Videos Pile Pressure On US Police Over Racism, Killings

PORTLAND, OR – APRIL 12: A person lights candles at a vigil for Daunte Wright on April 12, 2021 in Portland, Oregon. Wright, a Black man whose car was stopped in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota on Sunday reportedly for an expired registration, and not far from where George Floyd was killed during an arrest in Minneapolis last May, was shot and killed by an officer who police say mistook her service revolver for a Taser. Nathan Howard/Getty Images/AFP
Nathan Howard / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

 

 

More shocking bodycam footage, more fatal shootings by officers, and a murder trial nearing its conclusion — public trust in the US police has seldom been more strained.

Video evidence showing apparent wrongful use of deadly force has been piling up, fueling a fierce debate on policing across the United States.

“I am a Black man, and I know from experience that the police just aren’t professional and the leadership they get isn’t right,” said Darnell Squire, 46, who sells T-shirts and baseball caps from a street stall in a Minneapolis suburb.

“They aren’t around to protect the community, or to make people feel safe, whatever they say — that has been clear since I was a child.

“I don’t trust promises from the government about things changing, and I don’t trust the system or the courts. For me, the problem starts at the top.”

In a court in Minneapolis, former officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for murder over the killing of George Floyd, with closing arguments next week before the jury delivers its verdict.

As the trial examined grueling video of Floyd dying while Chauvin knelt on his knee, outside the courtroom, fresh examples of police killings have stoked anger and protests.

An officer who stopped young Black man Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb last Sunday shot him dead in his car after mistaking her Taser for a gun — all caught on bodycam.

In another case, Chicago police on Thursday released graphic footage of an officer shooting dead 13-year-old Adam Toledo in a dark alley last month, apparently suspecting he had just dropped a gun.

– ‘This is a long fight’ –
“I will feel the same even if Chauvin is convicted — this is a long fight,” said Selena McKnight 46, a local activist in Minneapolis who regularly attends protests against police misconduct.

“Just look at the videos that come out every day. We will keep fighting. The trial is just one case, and this battle is not over until justice is always served.”

The images of Floyd, Wright, Toledo and others dying at the hands of police have been contrasted to officers dealing with aggressive white men.

On Wednesday, in a town outside Minneapolis, an officer was assaulted with a hammer and dragged at high-speed by a vehicle driven by a white, 61-year-old man.

The suspect, who is accused of attacking shop staff who asked him to wear a Covid-19 mask, rammed a police car and drove off with the officer hanging onto his car.

No shots were fired, and the man was later arrested.

“Was that man shot? No, of course not. That tells you all you need to know about police prejudice,” said McKnight.

“We might think that all this video footage can make a difference, but it just shows what we all know has been going on for a long time.”

Ahead of the Chauvin trial verdict, the United States is braced for potentially violent protests if he is acquitted of murder.

Downtown Minneapolis has been largely boarded up and deserted during the trial, with armed National Guard troops patrolling in armored vehicles.

On Friday night there were new protests in Brooklyn Center, the suburb where Wright was shot, with about 500 people gathering before police moved in to break it up.

Officers said some protesters came wielding shields and baseball bats, while glass bottles were thrown. About 100 people were arrested, public safety officials said.

There were also protests over the death of Toledo in Chicago, where several hundred turned out.

“I fear the police, not Covid-19,” said Minneapolis resident Tesfaye Habte, who was born in Ethiopia.

“If I am driving and I see them, I worry they will shoot me because of my color. It seems to have got worse in recent years in this city.

“With the protests, both sides are doing bad things.

“America is democracy, the constitution and free speech, but the police are very aggressive and inhuman. I follow this trial and I am worried.”

Police Shoot Another Black Man In US

Protestors shout “Don’t shoot” while kneeling and raising up their arms in front of a line of police officers at the Brooklyn Center Police Station during a protest after a police officer shot and killed a black man in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 11, 2021.
Kerem Yucel / AFP

 

A suburb of Minneapolis was under curfew early Monday after US police fatally shot a young Black man, sparking protests not far from where a former police officer was on trial for the murder of George Floyd.

Hundreds of people gathered outside the police station in Brooklyn Center, northwest of Minneapolis, with police later firing teargas and flash bangs to disperse the crowd, according to an AFP videojournalist.

By around midnight local time (0500 GMT), the National Guard was on the scene and Brooklyn Center mayor Mike Elliott imposed a curfew from 1 am Monday until 6 am.

“We want to make sure everyone is safe,” the mayor tweeted. “Please be safe and please go home.”

The mother of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, told a crowd earlier Sunday evening that he called her to say he had been pulled over by police, local media reported.

Katie Wright said she heard officers tell her son to put his phone down, and then one of the officers ended the call. Soon after, her son’s girlfriend told her he had been shot.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed to AFP it was “investigating an officer-involved shooting incident” in Brooklyn Center but declined to identify the victim.

According to a statement from the Brooklyn Center Police Department, officers pulled over a driver for a traffic violation. When they discovered he had an outstanding warrant, they tried to take him into custody.

He got back into his car, and one of the officers fired their weapon, striking the driver, who died at the scene.

A female passenger in the car suffered “non-life-threatening injuries” and was transported to a local hospital, said the statement, which did not identify the woman.

 

Police officers take cover as they clash with protesters after an officer shot and killed a black man in Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 11,2021. 
Kerem Yucel / AFP

 

Photos from the protest showed men stomping on the windshield of a police cruiser. Police fired rubber bullets to try to disperse the protesters, according to the Star Tribune.

After about an hour, the police presence eased, and the crowd lit candles and wrote messages such as “Justice for Daunte Wright” in chalk on the street.

But clashes broke out again soon after as another group of several hundred protesters gathered outside the Brooklyn Center Police Headquarters and were met with teargas and flashbangs.

Speaking at a press conference, John Harrington, the state’s commissioner of public safety, reported “rocks and other objects thrown at the police department.”

He added that officers were sent to the scene and the crowd had mostly dispersed.

About 20 businesses were looted at a local mall, he said.

Harrington said more National Guard troops would be moved into the area on Monday, to deal with potential unrest.

The shooting comes during the ongoing trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing charges of manslaughter and murder over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

Floyd’s killing sparked months of protests in the United States against racism and police brutality and attracted international outrage.

Mayor Elliott called the shooting “tragic”, while Minnesota governor Tim Walz said the state “mourns another life of a Black man taken by law enforcement.”

-AFP