Hundreds of mourners, wearing face masks and weeping, filled a Minneapolis church on Thursday for the funeral of Daunte Wright, a black man whose shooting by police after a traffic stop has sparked fresh concerns over the way officers treat people of color.
The 20-year-old shot by a white police officer in a Minneapolis suburb on 11 April is laid to rest two days after a Minneapolis jury found a white police officer guilty of murdering George Floyd last May. This killing triggered worldwide protests for racial justice. While the conviction brought a measure of satisfaction to people calling for an end to brutality and racism in policing, Mr. Wright’s death served as a reminder of the daily risks facing black people during encounters with police.
On Thursday, Mr. Wright lay in a white casket at the center of the church, covered in red roses.
His family members sat near the front of the church, wiping tears from their faces as an organist played gospel music. My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars. When he walked in the room, he lit up the room,” said Katie Wright, Mr. Wright’s mother, who fought through sobs as she spoke from the podium.
Other family members, cousins, and siblings remembered him as “the life of the party” and a father who lived for his beloved two-year-old son, Daunte Jr.
His aunt, Naisha Wright, wrote a tribute on a prayer card handed out to attendees, recalling how she playfully nicknamed Mr. Wright “lemon head” and how he would smile.
Mr. Wright was a talented basketball player, and he particularly loved 4 July, when he would celebrate with his family by lighting fireworks, the prayer card said.
Among the Shiloh Temple International Ministries attendees, a church with a predominantly black congregation was Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, US Senator from Minnesota Amy Klobuchar, and US Representative Ilhan Omar. He represents the congressional district encompassing the congressional district Minneapolis and some of its suburbs. Mr. Floyd’s family was in attendance, as well as the loved ones of several other black Americans who were killed: the mother of Philando Castile, the family of Emmett Till, the boyfriend of Breonna Taylor.
Not above the law
The congregation clapped and shouted in enthusiasm at a eulogy given by the Reverend Al Sharpton and opening statements by attorney Ben Crump. He represents Mr. Wright’s family after representing many other families of slain black Americans. Mr. Crump called on US Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, given by the US House of Representatives to hold police officers accountable for misconduct.
Both Reverend Sharpton and Mr. Crump expressed hope that Mr. Wright’s case would get “justice” in the court of law, receiving standing ovations. “God has turned the page in the state of Minnesota, and we are never going back,” Reverend Sharpton said, referring to the milestone verdict delivered against former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of murdering George Floyd this week.