Family, friends, spectators gather to mourn Daunte Wright, the 'Prince of Brooklyn Center'
Wright was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minnesota on April 11
Benjamin Crump, civil rights lawyer, and lawyer for the family of Daunte Wright, asked the hundreds of family, friends, politicians and spectators at a Minneapolis church to honour the 20-year-old shot by police by standing up and repeating the four words: Daunte Wright's life mattered.
Delivering Wright's eulogy, as he did almost a year ago for George Floyd, civil rights leader Al Sharpton referred to Wright as the "Prince of Brooklyn Center" — the Minneapolis suburb Wright was from, and ultimately where he died.
But it was Katie Wright, Daunte Wright's mother, who stood in front of the white casket draped in roses, where her son's body lay inside, who said she never imagined this situation, that the roles should be reversed.
"My son should be burying me," she said in tears.
That was the range of messages heard at Wright's funeral, which was a combination of emotional reflections from family members of the the man they loved and calls for justice over the way he was killed.
The Shiloh Temple International Ministries was packed. People wore masks but sat side by side to pay tribute and mourn. The wall supported video screens showing pictures of Wright throughout the years, including some with his young son, Daunte Jr.
Funeral held near intersection where George Floyd died
Wright's funeral was held at a Minneapolis church, about a 14-minute drive from the intersection where George Floyd was killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin last May. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death.
For many members of the Black community in and around Minneapolis, the shadow cast by Wright's funeral is a sobering reminder that Chauvin's guilty verdicts were a temporary reprieve from the injustice they say they suffer at the hands of the city's police.
Wright's death during a traffic stop sparked protests outside the city's police station, with some demonstrators hurling objects at officers who have responded at times with gas and rubber bullets before clearing the scene with a riot line.
Brooklyn Center police said they had pulled Wright over because his vehicle registration had expired and found he had an outstanding warrant. Footage from a police body-worn camera released after the shooting showed Wright slipping out of an officer's grasp as he tried to handcuff him and get him back into his car. Another officer is then heard saying, "I'll Tase you. Taser! Taser! Taser!" before shooting Wright.
The officer, Kim Potter, who said she had intended to fire her Taser, not her gun, resigned from the force and has been charged with second-degree manslaughter in connection with Wright's death.
Crump, in his "plea for justice," referred to Potter, and to Daunte's mother and father and asked them if Potter saw their child like she saw her own.
If she had, he said, "then I do not think she would have ever reached for a Taser, much less a gun."
Sharpton said someone had commented to him that they hadn't seen such a funeral procession since the death of the pop musician Prince.
"Well we came to bury the prince of Brooklyn Center," Sharpton said.
But he drew attention to the police, urging them to train their officers: "Train people. Don't confuse guns from Tasers. Train people. Don't put knees on people's necks for nine minutes and 29 seconds."
'The air fresheners for Minnesota'
Sharpton's eulogy included a stinging rebuke of the possibility that Wright was pulled over for having air fresheners dangling from his mirror. Wright's mother has said that her son called her after he was stopped and told her that was why he had been pulled over.
Police say it was for expired registration.
"We come today as the air fresheners for Minnesota," Sharpton said, vowing that changes in federal law were coming. "We're trying to get the stench of police brutality out of the atmosphere. We're trying to get the stench of racism out of the atmosphere. We're trying to get the stench of racial profiling out of the atmosphere.
"We come to Minnesota as air fresheners because your air is too odorous for us to breathe," he said. "We can't breathe in your stinking air no more!"
But the most emotional moments of the funeral came from Wright's family.
WATCH | Daunte Wright's funeral brings calls for police reform:
His mother, Katie Wright, said she had sat up until 3:30 a.m. scared, thinking about what she would say about her son.
She described him as someone who had a smile "worth a million dollars," that "lit up the room."
He was loved as a brother, a jokester, loved by so many, she said.
She spoke about her son becoming a father of his own, that his son Daunte Jr, now two, brought so much life to her son's life.
"He lived for him every single day. And now he's not going to be able to see him."
Wright's six siblings also appeared at the podium , but only two spoke. His brother Dallas also spoke of his brother's smile and how much he will miss him.
And his sister Monica said she "didn't really get enough time with him."
"I wish I got enough. I didn't tell him I love him before he left. He didn't deserve this. He was so loved by everybody. He had love for everybody."
With files from The Associated Press