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: 591445

Reported Deaths: 7367
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1224421730
Ramsey51212875
Dakota45791452
Anoka41604438
Washington26834283
Stearns22196222
St. Louis17734303
Scott17244124
Wright16009139
Olmsted1322598
Sherburne1167187
Carver1047545
Clay814492
Rice8037107
Blue Earth749641
Crow Wing663189
Kandiyohi654283
Chisago596651
Otter Tail574078
Benton568297
Goodhue477272
Douglas466375
Mower464832
Winona453950
Itasca435556
McLeod422559
Isanti419664
Morrison418260
Nobles407648
Beltrami394459
Steele386715
Polk383568
Becker379751
Lyon360251
Carlton345054
Freeborn341529
Pine327822
Nicollet325643
Brown305040
Mille Lacs303253
Le Sueur290922
Todd281632
Cass271328
Meeker255740
Waseca235922
Martin230531
Roseau209019
Wabasha20513
Hubbard188341
Dodge18453
Renville179743
Redwood174037
Houston171616
Cottonwood164821
Fillmore155910
Wadena155922
Pennington153619
Chippewa152138
Faribault152119
Kanabec144326
Sibley143110
Aitkin134736
Watonwan13219
Rock128119
Jackson121712
Pipestone115426
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11006
Murray10619
Swift105218
Stevens90411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86616
Koochiching82715
Wilkin81112
Lake80919
Lac qui Parle75222
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5748
Mahnomen5469
Norman5399
Unassigned48993
Kittson48622
Red Lake3957
Traverse3695
Lake of the Woods3243
Cook1620

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 366827

Reported Deaths: 5937
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57596625
Linn20845335
Scott20025241
Black Hawk15803308
Woodbury15128228
Johnson1447483
Dubuque13368208
Dallas1117898
Pottawattamie11113168
Story1061248
Warren577088
Clinton555593
Cerro Gordo539789
Sioux514474
Webster512393
Marshall482975
Muscatine480799
Des Moines455766
Wapello4299122
Buena Vista424540
Jasper418872
Plymouth401180
Lee375755
Marion362575
Jones298957
Henry291637
Carroll285752
Bremer284360
Crawford266440
Boone264534
Benton256455
Washington254150
Dickinson248343
Mahaska230351
Jackson221742
Clay215525
Kossuth215364
Delaware209541
Tama209571
Winneshiek196834
Page192622
Buchanan191232
Cedar190023
Hardin185243
Fayette185041
Wright184637
Hamilton179849
Harrison179573
Clayton169456
Butler164934
Mills162322
Madison162219
Floyd160542
Cherokee158738
Lyon157941
Poweshiek154734
Allamakee151551
Iowa148724
Hancock147834
Winnebago142431
Cass138554
Calhoun138413
Grundy136333
Emmet134140
Jefferson132335
Shelby131037
Sac130319
Union128333
Louisa128049
Appanoose127949
Mitchell126342
Chickasaw124015
Guthrie121530
Franklin120021
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112723
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100124
Unassigned9710
Keokuk95831
Monroe95229
Ida90535
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis82924
Monona82830
Osceola78616
Greene77610
Lucas77323
Worth7478
Taylor65812
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Van Buren55818
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