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Bankole Thompson: Daunte Wright killing another sign of police bias


“How many more Black lives will be lost at the hands of police?” Motown legend Stevie Wonder asked on his personal Facebook page after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb gripped the nation. “This is why we need police reform. How does this happen? Black people in this country are dying at the hands of police. Anybody confused?”

Wright was killed Sunday during a traffic stop. His is the latest deadly incident of Black people being maimed or killed in encounters with White police officers. Kim Potter, the officer who pulled the trigger on Wright, has since resigned as well as the police chief, Tim Gannon. 

Both resignations in Brooklyn Center were swift but won't bring back Wright. He will be remembered as one more Black victim in a long list of those who did not deserve to die when questioned by cops. Like Philando Castile, Rayshard Brooks and others, Wright did not get the presumption of innocence.

That is exactly what Wonder highlighted in his Facebook post. He deconstructed how White officers seldom face justice in court when accused of killing Black people. If White people were randomly getting pulled over by police and getting shot the same way Wright and Castile were, there would be reform right away. 

If we are not willing to confront the deep-seated racial bias in policing, such unconstitutional practices will continue.

And we have to ask: Do Black lives really matter? How many more Black people have to be shot to death before the nation’s conscience is bothered? 

Now is the time for reforms, including ending qualified immunity for officers. 

“Even as a police chief, I am consumed with worry about my children when they are out at night,” Inkster Police Chief William Riley told me. “Yes, we know that there are always unforeseen dangers in everyday life. However, our biggest concern now is that they may encounter the wrong type of law enforcement officer.” 

“The recent police shootings of unarmed Black Americans over the past few years weigh heavily on our minds and souls as we think about the safety of our children,” Riley continued. “I would be lying if I did not say that this worrying did not have any effect on me. My body sometimes feel as though it is and has aged from this type of daily concern.” 

But it is not only his children that Riley is concerned about, but that of many other Black parents as well who have to keep telling their kids about how a routine traffic check could turn deadly for them. 

Thankfully, social media has become a way to document these examples of police misconduct that have no place in our democracy's law enforcement. 

The explosive video that surfaced this week from a Dec. 5 incident where Black army officer Caron Nazario was held at gunpoint, handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by officers in Virginia is the latest example of how police don’t give Black drivers any benefit of the doubt. It is hard to fathom that a White army officer would be subjected to this level of brutality in a traffic stop. 

“They said that all that police officers need is training, but this has gotten out of hand,” said Black Detroiter Ane Bomani, who is running for the City Council.

“These police officers in these small suburban cities need to be monitored more carefully because they have a tendency to overreact with Black people,” said Bomani. 

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which broadcasts at 11 a.m. weekdays on 910AM.