MINNEAPOLIS – Daunte Wright, the young Black man shot by an officer during a traffic stop in suburban Minneapolis, was not “just some kid with an air freshener,” but a “prince” whose life ended too soon at the hands of police, the Rev. Al Sharpton said Thursday during an emotional funeral.
Hundreds of people wearing COVID-19 masks packed into Shiloh Temple International Ministries to remember Wright, a 20-year-old father of one who was shot by a white police officer on April 11 in the small city of Brooklyn Center. The funeral was held just two days after former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the death of George Floyd and amid a national reckoning on racism and policing.
“The absence of justice is the absence of peace,” Sharpton said. “You can’t tell us to shut up and suffer. We must speak up when there is an injustice.”
The civil rights leader's thundering eulogy included a stinging rebuke of the possibility that Wright was pulled over for having air fresheners dangling from his mirror. Wright’s mother has said her son called her after he was stopped and told her that was the reason. Police said it was for expired registration.
“We come today as the air fresheners for Minnesota,” Sharpton said, vowing changes in federal law. “We’re trying to get the stench of police brutality out of the atmosphere. We’re trying to get the stench of racism out of the atmosphere. We’re trying to get the stench of racial profiling out of the atmosphere.
“We come to Minnesota as air fresheners because your air is too odorous for us to breathe," he said." We can’t breathe in your stinking air no more!”
Brooklyn Center's police chief said it appeared from body camera video that the officer who shot Wright used her pistol when she meant to use her Taser as Wright struggled with police. The 26-year veteran, Kim Potter, is charged with second-degree manslaughter. Both she and the chief resigned after the shooting.
Ben Crump, attorney for both the Floyd and Wright families, has called for more serious charges against Potter and said Wright’s son “is going to get old enough to watch that video of how his father was slain so unnecessarily. A misdemeanor, a misdemeanor.”