How we're processing the killing of another Black man by police in Minnesota

People in a large circle put their fists in the air.
Protesters put their fists in the air in solidarity with the family of Daunte Wright, who was killed nearby in a traffic stop by a Brooklyn Center police officer, in Brooklyn Center, Minn., on Sunday.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

Updated: 6:12 p.m.

Minnesotans were reliving the 2020 killing of George Floyd as the the trial of the former police officer charged in his death played out in a Minneapolis courtroom. Then, a police officer in Brooklyn Center shot and killed a Black man during a traffic stop.

Lisa Clemons was one of the first people to the scene of the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

She’s the founder and director of A Mothers Love Initiative, an organization of Black parents that supports families impacted by gun violence.

“We get called out on a lot of traumatic incidents that happened in our community,” Clemons said in an interview with MPR News host Angela Davis. “We get called out to be there for the family. … I don't really care who pulls the trigger or who takes the life. I'm really out there for the family” of the victim.

Clemons said she got a call from Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson on Sunday afternoon, asking her to come to the Brooklyn Center location where Wright was shot and killed by former police officer Kim Potter.

“So I said, ‘I'm on my way, is the mom there?’ And that was my first and only question to him,” Clemons said. “And when I got there, that's who I cared about, the family, the mom.”

Wright’s family was in shock, and asked for peace, Clemons said.

“The mom said, ‘I don't even want these chants that are happening right now,’” Clemons said. “I think she just wanted everything to focus on her son, who was still laying, you know, out there in the street. … I had to tune out all the other stuff that was rallying up, all the young people out there, I had to try to tune that out. But that was hard for me to watch.”

Alan, a listener from Minneapolis, called in to share how he and his family are feeling in the wake of Wright’s death.

“Me and my family are depressed. I mean, we can't know — we don't know — how much more of this we can take because every time we hear, this is almost like your nephew or your brother being slain. It's like, the authorities don't care, innocence or guilt, how severe or what crime you're committing,” Alan said.

“People feed off poor, not just Black folks, poor folks, but especially people of color. You know, we don't stand a chance when everybody's feeding off our bodies, like we are just roadkill … I cry almost every day. I try not to watch it. How much more can I can we take?”

Jamil Stamschror-Lott is CEO and co-founder of Creative Kuponya, a Minneapolis-based organization that provides mental health and wellness services for young people of color. He pointed out that living in Minnesota as a Black man is a drastically different experience than living in Minnesota as a white man. That’s why critiques of Wright’s attempt to get back in his vehicle when he was being arrested hurt to hear, Stamschror-Lott said.

“I cringe when I see these reports that say: ‘The greatest places to live: Plymouth, Minn.’ And it's like, yeah, for white folks,” he said. “But when you break down … the data, and you look at the disparities, black folks are struggling greatly. … And so we have this unspoken culture in Minnesota, and it's killing us.”

Guests:

  • Lisa Clemons is the founder and director of A Mothers Love Initiative, an organization of African American mothers and fathers that works to support families, including those that have experienced gun violence.

  • Jamil Stamschror-Lott is the CEO and co-founder of Minneapolis-based Creative Kuponya, an organization that provides mental health and wellness services through creative arts and culture.

  • Jim Bueermann is a retired police chief from California and the founder of the Future Policing Institute.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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