America is yet again dealing with the killing of an unarmed Black man at the hands of police and New Jerseyans are reacting.
On April 11, 20-year-old, unarmed Daunte Wright was fatally shot by white police officer Kimberly Potter in Brooklyn Center, Minn. during a traffic stop. Wright, who was with his girlfriend, was stopped for a violation when officers ran his name through the system. It was determined he had a warrant.
After officers ordered Wright out of the car and tried to arrest him, a struggle ensued. He got back into his vehicle and Potter threatened to tase him. She grabbed her gun and shot Wright one time. Officers tried to administer CPR to him before Wright died on the scene.
As a result of the shooting, Potter resigned from the force. She was later charged with second-degree manslaughter and faces 10 years in prison if convicted. Wright’s killing was followed by days of civil unrest in Brooklyn Center. The city is about 11 miles from Minneapolis where George Floyd was killed by police in 2020.
Law enforcement officials in Brooklyn Center said Potter picked up her gun instead of her Taser by mistake.
“Daunte Wright was shot and killed yesterday, just north of where George Floyd was suffocated less than a year ago,” said NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson. “Both were fathers, both were Black men, both died at the hands of police. Whether it be carelessness and negligence, or a blatant modern-day lynching, the result is the same. Another Black man has died at the hands of police.”
In a statement, New Jersey Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield said Wright’s killing was “heart-wrenching and “infuriating.” ” She is not accepting that the former officer involved made a mistake.
“That characterization isn’t fair to the vast majority of police officers who conduct themselves with poise and professionalism under great duress,” Stanfield said. “It’s also deeply insulting to Mr. Wright’s family and the black community. Losing a child is a mother’s worst nightmare, and that nightmare has been playing out far too often.”
In a statement posted on social media, the NAACP New Jersey State Conference said Wright’s death, the trial of Derek Chauvin and the recent pepper-spraying of a Black soldier by police in Virginia, major change needs to happen.
“During the trial of a cop who murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for over nine minutes, we now have unarmed Daunte Wright murdered by a cop, right after we learned about the army Lt. Caron Nazario who was emasculated, humiliated and pepper sprayed by cops back in December,” the affiliate said. “If these deplorable acts don’t outrage you, and lead to statements, demands etc. … we know where you stand, and know exactly how we’ll proceed going forward.”
In New Jersey, the People’s Organization for Progress (P.O.P.) is planning a protest march on Monday, April 19 in Newark. The demonstration is part of the group’s weekly “Justice Mondays” rallies. The rally will begin at 5 p.m. in front of the Federal Building (970 Broad Street).
On Saturday, April 17, several social justice organizations are coming together in Jersey City for the Black Power Rally. The rally is taking place at 4 p.m. at Berry Lane Park on Garfield Avenue and Woodward Street near the Garfield Avenue Hudson Bergen Light Rail station.