The Minnesota National Guard was increasing its presence in the Minneapolis area on Monday after a local police officer shot and killed a black man during a traffic stop, triggering a night of protests and unrest.
The shooting of Daunte Wright, 20, in suburban Minneapolis on Sunday came as many residents of the metropolitan area were already on edge. The city is midway through the trial of the former police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, whose death sparked worldwide protests against racial injustice.
An officer shot Wright at about 2pm on Sunday on a street in Brooklyn Center, according to law enforcement and local officials. Brooklyn Center is about a 20-minute drive north from the downtown Minneapolis courthouse where Derek Chauvin is standing trial.
The Brooklyn Center Police Department said the shooting happened when officers, who had stopped Wright for a traffic violation, tried to take him into custody on an outstanding warrant.
Katie Wright, Daunte Wright’s mother, told a reporter for Minneapolis news station KARE 11 that her son called her as he was being pulled over.
“I heard the police officer say, put the phone down and get out of the car,” she said. “I heard scuffling, and I heard an officer say, ‘Daunte, don’t run’, and another officer say, ‘Daunte, put the phone down’, and hung it up. Like a minute later, I called and his girlfriend answered, [who] was the passenger in the car, and said that he’d been shot.”
The police department said Daunte had re-entered his vehicle, and an officer shot him. The car travelled several blocks before crashing into another vehicle.
After the shooting, about 100 “highly agitated” people gathered at the scene, said John Harrington, Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety. Law enforcement asked them to disperse, and they did.
A crowd of up to 200 people marched toward the Brooklyn Center Police Department later in the day, Harrington said. Some threw rocks and other objects at police.
Police responded with tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets, according to social media posts from journalists and activists at the scene. Mike Elliott, Brooklyn Center mayor, imposed a curfew that lifted at 6am on Monday.
A second crowd formed on Sunday night at Shingle Creek Crossing shopping centre, Harrington said. About 20 businesses were looted.
The Minnesota National Guard had about 500 troops deployed in the area on Sunday and was due to increase its presence on Monday, along with law enforcement.
Reclaim the Block, a Minneapolis coalition that wants to divert funding from police into “long-term alternatives”, on Monday morning retweeted Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a professor of African-American Studies at Princeton University, who wrote: “For anyone who thought the Chauvin trial was supposed to be some kind of indictment of the practice of policing . . . here is your daily reminder that the police will never not be racist, violent, deadly and corrupt. It is and has always been baked into the institution.”
Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the shooting. Harrington said early on Monday morning that it was “too early for us to make any real comment on [the shooting] other than BCA has been deployed”.
Elliott and Tim Walz, Minnesota governor, both extended words of sympathy to Wright’s family.
“My heart goes out to Dante’s family,” Elliott said in a video released about 2am on Monday. “We are going to make sure that everything is done in our power to ensure that justice is done.”