In The News This Week: Minnesota Police Fatally Shoot Young Black Man During Routine Traffic Violation

Duante Wright.

Tensions were inflamed again Sunday afternoon when police officers fatally shot a young black man who had been pulled over during a routine traffic stop. The motorist had been pulled over just before 2 p.m.. The incident occured in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, about ten miles from where George Floyd met his fate at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a Minnesota police officer, for whose death he is currently on trial.

The young victim was identified as Duante Wright, age 20. It was discovered that he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest, and while attempting to take him into custody, Wright got back into his vehicle and attempted to flee the scene, but was shot by one the officers. Despite being fatally wounded, Wright managed to drive at least several blocks, striking another vehicle. At the time of the shooting, it has been reported that Wright’s girlfriend had been in the car with him.

Medical personnel attempted, without success, to revive the young man.

The victim’s mother, Katie Wright, told reporters that Duante had called her and said that the police had pulled him over for having an air freshener attached to his rearview mirror, allegedly a violation in Minnesota. She said she asked him to put one of the officers on phone in order to give them car insurance information.

She said she heard officers tell Duante not to run, and that was when the call ended. “A minute later I called back, and his girlfriend answered, who was the passenger in the car, and she said he’d been shot.”

Later, speaking to protesters, Mrs. Wright attempted to curb any violence that might occur. “All of the violence, if it keeps going it’s going to be about violence. We need it to be about why my son was shot for no reason. We need to make sure it’s about him and not about smashing police cars, because that’s not going to bring my son back.”

Within hours of the fatal shooting, an estimated two-hundred had gathered at the scene of the incident. Protesters confronted officers in riot gear. Some protesters broke the windshields of squad vehicles, forcing police to respond with “non-lethal rounds” to disperse the crowd.

About five hundred protesters gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department later that night. The state National Guard was mobilized, and a curfew was put into effect through Monday morning.

Several businesses in the Shingle Creek Crossing shopping mall, were reported looted and destroyed, including a Wal-Mart, a Foot Locker, a T Mobile, and a New York men’s clothing retailer.

The Mayor’s statement.

“Our community is filled with grief following today’s officer involved shooting of Duante Wright, a twenty-year old young man,” Mayor Mike Elliot said. “Our hearts are with his family, and with all those in our community impacted by this tragedy. While we wait additional information from the BCA who is leading the investigation, we continue to ask that members of our community gathering, do so so peacefully, amid our calls for transparency and accountability.”

Governor Tim Walz said he was “closely monitoring the situation” and “praying for Duante Wright’s family as our state mourns the life of another black man taken by law enforcement.”

The A.C.L.U. also released a statement, part of which reads:

“ACLU of Minnesota calls for an immediate, transparent and independent investigation by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police or the BCA, and for quick release of any body-cam footage. We call for the naming of all officers and agencies involved. The ACLU-MN has deep concerns that police here appear to have used dangling air fresheners as an excuse for making a pretextual stop, something police do all too often to target black people.”

Sources: The Week, Star Tribune, Reuters.


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