days after ex-cop Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd, the funeral for a 20-year-old Black man killed by a police officer was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Thursday.
Kim Potter, a veteran Brooklyn Center police chief, fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop after she claimed she mistook her gun for a Taser. Wright was killed around 10 miles away from where Chauvin was on trial for killing Floyd.
Wright’s killing earlier this month devastated a community that was already exhausted and traumatized from systemic police violence against Black men. Protests over several nights in the city led to police deploying tear gas and projectiles at demonstrators.
Hundreds of masked family and friends attended Wright’s funeral at the Shiloh Temple International Ministries on Thursday. Minnesota officials and lawmakers, including Attorney General Keith Ellison, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar were also present.
The funeral, while celebrating Wright’s life as a son, brother, father, and smiling “jokester,” was also a stark reminder of the Black lives lost to police violence.
Families of other Black men killed by police, including those of Floyd, Philando Castile, Oscar Grant, and Jamar Clark, were present.
Civil rights attorney Ben Crump said that Floyd’s family had become the “the comforters and counselors” for Wright’s parents and siblings. As he spoke, the two families raised their fists in solidarity.
Wright’s parents, Katie and Aubrey Wright, tearfully remembered their son as someone whose million-dollar smile lit up the room and who was loved by everyone in his life.
Katie Wright broke down as she said that she could never have imagined being at her son’s funeral. “My son should be burying me,” she said.
She said Wright’s 1-year-old son, Daunte Jr., was the “joy of his life” and that Wright always said that he “couldn’t wait to make his son proud.”
Wright’s sister, Monica Wright, said she wished she had more time with her brother.
“He didn’t deserve this,” she said.
Wright’s older brother, Dallas Wright, recalled the many late-night conversations he had with Daunte, who told him how he wanted to better himself and talked about the man he wanted to become for his son.
“I’m going to miss him so much. He was my best friend,” Dallas said.
Wright’s uncle, Bobby Wright, laughingly remembered how he nicknamed Daunte “lemon head.”
“It’s not going to be the same without him,” Bobby said.
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton, who gave the eulogy at Floyd’s funeral in Minneapolis last year, also eulogized Wright, calling him “the prince of Brooklyn Center.”
Sharpton’s eulogy, while honoring Wright and his family, was also a call for policing reforms and laws to address systemic racism and police brutality in law enforcement.
He urged people to keep protesting, saying, “You can’t tell us to shut up and suffer.”
“We must speak up when there is injustice,” Sharpton said. “No justice, no peace.”
Crump, the attorney for the families of Floyd and Wright, got everyone in the church to chant, “Daunte Wright’s life mattered.”
He spoke about how Wright’s son was going to be old enough to “watch that video of how his father was slain so unnecessarily.”
“It’s too often the traffic stops end up as...a death sentence,” Crump said. “We’re going to have to make sure that Daunte Jr. knew that we stood up for Daunte, his father.”
Klobuchar urged the Senate to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, saying that racism in the country was not isolated but systemic.
“When we ask ourselves why Daunte Jr. has to grow up without a dad, when we ask ourselves what could possibly fill this hole Daunte left in the world, we come up empty,” she said.
After the shooting and subsequent protests, Potter resigned from the police department and was charged with second-degree manslaughter. She was released from jail after posting a $100,000 bond. Her lawyer, Earl Gray, also represents Thomas Lane, one of the officers involved in Floyd’s death, who is set to be tried in August. Gray also defended the officer who was acquitted of all charges in Philando Castile’s fatal shooting during a traffic stop.
At a public viewing at Shiloh Temple International Ministries on Wednesday, Wright’s friends and family cried before his open casket surrounded by red roses, the AP reported. An obituary at the memorial described Wright’s love for 4th of July fireworks and the months he spent in a hospital after the premature birth of his son.
Friends and family described Wright as the kind of person they could always count on. He loved his family and his son, who is about to turn 2, they said.
Wright’s cousin Mario Greer said the two of them loved to shoot Roman candles at each other during the 4th of July, which was their favorite holiday to spend together. “We’re not gonna be able to do that no more,” Greer said.
Watch Wright’s funeral here: