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Community groups call for police accountability bills in wake of Daunte Wright death

Family members of Daunte Wright, Philando Castile, Jamar Clark and many more people killed by police spoke to the public and called for reform.

MINNEAPOLIS — Several community organizations held a joint press conference Friday to show support for the family of Daunte Wright.

The Black 20-year-old was shot and killed by a white Brooklyn Center police officer during a traffic stop Sunday.

Officer Kim Potter has been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter in the shooting. Former Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who resigned the same day as Potter, told the public he believed Potter meant to use her Taser instead of her gun.

Friday at noon, the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) joined Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence to respond to Wright's death and "the trauma families are facing at this moment."

They are demanding that the other involved officers be fired and prosecuted, and calling on lawmakers to pass Philando Castile's omnibus bill and other police accountability bills.

RELATED: Minnesota clergy show support for protesters seeking justice for Daunte Wright

Wright's death prompted several days in a row of protests outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

The high-profile police killing comes near the end of the trial of Derek Chauvin, another former police officer in the Minneapolis area charged with murder in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.

“We are demanding justice for Daunte and we are demanding justice for all stolen lives,” said Toshira Garraway, the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence. “We will not be separated and isolated, because these are not isolated murders. There are families that led up to Daunte Wright as well as George Floyd. Our families have been out here for years fighting for justice for our loved ones.”

Daunte Wright’s mother, Katie, said she does not ever believe she will get justice.
“Second-degree manslaughter is not OK,” she said. “I’m not ok with that. That’s not right. She murdered my son.”

Wright said she watched former officer Kim Potter’s first court appearance, and saw her wave into the camera to indicate she was present.

“That made my heart break 10 times more into a million pieces,” she said.

The mother of Daunte Wright's son also held a press conference with her family and their attorney Friday, joining calls for Potter to face more serious charges. They also demanded reform to prevent other families from losing loved ones at the hands of police.

"I'm just really hurt for my son because he doesn't have his father now, and it's kind of stressful to me because I really don't want to do this by myself," said Chyna Whitaker, the mother of Daunte Wright, Jr. 

At the press conference led by community organizers earlier in the day, Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, spoke about her son's shooting death at the hands of former officer Jeronimo Yanez in 2016. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter.

"Again here we are," Castile said. "When are these people going to stop? I tell you why they're not. Nobody is being held accountable."

Tiffany Robertson, the sister of Jamar Clark, also spoke to the public. Clark was shot and killed by Minneapolis police officers in 2015. He was 24 years old.

“A lot of the things that we demanded back then have fallen on deaf ears,” she said. “Police investigating their own selves is not working, and it’s got to stop.”

Robertson said they want to see a first-degree murder charge for Potter.

“We should not be here, too many stolen lives, too many people are grieving and going through it, and it’s not fair," she said.

RELATED: Daunte Wright demonstration continued Thursday, most protesters gone before midnight

CAIR-MN executive director Jaylani Hussein compared the COVID-19 pandemic to what he called a pandemic of systemic racism in the U.S.

With COVID, Hussein said, "We went from talking about sympathies to talking about solutions."

"What about the oldest injustice system in America?" he asked.

Hussein demanded guilty verdicts for Derek Chauvin and the other three former officers charged in George Floyd's death.

"But if you believe that justice is served inside the courthouse and not outside the courthouse, what are we going to tell Daunte Wrights' mother?" he asked. "We haven't fixed this problem."

Hussein called on the public to pursue solutions to systemic racism like they have pursued a vaccine for the coronavirus.

"Get uncomfortable, white people," he said.

RELATED: 'There's never going to be justice for us': Daunte Wright's mother speaks out after Brooklyn Center officer charged

A man who said he was shot in the eye by a rubber bullet during protests over George Floyd's death also spoke to at the news conference, calling for an end to qualified immunity for police officers.

Angela Rose Myers, president of the Minneapolis NAACP, called on lawmakers to pass legislation and enact new policy on police reform.

"All week, all month, all year, all of my life I've been hearing excuses," she said.

State Rep. John Thompson said he knows he will be addressing the public like this again before the year is over.

"I'm not a psychic, I'm just a Black man in this state," he said.