Minneapolis, racism rears its ugly head again - GulfToday

Minneapolis, racism rears its ugly head again


Protesters rally outside Brooklyn Center Police Department a day after Daunte Wright was shot. Reuters

Racism is a hydra-headed monster which has gone unchecked. The conflict between the keepers of the law and people of colour in America is never-ending. The sorrow, hate and disgust over George Floyd’s death is still fresh in people’s minds. Now another provocative act has surfaced – in Minneapolis. Here a police officer has shot dead a young coloured man, dramatically escalating tensions in the US city.

A state of emergency has been declared in the city.

Twenty-year-old Daunte Wright was killed on Sunday when a police officer mistakenly used her gun instead of a taser during a confrontation at a traffic stop.

President Joe Biden urged calm on Monday, following a night where officers in riot gear clashed with demonstrators. The president said he watched the body camera footage.

“We do know that the anger pain and trauma amidst the black community is real,” Biden said from the Oval Office. But, he added, that “does not justify violence and looting.”

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon Gannon said at a news conference that the officer made a mistake, and he released the body camera footage less than 24 hours after the shooting.

Court records show Wright was being sought after failing to appear in court on charges that he fled from officers and possessed a gun without a permit during an encounter with Minneapolis police in June. Wright’s family hired civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represented the Floyd family in its $27 million settlement with the city of Minneapolis.

“This level of lethal force was entirely preventable and inhumane,” Crump said in a statement. “What will it take for law enforcement to stop killing people of colour?”

Speaking before the unrest on Sunday night, Wright’s mother urged protesters in Brooklyn Center, a city of about 30,000 people on the northwest border of Minneapolis, to stay peaceful and focused on the loss of her son.

Biden referred to her comments on Monday, saying, “We should listen to Daunte’s mom calling for peace and calm.” The president said he had not yet called the family but that his prayers were with them.

Shortly after the shooting, demonstrators began to gather, with some jumping atop police cars. Marchers also descended on the Brooklyn Center Police Department, where rocks and other objects were thrown at officers, authorities said.

About 20 businesses were broken into at the city’s Shingle Creek shopping center, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said at a news conference.

The incidents happened even as the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged in George Floyd’s death, continued on Monday. Floyd, a man of colour, died on May 25 after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against his neck. Prosecutors say Floyd was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds.

The tragedy is that the protectors of the law and the people are becoming a threat to the very people whose safety they should be ensuring.

Different sections of American society are plagued by the thought that the policemen can get away scot-free for their feckless behaviour. Trust in the police appears to be at a chronic low.

Depressingly, studies show that even when police officers undergo racial sensitivity and mental health training, it doesn’t make a difference in their behaviour.

In the Philadelphia Police Department, 72 officers were disciplined over racist and offensive social media posts. Three members of the Aurora Police Department were fired after recreating the scene of the death of Elijah McClain, a coloured man who died after an encounter with police officers.

The problem about racism is that it’s very covert, latent, hidden. It lurks in the shadows, ready to make a sudden appearance.

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