Demonstrators return to Detroit streets to demand justice for Daunte Wright

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Detroit — About 200 people gathered in Clark Park on the city's southwest side Saturday to protest against what they say is the latest example of an ongoing onslaught against Black citizens by White police officers.

Saturday's rally followed a week of demonstrations in Brooklyn Center, Minn., where on Sunday, White former police officer Kim Potter fatally shot 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was Black.

Jay Bass, an organizer with Detroit Will Breathe, speaks about the death of Daunte Wright.

Potter reportedly mistook her pistol for her Taser and fired a single shot after body-worn camera shows Wright struggling with the officers who were trying to arrest him. Potter has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

"There's a lot of emotions right now," said Sammie Lewis, a member of Detroit Will Breathe, which, along with the Palestinian Youth Movement, Cosecha Detroit and WWN Detroit, organized Saturday's demonstration.

"I'm so angry, and I don't know what to do with that anger," Lewis said. "It's just inside me, bubbling up.

"How many times is this does this have to happen?" Lewis added. "I'm tired of the police killing us and upholding a system of White supremacy."

Police say Wright was pulled over for expired tags, but they moved to arrest him after learning he had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court. He had been charged with fleeing officers, and also allegedly possessed a gun without a permit during the June encounter with Minneapolis police.

People gathered and held signs in protest of the death of Daunte Wright - a Black man killed in Minnesota during a traffic stop - at a rally at Clark Park in Detroit on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

The shaky body camera footage shows officers trying to subdue Wright before Potter, a 26-year veteran, is seen pulling her service pistol and is heard repeatedly yelling “Taser!” She pulls the trigger and then says, “Holy (expletive), I shot him.”

Detroit resident Peter Blakner said there's only one way to stop future incidents: "We need to get people together to defund the police toward abolition," he said. "We really have to get together and figure out how to deal with the police."

Robin Toewe said Saturday's protest was her first in Detroit, after moving from Chicago.

"I work for a nonprofit that deals with racial justice issues," she said. "I asked myself, 'what can I as a White person do to help?' I just want to make a difference."

Civil rights attorney Bill Goodman, who represents Detroit Will Breathe in a federal lawsuit against the city that claims Detroit officers used excessive force on protesters last year, attended Saturday's rally as a Legal Observer.

Tristan Taylor, an organizer with Detroit Will Breathe, speaks about the death of Daunte Wright.

A lawsuit filed in federal court last week by five Legal Observers claims Detroit officers assaulted them during demonstrations in May and August.

"In general, we should all be concerned about the fact that Detroit police have systemically undermined the rights of those who are trying to exercise the legal right to protest," Goodman said.

The Associated Press contributed.

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Twitter: @GeorgeHunter_DN