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US police not above the law: Sharpton at Daunte Wright funeral

Hundreds of mourners, including relatives of George Floyd and top Minnesota politicians, attended the funeral on Thursday of Daunte Wright, a young Black man killed by a police officer in Minneapolis.

Katie Wright (C) at the funeral of her son, Daunte Wright, in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Katie Wright (C) at the funeral of her son, Daunte Wright, in Minneapolis, Minnesota

“The time has come for police to understand they’re not above the law,” veteran civil rights leader Al Sharpton said in his eulogy.

Wright, 20, was shot during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on April 11 by a police officer who apparently confused her handgun for her Taser.

Kim Potter, who is white, resigned from the police force after the shooting and has been charged with second-degree manslaughter.

Wright’s shooting took place during the already tense atmosphere surrounding the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted by a jury on Tuesday of Floyd’s murder.

The 66-year-old Sharpton peppered his eulogy for Wright with tributes to Floyd and other African Americans who have been killed by police.

“God has turned the page in the state of Minnesota and we’re never going back no more,” he said in reference to Chauvin’s conviction.

Chauvin was seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during the May 25, 2020 arrest of the 46-year-old African-American man.

The video of Floyd’s death sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the United States and around the world.

Chauvin was convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter and is to be sentenced in June.

– ‘Stop being violent’ –

Sharpton said the time has come to “tell policemen to stop being violent.”

“Trained people don’t confuse guns from Tasers,” he said. “Trained people don’t put knees on people’s necks for nine minutes and 29 seconds.”

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota attended the funeral at Shiloh Temple church in Minneapolis and presented Wright’s parents with a US flag that flew over the US Capitol in honor of their son.

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz read a proclamation condemning “systemic racism” and the need to “enact change.”

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar said the deaths of Floyd, Wright and other Black Americans pointed to the urgency of passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The sweeping legislation bans choke holds, combats racial profiling and restricts immunity that shields police from civil lawsuits.

It passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives but will need the backing of 10 Republicans in the Senate. None have signed on.

Wright’s funeral came a day after hundreds of mourners attended a public viewing of his open casket, which was covered with red roses.

The US Justice Department announced Wednesday that it was conducting a probe into the Minneapolis police to determine whether the department systematically uses excessive force. AFP