MINNEAPOLIS – Katie Wright leaned over and kissed the body of her son lying in the coffin before straightening up to turn around and back up, tears streaming down her face.
On one side stood Reverend Jesse Jackson. On the other, the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Between them was 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a black man who was gunned down by police in nearby Brooklyn Center on April 11. Wright’s death sparked a new wave of anger in a community still reeling from the death of George Floyd last year.
Wright’s death came during the murder trial of the now-dismissed white policeman who knelt around Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. A jury acknowledged Tuesday that former murder officer Derek Chauvin and the black community of Minneapolis celebrated Tuesday night with a noisy rally outside the courthouse. On Wednesday afternoon, they renewed their mourning for Wright.
“It’s sad man, especially right after the trial verdicts, that we have to jump right into another moment like this,” said Trahern Pollard of the Minneapolis-based anti-violence group We Push For Peace. “The reality is that there is a 20 year old kid lying in that coffin right now and it could have been avoided altogether.”
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The officer accused of killing Wright, Kim Potter, was a 26-year-old veteran who police officials said accidentally pulled out his handgun instead of a Taser. She and the police chief resigned almost immediately. Potter, who is white, has been charged with second degree manslaughter and is due in court on Thursday, the same day as Wright’s funeral.
Wright’s family did not speak to reporters during the viewing.
Sharpton is about to deliver the eulogy at the funeral. Speaking to mourners on Wednesday, Sharpton vowed that he and other national civil rights leaders would seek justice for Wright’s family, including his 2-year-old son. He also said Wright’s parents Katie and Aubrey celebrated their wedding anniversary on Wednesday.
“You have brought hatred into their family and we are going to drive it out and do them justice,” he said. “We must give them a marriage gift of righteousness.”