Justice for Daunte Wright

Dear America,

Here we go again. We’re writing another statement about another Black person killed by police. When will the names Ayanna Stanley Jones, Tamir Rice, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and, now, Daunte Wright, matter? When will the criminal legal system tire of killing Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) with impunity? When will we — everyday citizens, corporations, nonprofits, and philanthropy — say enough is enough and really mean it?

Once again, we are writing a statement about the killing of another Black person in America. The recent killing of Daunte Wright in Minnesota is a continuum of state-sanctioned violence that never seems to end. We are feeling a range of emotions that span from rage to hopelessness and words cannot suffice at a moment like this. Words are not enough. We must take action.

At Root & Rebound, we share in feeling completely devastated and somewhat helpless at seeing these repeated murders of Black men and women, and BIPOC people. We are especially shaken by the reminder that our Black neighbors, colleagues, and friends wake up every day to this repeated trauma of simply living and existing in America, knowing that it is not safe to merely drive a car with an air freshener without risking their lives.

Driving while Black is not an exaggeration, it’s an experience — a daily experience for the Black citizens in this country. Philando Castile was stopped nearly 50 times by the police before he was killed. We don’t know how many times Daunte Wright was stopped before his murder. We do know that Black people are 20% more likely to be stopped by police than their white peers and nearly 3 times more likely to be killed by police than their white peers. The criminal legal system is responsible for these data points. The criminal legal system was constructed as a tool of oppression that disproportionately criminalizes, polices, and kills BIPOC. The decision to stop Black people 20% more than their white counterparts is entrenched in police training and practices everyday, with deadly results.

If we are to change this, we cannot continue to look away from the history of policing in this country. We cannot look away from the connection between slave patrols and modern day policing. If we never look at it and refuse to reckon with the history of racial injustice that has been around since 1619, it will never change.

America, you have become an expert at looking away. You look away because it is too uncomfortable to admit that Daunte Wright’s blood is on your hands. So here we are again.

Until we completely transform the system, it will repeat itself. We must transform.

TO OUR COMMUNITY —

We can say that we are deeply sorry for the repeated traumatic reality that our BIPOC citizens and residents have to wake up to. We can also say that we want to do something to change this, but words are not enough. We must act. As an organization, we have the ability to be part of the change that needs to happen.

Today, we see organizations, government actors, etc. putting out statements. Our question always is: How can we do more? How can we be a part of making this nightmare end? We are a small organization of only 32 people, but we do have collective power in the world. That is why we exist — to dismantle the system in the ways that we can. As an organization, this requires self-examination, thinking long and hard about what we as attorneys and advocates need to be doing more of to fulfill our mission to provide justice and resources to people harmed by mass incarceration — which includes mass policing and criminalization. How can we better target this issue and the needs of families and communities on the ground who are suffering at the hands of police violence? We are thinking through these issues and hope you will think through them with us. If you have ideas about ways we can step up our support and advocacy, please email info@rootandrebound.org.

This is not a time for statements. This is a time for action. At Root & Rebound, we are committed to acting. We will release our action plan in the coming weeks and hope you will join us in reflecting on how we can do more as individuals, as organizations, and as a collective movement for justice for all.

With great care and love,

Root & Rebound

Restoring power & resources to the communities most harmed by mass incarceration through legal advocacy, public education, policy reform & litigation.