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‘Aren’t our lives worth more?’: Daunte Wright mourned at Minneapolis funeral

The Guardian logo The Guardian 22/04/2021 Chris McGreal in Minneapolis
Benjamin Crump wearing a suit and tie: Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock

Two days after the streets of Minneapolis filled with people celebrating the conviction of a former police officer for murdering George Floyd, the city held a funeral on Thursday for Daunte Wright, another young Black man shot dead by police during a traffic stop.

The killing of Wright, 20, two weeks ago by a police officer who said she mistook her gun for a Taser shocked a city still reeling from Floyd’s death and anxiously watching the trial of his killer, Derek Chauvin. The shooting of Wright, the father of a one year-old boy, in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center sparked days of protests and led to dozens of arrests.

Benjamin Crump standing in front of a piano: Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the Wright and the Floyd families, led the mourners in a chant of ‘Daunte Wright’s life mattered’ at the funeral. © Photograph: Chelsea Lauren/REX/Shutterstock Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the Wright and the Floyd families, led the mourners in a chant of ‘Daunte Wright’s life mattered’ at the funeral.

Related: ‘We don’t have the benefit of doubt’: the fear of driving while Black

Wright’s white coffin was covered in red roses as hundreds of mourners, including Representative Ilhan Omar, whose district includes Minneapolis, and Senator Amy Klobuchar, paid respects at Shiloh Temple International Ministries.

The service began with gospel songs and prayers before Keyon Harrold, a renowned jazz trumpeter whose son was falsely accused by a white woman of stealing her phone in a New York hotel earlier this year, performed while an artist drew a likeness of Wright.

Benjamin Crump, the lawyer for the Wright and the Floyd families, led the mourners in a chant of “Daunte Wright’s life mattered”.

Crump turned to Minnesota’s attorney general, Keith Ellison, and said that he hoped the state would pursue “full justice”.

Ilhan Omar wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: Aubrey and Katie Wright are presented a flag by Ilhan Omar during the funeral. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian Aubrey and Katie Wright are presented a flag by Ilhan Omar during the funeral. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Floyd’s relatives were among the mourners at the funeral where the veteran civil rights leader the Rev Al Sharpton was expected to give a eulogy in which he planned to say that the fight for justice didn’t end with Chauvin’s conviction for murder.

“We lose George Floyd over an allegedly forged $20 bill and Daunte Wright over some expired [vehicle] tags. Aren’t our lives worth more than that?” he told the Associated Press before the service.

“We should not think that, because we won one battle with Chauvin, the war is over. Or that if we do not get justice for this case, that we will undo what we were able to do with George Floyd. This is round two, and we must win this round.”

In both cases, Crump questioned the rapid escalation of force by the police for relatively minor offences.

“Too often traffic stops end up as death sentences,” he said.

The police said Wright was stopped for an expired car registration, although he told his mother it was because there was an air freshener dangling from his rearview mirror, which is illegal in Minnesota. When the police attempted to arrest him on outstanding warrants, he tried to get back in his vehicle and leave. But he was unarmed and evidently not a threat.

a man standing in front of a crowd: A person raises their fist during the funeral for Daunte Wright. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images © Provided by The Guardian A person raises their fist during the funeral for Daunte Wright. Photograph: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Kim Potter, an officer with 26 years experience, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter over Wright’s death. Potter and Brooklyn Center’s police chief resigned after the shooting.

Crump told the funeral that the excessive use of force remains the same. What has changed, he said, is the technology that allows people to film it.

On Wednesday, the public paid respects to Wright who lay in an open casket dressed in a jean jacket decorated with red and green buttons, and blanketed with red roses.

Minnesota’s governor, Tim Walz, issued a proclamation calling for a statewide two minutes of silence at noon to remember Wright.

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