At Daunte Wright’s funeral, Minneapolis mourns ‘Prince of Brooklyn Center’

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MINNEAPOLIS – Two days after the streets of Minneapolis were filled with people celebrating a police officer’s conviction for the murder of George Floyd, the city returned Thursday to a period of mourning for another black man killed by a police officer.

Politicians, religious leaders and relatives of others killed by police, including Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend and families of Philando Castile and Oscar Grant, have been crowded into a church for Daunte Wright’s funeral. Many had come from across the country to pay their respects to Mr. Wright, the 20-year-old man who was shot dead by an officer in suburban Minneapolis at the Brooklyn Center last week during a traffic stop.

Also present were relatives of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 and whose cousin recently met Philonise Floyd, one of Mr. Floyd’s brothers. After Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt at Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was convicted of murder on Tuesday, Philonise Floyd said he had both thought of Mr. Wright and Emmett Till, whom he called the first George Floyd.

On Thursday, Reverend Al Sharpton delivered Mr. Wright’s eulogy to a grieving family and town. He said he was told Minneapolis had not seen such a large funeral procession since Prince, the musician born and raised in Minneapolis, died in 2016.

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“Well, we’ve come to bury the Prince of Brooklyn Center,” Mr. Sharpton said, standing in front of a white coffin covered in red roses. “We come from all over the country because you hurt one of our princes.”

Mr Wright was killed during a traffic stop for an expired recording, in which a police officer also noted that the air freshener hanging from his rearview mirror was an additional offense. His death in the Chauvin trial sparked a wave of protests at the Brooklyn Center that lasted more than a week.

“You thought he was just a kid with an air freshener,” Mr. Sharpton said. “He was a prince, and all of Minneapolis stopped today to honor the Prince of Brooklyn Center.”

Through tears, Mr. Wright’s parents remembered him in service as a loving son, a classy clown, and a new father, whose child, Daunte Jr., did not even 2 years.

“He always said he was eager to make his son proud,” said Katie Wright, Mr. Wright’s mother. “Junior was the joy of his life, and he lived for him every day, and now he won’t be able to see him.”

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Governor Tim Walz and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota each offered their condolences to the Wright family during the service, and Representative Ilhan Omar presented her parents with a flag she said flew over the U.S. Capitol in her memory.

Ben Crump, an attorney for the Mr. Wright and Mr. Floyd families, said the families would “walk hand in hand” until Mr. Wright’s family got justice, and he called Keith Ellison, the Minnesota attorney general whose office prosecuted Mr. Chauvin and who was seated at the front of the church, to “enable us to obtain full justice in court”.

Kimberly Potter, the white officer who shot Mr. Wright, resigned from the police service and was charged with second degree manslaughter. Authorities said she thought she was using her Taser when she shot Mr. Wright in the chest, and body camera video showed she yelled “Taser” several times before firing it. his weapon. Mr Wright had walked away from the police officers and got back into his car after attempting to arrest him on a warrant for missing a court appearance on a firearms charge.

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Thursday’s funeral service strongly recalled that the toll of police violence has lasted during and since Mr. Chauvin’s trial. On average, about three people a day were killed by police during the trial, and minutes before the verdict was read, an officer in Columbus, Ohio, shot dead a teenage girl rushing towards another girl. with a knife, sparking more protests.

Outside the Shiloh Temple international ministries ahead of Thursday’s funeral, Diamond Hurd, a friend of Mr. Wright’s, smiled as she stood in the sun and recalled how Mr. Wright asked for her number phone call to his mother when they first met at a gas station years ago.

“He was a great father to his son and he loved his son so much,” she says.

Across the street, Brianna Patterson and a friend watched people walk into the church and think about their own children and how to protect them from the police.

“Every time my 22-year-old goes out I want to keep him home,” Ms. Patterson said. “It’s been happening ever since I twinkled in my mom’s eyes. This has been happening since my mom is flicker.

Eric Killelea contributed reporting from Minneapolis.