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The Murder of Daunte Demetrius Wright Was No Accident

A closer look into why the police should be defunded

Daunte Demetrius Wright, yet another unarmed black man shot and killed by a police officer. On April 14th, 2021 former Brooklyn Center police officer Kimberly Potter had shot and killed Wright at a traffic light due to expired tags and a dangling air freshener.

The Brooklyn Center Police Department consists of 47 officers in which are mainly white and nearly all the officers are male. You can see this is very problematic with most of the city residents being people of color and mostly female. Furthermore, none of the officers live within the city limits. How can a department that claims to take the value of community seriously be so distant from the community?

In recent decades, Brooklyn Center has altered from a generally white, suburb area to what is now known as one of the most diverse cities in the State of Minnesota. However, the police force has not changed in any way. It is clear that there is a huge disconnection between the Brooklyn Center police and the community.

Now, with that being said, Daunte Wright is the sixth person to be killed by the Brooklyn Center Police since 2012, and the department has racked up seven misconduct payouts totaling up to $490,000 from the years 2007–2017 alone.

Protest in suburb Minneapolis on Sunday, April 18.

How did an officer with 26 years of experience mistake a gun for a taser? It is clear this isn’t an accident. In the past 20 years, 18 police shootings took place where officers had claimed they intended to use a taser. Again, there is a more extensive issue with police departments and policy if officers are “mistaking” guns for tasers.

The issue is deeper than just reform or method of training. Potter along with many other officers have had the proper training although are intentionally choosing not to use it when it comes to African Americans. When comparing white citizens being taken into custody, to African American citizens, there is an obvious trend. How is it that black citizens showing no sign of threat are murdered, but white, heavily armed men are arrested civilly, with respect? Is the color of their skin alone a threat? A police system that is built off of internalized racism should not be able to have the power to decide who lives and who dies. The lives of citizens are being put in the hands of police who in actuality, aren’t even stopping crimes but causing more harm afterwards. The police should be defunded, billions of dollars are being spent on the police while other departments such as social work, housing, and educational funding are being cut year after year. If cities put more funding towards the well-being of their constituents and more specifically the youth rather than throwing money at the police, there is a better chance at decreasing crime rates.

Data from the Census Bureau — the ethnic and racial breakdown of police officers in the US in 2019

We need to take a further look into what it means to be qualified to be a police officer and how to better protect the community. Racial inequity has been coursing through the veins of America since slavery and it has carried on today. We have seen it with George Floyd, we have seen it with Breonna Taylor, we have seen it with Tamir Rice and many more. These officers are trained to react in a certain way where chokeholds against African Americans are permissible. Police misconduct has become far too common. White police officers make up 67% of the officers across the US and most of these officers are put into mostly black neighborhoods where they then neglect them. And when the black community speaks out about the unjust system, they are silenced. Yet another reason why the police should be defunded, as police you take a law enforcement oath of honor in which the oath underscores, “the importance of treating all individuals with dignity and respect and ensuring the preservation of human life.” We have to ask ourselves, are the police that are meant to protect and serve this country really treating everyone, regardless of race, gender, religion, or any other social background with dignity? Are the police that are meant to “preserve human life” really doing their job, or just abusing their position in power?

The killing of Daunte Demetrius Wright should not be framed as just a mere accident. Policing is violent, and the system is unjust. Every time a victim is killed by police, not only is it ending their life, but it is altering the lives of every black person in this country. In a country that preaches, “liberty and justice for all,” America has failed the black community drastically.

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