Gun violence is an issue that’s been circulating in the media and in the lives of many individuals recently in the United States. In Colorado, ten people were killed in a mass shooting at a King Soopers in Boulder March 22.
The gun violence archive lists 143 cases of gun violence in 2021. These cases vary in impact, from injuries or death in individuals or multiple individuals.
Police officers have the ability to use their guns in extreme scenarios. Lately there has been public outrage in reaction to misconduct and misuse of weapons and force by police officers in the United States.
Another case of police misconduct and misuse of force is circling the media just as the Derek Chauvin trial comes to an end.
20-year-old Daunte Wright was shot by Kim Potter, a Minnesota police officer located in Brooklyn Center Sunday April 11. Wright was pronounced dead on scene. Potter claims that she intended to use her taser and accidentally used her gun. Potter is charged with second degree manslaughter in relation to the killing of Wright.
Police say that the shooting was an accident along with showing body cam footage of Potter yelling, “Taser,” over and over again before firing her gun. Potter has worked as a police officer for 26 years.
Kate Stahla, a senior journalism major at the University of Northern Colorado gave her opinion on the killing of Wright.
“I feel like this is horrifying and the murder of unarmed civilians should never happen in the first place. Daunte Wright’s killing and the subsequent curfews to prevent protests are an injustice. The fact that he was pulled over for an air freshener is ludicrous,” said Stahla. “I feel like the framing of the crime as ‘accidental,’ instead of negligent or even malicious does a disservice to everyone impacted by this situation.”
Wright was killed just 10 miles from the courthouse where the trial of Chavin is being held.
Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer has been found guilty with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in relation with the death of 46-year-old George Floyd.
Floyd’s death sparked an outrage in the public because of the brutality of his death. Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd gasped for breath and cried out for help.
Chauvin continued to hold his knee on Floyd’s neck for two minutes after Floyd stopped talking. Floyd died at the hospital later, but paramedics didn’t find a pulse on scene.
Two black men have been killed by police officers in Minnesota within less than a year of each other.
Police brutality and misuse of force isn’t centralized in Minnesota.
27-year-old Rayshard Brooks was killed by police in 2020, 41-year-old Daniel Prude was killed by police in 2020, Breonna Taylor was killed in her own home by three officers who were out of uniform. This list goes on.
Wright’s death is only a more recent example of police brutality on Black people in the United States.
“It’s very unlikely that a 26-year police veteran would mistake a taser for a gun that’s like twice as heavy,” said Nick Trask, senior journalism major at UNC. “I have also had air fresheners in my car and never been pulled over. That being the reason that he got pulled over shows that there was really something not normal about the stop. I think people are scared. When those things are happening all over America, it’s really hard to trust police as a whole.”
Because police brutality isn’t centralized to one specific place it can impact anyone in the United States.
This means that students at UNC can be impacted. This means that anyone can be scared, terrified or fear for their life when they get pulled over.
However, not everyone should be scared when they get pulled over. This is entirely an issue of race.
If police misconduct and misuse of force against Black individuals in America is continued to be looked over then there will be more death.
Racism is still very prevalent in the U.S. today.
Police officers not facing heavy repercussions for brutality against Black individuals in the U.S. is a main factor for the continuing perpetuation of racism and profiling that exists today.
If people in positions of power, such as police officers, that are supposed to protect and serve every single citizen of the United States can get away with killing Black individuals over and over again then we as individuals need to evaluate the systemic racism in our justice system and enact change.