Heavily armed members of a Minnesota militia group stood guard outside a church on Wednesday, where mourners gathered to view the body of Daunte Wright.
Wright’s mother Katie, accompanied by Reverend Al Sharpton, stroked her son’s hair as he lay in the open casket. Wright called her moments before he was shot and killed, asking for advice on how to handle the situation.
Wright, a 20-year-old black man, was shot and killed by a white police officer, Kimberly Potter, on April 11 during a traffic stop when she allegedly mistook her gun for a Taser.
Katie Wright, the mother of Daunte Wright, strokes his hair as Rev Al Sharpton looks on
A member of the Minnesota Freedom Fighters militia group stands guard on Wednesday
Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed by a white police officer on April 11 in Brooklyn Center
For a week demonstrators took to the streets around the Brooklyn Center police department, clashing with officers as night fell. On Friday more than 130 people were arrested and in the early hours of Sunday two members of the National Guard, patrolling the area, were lightly wounded in a drive-by shooting.
Wright’s funeral will be held on Thursday, with Sharpton delivering the eulogy – as he did for Floyd.
On the eve of the funeral, the Minnesota Freedom Fighters – recognizable by their yellow patches and their assault weapons – stood guard outside the Shiloh Temple International Ministries, where Wright’s visitation was held.
The group was formed to provide security in Minneapolis’ north side neighborhoods during unrest following the death of Floyd last year.
They are not shy about casting a forceful image – the group’s Facebook page features members posing with assault-style weapons and describes itself as an ‘elite security unit’. They do not say how many members they have.
Crowds gathered on April 11, hours after Daunte Wright was shot and killed
Tributes at the site where Daunte Wright was shot and killed in Brooklyn Center
Wright’s casket is unloaded at the Shiloh Temple in northern Minneapolis on Wednesday
Reverend Jesse Jackson pays his respects, as Rev Al Sharpton (far left) looks on
Mourners wore t-shirts bearing the 20-year-old’s name, on the eve of his funeral
Katie Wright, mother of Daunte, is embraced as relatives and friends gathered to pay tribute
Wright on Wednesday lay in a white, open casket covered in red roses, with a large screen behind him showing videos and pictures of his family and friends.
He is survived by a two-year-old son.
‘It’s horrible. I feel sadness. I feel like my heart was tore out of my chest,’ said Kristie Bryant, his aunt, after viewing his casket.
‘I was really close to him when he was young,’ said Bryant, a 39-year-old resident of nearby St. Paul.
‘He loved basketball. He loved his son with all of his heart.’
Potter, who resigned from the police department after the incident, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Potter has not entered a plea and her lawyer, Earl Gray, has not commented about the case.
Police video of the shooting shows multiple officers attempting to arrest Wright for an outstanding warrant.
Kimberly Potter, a 26-year veteran of the force, has been charged with manslaughter
The video then shows Potter threatening to stun Wright with her Taser before firing her handgun, in what former police chief Tim Gannon, who also resigned after the shooting, said was an accident.
‘When you watch that video your conscience tells you it is the right thing to do to stand up for Daunte Wright, to speak up for Daunte Wright, and to fight for Daunte Wright,’ said Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing the Wright family, at the viewing.
Crump helped the Floyd family sue the city of Minneapolis, resulting in a $27 million settlement that he has called the largest pre-trial settlement of a wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. history.