We Seek Justice, We Seek Change, We See Repetition - The murder of Daunte Wright

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We Seek Justice, We Seek Change, We See Repetition - The murder of Daunte Wright

On April 11, 2021, Daunte Wright was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota — 10 miles from the courthouse where former police officer Derrick Chauvin was standing trial for the murder of George Floyd. George Floyd was murdered less than one year prior.  

Dion Johnson, 28 
Tony McDade, 38 
Calvin Horton Jr., 43 
David Macatee, 53 
Jamel Floyd, 35 
Kamal Flowers, 24 
Priscilla Slater, 38 
Rayshard Brooks, 27 
Maurice Abisdid-Wagner, 30 
Julian Lewis, 60 
Anthony McClain, 32 
Damian Daniels, 30 
Dijon Kizzee, 29 
Kurt Reinhold, 42 
Johnathan Price, 31 
Kevin Peterson Jr., 21 
Walter Wallace Jr., 27 
Casey Goodson Jr., 23 
Bennie Edwards, 60 
Vincent Belmonte, 18 
Robert Howard, 30 
Xzavier Hill, 18 
Patrick Warren, 52 
Jenoah Donald, 30 
Marvin Scott III, 26 
Dominique Williams, 32 
James Lionel Johnson, 38 
Daunte Wright, 20 
Matthew “Zadok” Williams, 35 

I’m willing to bet that you don’t recognize many of the names on this list. It is an incomplete list of Black people killed by law enforcement in the United States since the murder of George Floyd. I had intended to end with Daunte Wright until I realized that Matthew Williams was shot the very next day, halfway across the country in Dekalb, Georgia. 

For anyone with a beating heart, the world may seem very overwhelming right now. 

The world IS overwhelming right now. 

But, maybe, it always has been. 

As news coverage of Derrick Chauvin’s murder trial is interrupted by breaking news of a mass shooting, which is then interrupted by breaking news of two police officers threatening the safety of — and macing — active-duty Army lieutenant Caron Nazario (nephew of Eric Garner killed by police in 2014), which is then interrupted by breaking news of Daunte Wright’s murder, which is then interrupted by breaking news of another mass shooting, which is then interrupted by breaking news of another mass shooting…And another…And another — while we remain trapped in our houses, with our first glimmers of hope in over a year that we may reach a turning point in this life-altering global pandemic. And to top it off, I just gave you a list of 29 black people that have been murdered by police in less than a year.

Overwhelming, may in fact be an understatement. 

Perhaps paralyzing may also be an apt description. 

When we feel paralyzed by the gravitas of it all, there is a painful kind of hope that can be found in the collective action of people taking to the street in peaceful protest of this ghastly violence, that can lead you to believe that next time it won’t be the same. But after George Floyd’s murder led to unprecedented mass mobilization in 2020, it has happened the same way at least 29 more times. Leading us to last week and the murder of Daunte Wright. 

I don’t have anything new or poignant to say about how another Black man’s blood was unnecessarily shed in the streets by those who swore an oath to serve and protect their community. No new light to shed on a young dad’s life ending when it had barely just begun. Nothing that will bring a son back to his parents, or a father back to his son. A human being was killed, my words cannot change or soothe that pain. No one’s can. 

But in a system that has for too long lacked accountability for those in charge, I am truly astonished to say that as I write this Derrick Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd. I suppose this is the minimum we can offer the Black community, that their tormentors potentially begin to be held accountable.  

Accountability is not justice but is the first step on the path to justice.  

As we take the time and space to really assess what all of this means, I am personally left with one pervasive and lingering question…Is there really such a thing as justice when life is unjustly taken?

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