New York civil rights leaders mourn Daunte Wright at Brooklyn vigil

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Gwen Carr speaks on the death of Daunte Wright on April 22.
Photo by Dean Moses

Two days after a measure of justice was achieved in the murder of George Floyd, civil rights leaders in Brooklyn held a vigil Thursday to remember Daunte Wright, another victim of police brutality killed in Minnesota.

At the same time Wright was being laid to rest by his family in Minnesota following his death at the hands of police on April 11, the Brooklyn gatherers stood in solidarity at their vigil outside the Barclays Center — site of major Black Lives Matter protests following the May 2020 murder of Floyd by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted on criminal charges Tuesday. 

NYPD officers look upon Reverend Kirsten John Foy. Photo by Dean Moses

The message was clear to vigil attendees: one guilty verdict is little consolation after centuries of racist-inspired murder.

“We are not happy about Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict, you owed that! You don’t get credit for that! That is justice served, long overdue — America, you don’t get to cash that check. You don’t get to write a Derek Chauvin check to Black America to pay for our appeasement,” Reverend Kirsten John Foy said.

In the shadow of a quote from the late civil rights leader John Lewis, which was projected over the famous sports arena, fellow civil rights leaders gathered to reaffirm that while the guilty verdict is a step on the road to racial equality, it will conclusively mean nothing if Daunte Wright lays in his coffin and does not receive justice.

Gwen Carr knows this all too well. Her son, Eric Garner, was killed at the hands of the NYPD in Staten Island while selling loose cigarettes in 2014. Unlike Chauvin, the officer responsible for Garner’s death was not indicted.

Carr wants further accountability when it comes to deaths at the hands of law enforcement.

Reverend Kirsten John Foy speaks outside the Barclay Center. Photo by Dean Moses

“The George Floyd verdict—good! But we need more verdicts, we need more accountability, and we are going to demand more accountability. This cannot be swept under the rug. Just like we did when George Floyd died, we have to keep up the momentum. We have a lot of work to do, people, and I am not only talking to the Black and Browns—I am talking to all nations and nationalities,” Carr said.

Former officer Kim Potter shot and killed Wright after she said she mistook her firearm for a Taser, and vigil attendees called for her to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. They say it is important that Chauvin does not become the exception but the standard.

Participants also demanded that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act be passed by Congres and signed by the president. This act would potentially ban, on a federal level, excessive force techniques used by police, such as chokeholds and carotid holds, no-knock warrants in drug cases, and end qualified immunity. 

The bill is also set to prohibit profiling and increase training on discrimination, as well as require the use of body cameras, national misconduct police registry, and more.  In addition, the bill would outline and invest in better police training and community programs.

Reverend Kevin McCall says “No justice, no peace.” Photo by Dean Moses

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act has been passed in the House; it is still pending Senate approval. A total of 10 Republican votes are needed for this act to pass to avoid a filibuster, but more than a year after its introduction, no action has been taken on it.

After Chauvin’s guilty verdict, President Biden called for the bill’s passage.

Linking arms and sending prayers. Photo by Dean Moses