The overlap in the lives of Daunte Wright and George Floyd

George Floyd and Daunte Wright never met but there’s a chilling overlap between the two men. They died within 11 miles of each other, Mr Floyd on the south side of Minneapolis and Mr Wright in Brooklyn Center to the north of the city. Their families now also share legal representation in attorney Ben Crump.

Other similarities between the two specific cases have also been noted, with both involving white police officers killing Black men with lethal force during stops for alleged low-level crime, in Mr Floyd’s case a fake $20 bill, and in Mr Wright’s a traffic stop. Both incidents were captured on video, and the two men were both unarmed.

Apart from both being parents who died after encounters with police while living in the Minneapolis area, it was also announced on Tuesday that Mr Floyd’s former girlfriend Courteney Ross taught Mr Wright in high school.

During a press conference standing beside Mr Floyd’s family and their attorney Ben Crump, Mr Wright’s aunt Naisha Wright said: “The craziest thing is to find out today that my family has connections to this man, to this family. His girlfriend was a teacher for my nephew. My nephew was a lovable young man. His smile, oh lord, the most beautiful smile.”

Announcing the decision to also represent the Wright family, Mr Crump said: “Daunte Wright is yet another young Black man killed at the hands of those who have sworn to protect and serve all of us – not just the whitest among us.”

“As Minneapolis and the rest of the country continue to deal with the tragic killing of George Floyd, now we must also mourn the loss of this young man and father,” Mr Crump added.

Mr Wright was shot and killed on Sunday 11 April by officer Kimberly Potter amid the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on 25 May 2020.

Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said Ms Potter meant to use a taser. She has been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. Both Ms Potter and Mr Gannon have left their jobs.

Ms Ross told The Washington Post that Mr Wright attended Edison High School while she was a dean there. She said he was a “silly boy, as goofy as can be,” and added that he “needed a lot of love”.

The last time Ms Ross saw Mr Wright was when she was walking through Brooklyn Center along with Mr Floyd and they witnessed Mr Wright being confronted by police during the summer of 2019. One year later, Mr Floyd was killed just miles away on the southern side of Minneapolis.

Less than a year after that, Mr Wright also died after an altercation with law enforcement.

Ms Ross said: “Students like Daunte needed more resources but they never got more resources.”

“Our system doesn’t serve kids like Daunte. And now I’m seeing, more than ever, this system I once believed in, we’re done doing what we need to be doing to protect Black life,” she added.

University of Texas history professor Peniel Joseph wrote for CNN that the connection between Mr Floyd and Mr Wright “illustrates how some African Americans remain, despite racial progress, as vulnerable to police violence now as they were during the heyday of the civil rights era”.

Mr Floyd’s younger brother Philonise Floyd said during the press conference on Tuesday that his family “will stand in support” with the family of Mr Wright.

He said: “The world is traumatised … Police officers are killing us, and we are being murdered at a rate I cannot imagine.

“We’re here and we will fight for justice for this family, just like we’re fighting for our brother.”

He added: “There’s a time for change and that time is now.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune gathered data on every death involving a police officer in the state of Minnesota going back more than two decades. Since the year 2000, 208 people have died after a “physical confrontation” with police.

Of those who died, 55 were black. At 26 per cent of the total number of deaths, black individuals are heavily overrepresented in these statistics as African Americans make up only seven per cent of the total population of Minnesota, according to the US Census Bureau.

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