After the massive BLM protests and riots that started after George Floyd’s death on May 25th, 2020, many thought the worst was over, but more events continued to occur. On April 11th, 2021 only ten miles away from the courthouse where Dereck Chauvin’s trial took place, Daunte Wright was fatally shot during a traffic stop at Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. Hours after Wright’s death a vigil was held near the scene of the shooting and eventually even with Wright’s mother asking those to be peaceful the protests turned violent.
Protests moved across the country as outrage surged, Washington and Oregon saw protests centered in Seattle and Portland that turned violent. The cause of the violence is harder to determine with many having differing opinions. The protests in both cities saw broken windows and graffiti on buildings, but Portland saw protestors lighting a dumpster on fire and fireworks thrown at police with ammunition being fired in return. The unrest was predicted by authorities, but the anger protestors felt and expressed was what caught their attention.
Authorities in Portland said that they had anticipated the protests from earlier that day even having the time and place that they would be held at urging the protesters before the event to remain peaceful. Portland commissioners Carmen Rubio, Jo Ann Hardesty, Mingus Mapps, and Dan Ryan released a joint statement to the public on the issue of Wright’s death and the protests associated with it.
“We must condemn racial profiling and police violence just as strongly as we condemn indiscriminate property damage and the normalization of arson. We cannot and should not tolerate violence, and we cannot and should not continue to defer our dreams for a more equitable, inclusive, and just city, “ the press release said.
The police were prepared and ready to see the protestors even speaking out against the crime they saw of Daunte Wright’s murder, but the mayor of Portland was not pleased over the protests. Wheeler talked to the members of the city council and those who attended about the matter. He announced that Portland would enter a state of emergency in response to the protests then further dissuade protesters from continuing further.
Wheeler said, “Our community needs to resume their lives, people need to go back to work, employers need to be able to reopen.”
This comes with his outspoken support of the police tactics and the act of “kettling” protestors. Police surround and removed any exits from protestors. Then they sweep in to arrest protesters. Wheeler makes this statement while commending the BLM leaders and black leaders who opposed and spoke out against the violence.
With the turbulent times in the communities around us with the murder and lynching of black Americans, accompanied with protests, even riots. Those in the community speak out. Instagram stories sharing posts about the crimes and protests around the community, scheduling meets to wave signs in hopes of bringing awareness to the crimes, and voicing how they feel in classes especially after the word of Chauvin’s sentencing on the 20th of April.
“It’s a disgrace that something like that can happen. That officer should be fired. However, I doubt it was intentional and she will probably proclaim it was a taser till the end, so there’s no way of knowing whether that’s true, but either way, it is highly unprofessional, and clearly, the department needs to properly train their officers.” said Camas High School Senior Benjamin Lincoln.
The issues of these deaths like Lincoln touched on are how the officers involved are trained and the steps they take in the process of getting to the point where they decide to kill someone over other non-lethal methods. Stopping the protests before they happen means stopping the officers before they get to the point of killing someone and sentencing or getting them in the process of sentencing before it escalates. Taking those actions rather than putting them on leave or trying to make this an issue that is not will help prevent these protests from occurring in the first place.
What happened to Wright and what continues to happen to black Americans is a horrific stain on America and our justice system. Even further injustices are represented in the growing number of protests and riots. As a general society in America and our local community, we need to speak out on these injustices and work towards preventing them before they get to the point of another unjust murder.