By Paige Fernandez
Daunte Wright should be alive today. Taking a step back to listen to the circumstances surrounding Daunte Wright’s killing hammers home the heartbreaking truth that we’ve known for so long — Black people living in America are subject to having their lives violently ripped away from them and the ones they love at the hands of our government for absolutely nothing.
Daunte Wright now joins a long list of Black people whose lives were snatched from them as they attempted to simply live — Breonna Taylor as she slept in her home, George Floyd outside a convenience store, Eric Garner outside of a neighborhood bodega, Botham Jean as he ate ice cream on his living room couch, Tamir Rice as he played in the park.
Reprehensible acts of police violence like this will be commonplace so long as police continue to serve their original purpose — to act as an occupying force and mechanism for social control in Black communities.
Police still exist to uphold white supremacy and have been empowered by laws and the courts to inject themselves into Black life for any reason, no matter how minor, even a dangling air freshener.
It is apparent there is no legal reform or departmental policy change that will alter this dichotomy and no amount of training that will prevent situations like this from happening.
Throwing more money at police departments has never resulted in an end to the killing of community members who police purport to serve, but in reality, just harm.
It is clear that the only way to end the scourge of police violence is to immediately divest from policing institutions that, from their inception, have been used to oppress Black people.
Instead, we must reinvest in Black and Brown communities that have for so long borne the brunt of these horrific acts of violence.
It is time to end the criminal enforcement of low-level offenses. You don’t reform police — you remove their responsibilities and reallocate taxpayer money into harm-reducing solutions. It is now far past time for tangible action to avoid killings like that of Daunte Wright.”
While we are waiting to learn more, the ACLU echoes the ACLU of Minnesota’s calls for an immediate, transparent, and independent investigation by an outside agency other than the Brooklyn Center Police or the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the quick release of any bodycam footage.
We also call for the naming of all officers and agencies involved.
Paige Fernandez is Policing Policy Advocate with ACLU Justice Division
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