FINALLY! A Reflection on the Verdict and Our Path Forward.

Daunte Wright sign
Photo was taken at George Floyd Square at the time the Chauvin verdict was announced.

 

On Thursday April 22nd, Katie and Aubrey Wright memorialized their 20-year old son, Daunte Demetrius Wright, at a public funeral being held here in North Minneapolis at Shiloh Temple, just down the street from the Northside Achievement Zone on West Broadway. Viewed through the lens of America’s cherished culture of whiteness, Daunte had the misfortune of being born half-Black and thereby joining a never-ending list of unarmed Black men and women who have died at the hands of police. He lived in a system built on structural racism that devalued his worth and undermined his God-given potential, not unlike George Floyd, whose life and potential were killed long before Chauvin pressed his knee to his neck. As George Floyd’s brother so aptly stated, “his skin was his sin.”

The violence we are experiencing at the hands of too many police officers is an American creation rooted in all our systems that includes education, the environment, housing, health, courts, jobs, and wealth creation. If we are going to dismantle anything, let it be the root, which is the culture of whiteness and the systems that hold it up. For example, state-sanctioned killing of unarmed Black folks goes back 400 years when our policing system began in 1704 with Slave patrols created to preserve slavery by chasing down runaways and preventing slave revolts. Consequently, policing, like America, is rooted in systemic racism, but we should not scapegoat every police officer by moving to abolish the police any more than we would abolish educators, judges, or health care professionals who are also a part of systems rooted in racism. There are officers committed to racial justice such as Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Inspector Charlie Adams, and Lt. Mark Klukow, to name a few, who are focusing on completely reimagining our current system including other community supports that don’t involve policing.

Below is an incomplete list of UNARMED Black women and men who have been killed by police and security guards between 2021 and 1968. It is in no way an exhaustive list. The list below was created by researcher and academician, Renee Ater, which includes the person’s date of birth and the day they were killed while unarmed. The highlighted names are those killed in Minnesota. I am grateful that we are one of a few states to finally find a white officer guilty of murdering an unarmed Black person. FINALLY! FINALLY! THANK GOD, FINALLY!

 

I believe the recent verdict brought some much-needed healing to our hearts and some much-needed healing to our past. May we march forward shoulder to shoulder embracing the hard work that lies ahead. We can and will transform our country, but only together. Let’s start with policing but not stop there. The memory of those who have been killed by racism must inflame our hearts and fuel our actions for a more just nation—FINALLY!

For our children, for our future, and justice for George and Daunte,

Sondra Samuels
President & CEO
Northside Achievement Zone