The shooting of Donut Wright and the meaning of George Floyd’s death


George Floyd Square, Minneapolis intersection where Matt FloydLast May, a mural appears that says “You changed the world, George.” In the eleven months since Floyd’s agonizing death, captured on video, we have seen changes ranging from mercenary corporations’ endorsement of the phrase “black lives matter” to personal accounts of the role of race in American society as well as fundamental legislation and policy changes related to the police. But as for Floyd’s death, New York City probably wasn’t Opening disciplinary records More than eighty thousand police officers earlier this year. The biggest question surrounding this set of changes was whether they would translate into a reduced likelihood of black deaths during routine interactions with law enforcement. In Minneapolis, a city that is already on the edge of an abyss because the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer accused of killing Floyd, is now in its third week there, the answer to that question, at least from the point of view of the hundreds of people who gathered outside Brooklyn Police Station over the past two nights, no .

Protesters in Brooklyn Center climb over two police cars that were serving as roadblocks on Sunday.Photo by Joanie Schiffer

On Sunday, a twenty-year-old named Don Wright was stopped near the intersection of 63rd and Lee Avenues in the Brooklyn Center, an inner suburb of Minneapolis. Reasons for the stop are disputed: Wright’s mother, Katie, said at a rally Sunday evening that Daunte called her when he was stopped and said it was because there was an air freshener hanging from a rear-view mirror (which is banned in Minnesota). On Monday, the police department reported a problem with his registration cards. (On Tuesday, Benjamin Cramp, an attorney who now represents the Wright family, indicated a backlog associated with the pandemic in processing license plate paperwork.) A young woman sat in the front passenger seat. During the hiatus, the police reportedly found that there was a court warrant against Wright in two misdemeanors – related to a gun possession charge – issued after he missed a court date. What is indisputable is that Kim Potter, a veteran in the police force for twenty-six years, shouted “Taser!” Wright also struggled with an officer who was trying to get him out of his car, but she was actually holding a pistol instead of a Taser, and she fired a single bullet. (The police department later said they pulled the gun by mistake.) Wright sped off before losing consciousness and crashing several blocks away. He died at the scene of the accident. The young woman was treated in the car for non-life-threatening injuries in the hospital. Officer Potter resigned on Tuesday, and so did Tim Gannon, the city’s chief of police.

Aubrey Wright, Dawn’s father, at a Sunday rally.Photo by Joanie Schiffer

On Sunday, at the parade, Joan Schaeffer, a local photographer who has highlighted the links between Floyd and Wright, indicated that Wright called his mother on the phone when officers stopped him, and that Floyd called his deceased mother as he was dying himself. The meaning was implied that dealing with the police had become so risky that adult men would seek the help of their mothers, on earth or in the hereafter.

A family member holds Don Wright Jr., who will turn 2 years old in July, at a demonstration on Sunday.Photo by Joanie Schiffer

Among the different points of view in the Twin Cities in relation to The Chauvin TrialAnd the police and the significance of everything that happened last spring and summer after Floyd’s death, there appears to be one conclusion that residents share across race, class, and social boundaries: that failure to convict Derek Chauvin will lead to yet another explosion. Of violence in the region. On Sunday night, those expectations were turned upside down, when it became clear that more violence did not stop at Chauvin’s acquittal.

About four hundred people, most of them black, gathered to protest Wright’s death in front of the Humboldt Street Police Station, in the Brooklyn Center. About sixty officers stood in formation outside the building in riot gear. About 11 eveningSome people in the crowd started throwing bricks, stones and garbage at the officers, who responded with tear gas. But the winds turned, and the gas exploded from the demonstration and headed back towards the police station. The crowd that started to disperse realized it, and rushed forward. More stones were thrown, followed by grenades and more tear gas, in a cycle that was repeated until the police began firing rubber bullets into the crowd.

Minnesota soldiers wearing riot gear observe a demonstration outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department headquarters on Monday.Photo by Joanie Schiffer

One of the men told me, “They couldn’t even wait for the trial to finish killing another person.” Wright’s death wasn’t the only accusation of easy ideas of change. A few days ago, a video of Karon Nazario, a black and Latin second lieutenant in the US Army Medical Corps, appeared, and appears to be stopped by police officers in Windsor, Virginia, last December. (There were no registration plates on the new SUV that Nazario was driving, but temporary plates were taped inside the rear window.) Nazario, who placed his hands outside the window, to indicate that he had no weapon, told the officers, who had pulled out their rifles, and that he wasHonestly, afraid to get out of the car. In response, Nazario, who was in uniform, was peppered with pepper and taken out of his car. (One of the officers involved, Joe Gutierrez, was fired on Sunday.) Despite all the anxiety about Chauvin’s trial, it almost became a noise in a wave. Events seemed to be a more accurate gauge of where matters stood in matters of race and police.

On Monday, the Twin Cities region imposed a curfew starting at 7 a.m. evening To 6 A.m Wright’s candlelight vigil, which was to be held on the 7th eveningPaid for an hour, so it wouldn’t clash with it. Hundreds gathered at 63 and me, and many were holding electric votive candles, because the cold rain was falling all evening. A shrine of florists was set up at the foot of the street, where Wright died. The Twin Cities Relief Initiative, which provides food and services to those in need – which started as a group The twin cities stand together, Founded after Floyd’s death, to feed protesters and local families – set a table and served free sausages and bottled water. This gathering dispersed shortly after the curfew went into effect, but a portion of it a more militant youth met again at the Humboldt Street station home, as clashes with police erupted again about an hour later. While this was happening, Cramp, who now represents both the Wrights and Floyds, has been maneuvering to get grieving families in touch. that An emotional press conference With members of the two families – and others, including Emmett Till – they were detained outside the Hennepin County Government Center, Tuesday afternoon. Katie Wright, wrapped in a blanket but shivering in 40-degree weather and snowy snows, stared at the ground. At one point, Floyd’s Floyd, George’s brother, bent over and wrapped his arm around her, but the connections between their stories were already secured in the public’s minds: They represented two parts in a serialized American tragedy that no one would ever want to see except set to be restarted for the foreseeable future.

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