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Daunte Wright’s funeral marks another emotional day for a city reeling from police violence

Mourners gathered in Minneapolis on Thursday to honor the life of Daunte Wright, the Black motorist fatally shot by a Minnesota police officer this month during an arrest attempt.

In his eulogy for Wright, the Rev. Al Sharpton referred to “a resting place … a martyr’s bench,” where the 20-year-old could take his seat next to other Black men killed in encounters with police.

“Take your seat, Daunte. Tell George Floyd who you are. Take your seat, Daunte. Shake hands with Philando Castile. Take your seat next to Oscar Grant,” the civil rights leader said. “Because there’s a special place in heaven for those that shed innocent blood, because God will use you to straighten out the world.”

“The world will never be the same,” he added, “because we are going to stand up for situations like this.”


The funeral marks another emotional day for a metro area scarred by several high-profile killings involving police. The service at Shiloh Temple International Ministries comes just two days after a former Minneapolis officer was found guilty of Floyd’s murder.

Daunte Wright’s death on April 11 in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center happened about 10 miles from where the trial in Floyd’s death was held this month. Wright’s killing sparked nights of protests in Brooklyn Center and reignited national conversations about policing and the use of force.

“I never imagined that I would be standing here,” Katie Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother, said during the funeral. “The roles should completely be reversed. My son should be burying me.”

‘Daunte Wright’s life mattered’

Wright was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and moved to Minneapolis at age 7, according to the obituary included in the funeral program. He attended Edison High School, where he excelled at sports and played basketball, the obituary said.

Wright was a “warm and loving person who would do anything for his family and friends,” it said. He loved the Fourth of July, when he would gather with his family and light fireworks.

Civil rights lawyer Benjamin Crump led the congregation in a call-and-response chant during the service, calling out, “Daunte Wright’s life mattered.”

“Our heart is broken with yours as we come to lay him to rest,” Crump told Wright’s parents. “But, most importantly, we celebrate his life, and we define his legacy once more: Daunte Wright’s life mattered.”

In attendance Thursday were members of George Floyd’s family, whom Crump acknowledged, saying, “This time last year, they were being introduced to the world because they became part of a fraternity that no family wants to be a part of.”

In an interview with CNN, Wright’s aunt, Naisha Wright, called her late nephew “a shining light.”

“He was loved. He was a man in the making. He was somebody. He was human. He died; we can’t understand why,” she said. “Why? Why did he have to die the way that he died?”

“Today, I have to go lay my nephew to rest on my mother’s 60th birthday,” said Wright, who spoke alongside Crump. “My brother and my sister should not have to go through this. They should not have to go through this, nor should any other mother, father or anyone have to go through an unjust murder like what happened.”

Another gun said to be mistaken for a Taser

Police initially said the Brooklyn Center officer who shot Wright appeared to mistake her gun for her Taser when she fired. She had pulled Wright over for an expired tag, and then tried to arrest him on an outstanding warrant; Wright was shot as he resisted and got back into his vehicle, authorities said.

The officer, Kim Potter, resigned and was arrested and charged last week with second-degree manslaughter.

Wright’s family has called for Potter to be held accountable.

“I felt anger, I felt sadness, I felt loss and I felt helpless,” Wright’s mother told reporters last Friday. “I don’t want to feel helpless. I need my son to have justice.”

The family hopes to see “some type of justice,” Naisha Wright said Thursday, as Daunte Wright joins the list of Black men killed by US police, including Grant. He was fatally shot in 2009 at age 22 by an officer in Oakland, California, who said he intended to draw and fire his Taser rather than his gun.

Justice “would be a bittersweet moment, of course, because again, today we close that casket on my nephew,” Naisha Wright said. “This is the last day that we can ever touch, we can ever see him. We can give something where other families don’t have to go through this.”

The Wright family in recent days has drawn strength from relatives of Floyd.

“Even what they’ve been dealing with, like literally, they put aside what they are dealing with to see how my family is doing. And it takes a lot of strength. It takes a lot of strength to be able to do that. They’ve seen over and over and over and over their brother, their uncle being murdered. Murdered! In front of millions,” she said.

“And that family, they see us, and they give us hugs, you know, just — yes, encouragement to keep going because that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to keep fighting.”

In delivering Wright’s eulogy, Sharpton reprised a role he played at Floyd’s funeral nearly 11 months ago in the same city.

To mark the start of Wright’s funeral, Gov. Tim Walz issued a proclamation calling for two minutes of silence at noon CT in his honor.

“We know that this tragedy is connected to the deep, systemic racism in our society that Black people in Minnesota and across the country face every single day,” the proclamation by Walz reads. “While nothing can bring Daunte Wright back to his loved ones, we must continue to work to enact real, meaningful change at the local, state, and national levels to fight systemic racism so that every person in Minnesota — Black, Indigenous, Brown, or White — can be safe and thrive.”

Wright’s killing is the latest in a string of deaths of Black men during police encounters in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the past five years, including the shooting of Castile in Falcon Heights in 2016 and the death of Floyd in May.

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