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Daunte Wright's mother says she 'never imagined' she'd be standing there at his funeral

Katie and Aubrey Wright, parents of Daunte Wright, cry as the speak during funeral services of Daunte Wright at Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis, Thursday, April 22, 2021. AP image

The families of George Floyd and Philando Castile joined...

Posted: Apr 22, 2021 7:32 AM
Updated: Apr 22, 2021 7:30 PM

The families of George Floyd and Philando Castile joined mourners in Minneapolis on Thursday to bid farewell to Daunte Wright, a Black man whose death this month at the hands of a police officer prompted renewed cries for justice and accountability.

In his eulogy for Wright, whom he called the 'Prince of Brooklyn Center,' 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.

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. Wright's killing sparked nights of protests in Brooklyn Center and reignited 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.'

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. And he became a father in 2019, when his son, Daunte Wright Jr., was born.

'My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars,' Katie Wright said. 'When he walked in the room, he lit up the room. He was a brother, a jokester, he was loved by so many. He's going to be so missed.'

'Daunte Wright's life mattered'

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.'

The guilty verdict this week in the trial of Derek Chauvin loomed large at the funeral Thursday -- a focus of celebration as well as a source of hope that Wright's loved ones would see a similar outcome in his case.

'While this was a historic moment for our country, we cannot confuse accountability for justice,' Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said. 'Because true justice is not done as long as having expired tags means losing your life during a traffic stop,' she added, a reference to the stated reason police initially pulled Wright over.

The families of Castile, Grant, Jamar Clark and Emmett Till also were at the funeral, Crump said, along with Kenneth Walker, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by Louisville police as they executed a no-knock warrant last March.

Speakers called for systemic change, including Sharpton, who in delivering Wright's eulogy, reprised a role he played at Floyd's funeral nearly 11 months ago in the same city.

He specifically called for the passage of the George Floyd Policing Act, saying, 'We are going to make it against the law across this country to keep having funerals for our young princes ... God has turned the page in the state of Minnesota and we're never going back no more.'

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,' Wright's aunt, 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.'

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.

'It's too often that traffic stops end up as deadly sentences, a death sentence,' Crump said Thursday. 'We're going to have to make sure that Daunte Jr. knows that we stood up for his father.'

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 912370

Reported Deaths: 9506
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1780492023
Ramsey736781043
Dakota67355574
Anoka63852570
Washington40349356
Stearns33475276
St. Louis29443403
Scott25842181
Wright25830216
Olmsted22258128
Sherburne18919126
Carver1661066
Clay12033104
Blue Earth1144868
Rice11410138
Crow Wing11170122
Chisago992378
Kandiyohi9800106
Otter Tail9758127
Benton9018125
Beltrami816094
Goodhue805597
Douglas7849100
Itasca769597
Mower731249
McLeod710983
Winona708657
Isanti697883
Steele682731
Morrison671579
Becker627174
Polk599484
Freeborn559646
Carlton543474
Mille Lacs529474
Lyon527261
Nobles524754
Nicollet521160
Pine512642
Cass500553
Todd490743
Brown469757
Le Sueur457733
Meeker431457
Martin385843
Wabasha373610
Waseca372332
Dodge359811
Hubbard354749
Roseau315531
Fillmore304315
Wadena301740
Redwood281245
Houston270717
Renville268051
Faribault257032
Pennington251030
Sibley251017
Kanabec248136
Cottonwood229232
Aitkin221550
Chippewa219442
Pope206710
Watonwan197420
Yellow Medicine187723
Rock177428
Koochiching176023
Swift172622
Stevens167011
Jackson160816
Clearwater157520
Marshall153122
Murray151811
Pipestone149529
Lake132224
Lac qui Parle122125
Wilkin120616
Mahnomen105914
Norman10489
Grant101110
Big Stone9465
Lincoln8745
Kittson73023
Red Lake71310
Unassigned629124
Traverse6056
Lake of the Woods5255
Cook3070

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 523052

Reported Deaths: 7289
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Unassigned66470
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
Poweshiek237243
Madison234525
Harrison234379
Cass233466
Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
Hancock214639
Cherokee211347
Lyon206142
Appanoose205357
Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
Humboldt185130
Grundy183637
Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
Chickasaw178922
Emmet178246
Louisa176953
Sac171026
Guthrie168137
Montgomery161745
Clarke160829
Keokuk150839
Palo Alto150532
Howard146824
Monroe142739
Ida130141
Greene127517
Davis124625
Lucas124426
Monona122939
Worth12139
Pocahontas120724
Adair114337
Osceola104818
Decatur101913
Taylor98514
Fremont95913
Van Buren93222
Wayne84525
Ringgold76729
Audubon74917
Adams5748
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