United States: desperate vigil for young black man killed by police

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Despair reigns Monday night during a vigil in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, at the crossroads where Daunte Wright, the last African-American to date killed by the police, died the day before, in the middle of the George Floyd murder trial.

• Read also: Minneapolis under high tension

“Being a person of color is tiring,” Butchy Austin, 37, a sales employee turned activist since the death in Minneapolis of George Floyd, also African-American, on May 25, after long minutes immobilized in Minneapolis, is tiring. the knee of a white policeman. The case had sparked months of protests and riots across the country denouncing racism and police brutality.

“We want to know that we can be safe,” insists Butchy Austin, who helped transport a memorial sculpture of a clenched fist, from the site where George Floyd was killed to the scene of this new tragedy.

“It is a systemic problem and we must fight for a complete overhaul of the system in order to achieve equality for all.”

Hundreds of people participate in the vigil around the sculpture, before the start of the curfew imposed to stop the night demonstrations and looting.

“I came to offer my condolences to the family in a respectful and peaceful manner,” says Mabel Fall, a nurse at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We do not want any violence that can obliterate the pain of the family,” she stresses. “We do not yet know all the facts, but what we do know is that there is still one dead.”

Daunte Wright, 20, was shot dead by a policewoman who mistook her weapon for a Taser during a traffic stop, according to police and the officer’s video-camera recording of the tragedy.

Anger in front of the police station

“This kind of death is nothing new (…), but many people did not believe in the way in which the police treat blacks,” observes a white woman, Luann Yerks, a 68-year-old pensioner who has crossed the whole city by car to participate in the vigil.

“Most of the country is realizing this since it is all on video now,” she adds. “These deaths are so traumatizing Minneapolis and, of course, the black community.”

Not far from there, in front of the Brooklyn Center police station, anger reigns among dozens of protesters gathered for the second night in a row. The accidental cause invoked for the death of the young man is not enough to appease him.

In the rain, before being dispersed by the police with tear gas, they brandish their signs and chant slogans despite the entry into force of the curfew, taunting the police through the newly installed fence.

“Imprison all the racist killer cops,” “Am I next” or “No justice, no peace,” read the signs.

For Jaylani Hussein, local representative of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, it is the country’s police culture that must change.

“Police see themselves as great people who do great things, but when something happens it’s always ‘just a bad person’,” he says. “This is what is happening at the trial of Derek Chauvin”, accused of the murder of George Floyd and currently on trial in Minneapolis.

Mr. Hussein accuses the authorities of using the trial and death of Daunte Wright to “disproportionately activate” the security crackdown throughout the city.

“It was already planned before the trial and now they have the opportunity to institute the curfew,” he says. “It is very important for the community to mourn their dead, but they are denied the space to do so.”