On April 11, 2021, Daunte Wright, a twenty year old Black man was shot and killed by police in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just ten miles from where George Floyd was killed by police officer Derek Chauvin last May. Chief of police, Tim Gannon, explained what supposedly happened by stating that Mr. Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation and then officers realized there was a warrant for his arrest. Gannon states that there was a struggle with the officers because Mr. Wright got back into his car. Then one officer, Kim Porter, shouted “taser” and shot at Mr. Wright as the car pulled away. Gannon added, “It is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.” Just 20 years old and a father to a nearly two-year-old son, Daunte Wright died at the scene.
Communities near and far throughout the country have responded by demanding justice for Daunte Wright. Mr. Wright’s mother asked protestors to be peaceful and recalled the last conversation she had with her son. Mr. Wright called her when he was pulled over and stated that the police were pulling him over for his air fresheners. Then the call ended. On April 22, family, friends, and people from all over the country gathered to mourn the death of Mr. Wright. Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy and stated, “Well, we came to bury the prince of Brooklyn Center.” Mr. Wright was loved and revered by his community and friends; many are devastated and outraged by his murder.
The Police Department asserts that Officer Kim Porter, the officer who shot and killed Mr. Wright, mistook her gun for her taser, but this excuse has been questioned thoroughly. However, there are numerous physical differences between a taser and a gun, differences that a police officer should most certainly be aware of. For example, tasers are typically bright neon colors, weigh much less than a pistol, and the grip size is much shorter on a taser than a pistol. Also, according to the Brooklyn Center Police Department manual, officers wear their guns on their dominant side and tasers on the opposite to avoid confusing the two. Officers are also supposed to aim for the lower body when using a taser and should avoid the head, neck, chest and groin. Mr. Wright died of a gunshot wound to the chest. To argue against all of this reveals one thing: people are making up excuses to deny the fact that Porter acted on the basis of race. Porter saw a Black man in a vehicle and immediately recognized him as a threat simply because he was Black. If you cannot realize this, then you are blind to the reality around you, a reality actively hurting people of color.
Disgusted does not even describe how we feel about this situation. This is unfortunately another extremely disturbing example of the systemic racism in the policing of this country. Nothing constitutes or justifies killing a man in such a way. Nothing should, and yet his race was enough reason for that police officer. He was a father, son, friend, partner and his life was taken away because of systems that oppress people of color. No one deserves to live like this. No one deserves to be oppressed, to suffer, or be killed for what they look like. It is horrifying and heartbreaking. It is time to consider how this isn’t an isolated event, how racism runs deep in our country's core. This situation is rooted in racism, built off policing that preys on people of color.
One of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy is anti-racism, and being a school founded by them we have a responsibility to implement their core values in every aspect of our lives. Neutrality isn’t merciful in times of oppression and racism. When you hear or see something racist, do not just shrug it off. We have to remember that these are human lives being taken away by disgusting systems of supremacy and power. That is against everything we are supposed to stand for at Bay View. We are all called to be compassionate human beings, and in order to live up to that calling we have to start addressing our own privileges and biases that prevent us from treating all with equal respect and kindness. We can’t wait any longer for change and we will not settle for racism to brew in our country.
The Sister of Mercy’s Critical Concerns Op-Ed thumbnail was designed by Katie Nelson ‘22.