Demonstrators gather outside LAPD headquarters to honor Daunte Wright
Demonstrators placed candles and flowers outside LAPD headquarters Wednesday evening to honor Daunte Wright, who was shot by police in Minnesota on Sunday. LAPD officers attempted to quell protests, at times by threatening to use force. (Justin Jung/Daily Bruin senior staff)
More than 100 people gathered outside the LAPD headquarters Wednesday to protest the fatal Minnesota police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man.
Vigil observers set down candles and flowers to commemorate Wright. Speakers at the gathering denounced police brutality and called to abolish the police.
Wright was killed by a Brooklyn Center Police Department police officer outside Minneapolis on Sunday after he was pulled over for a traffic violation. The chief of the BCPD said the police officer intended to employ her Taser but fired her gun instead. The police officer who shot Wright has since resigned and has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for Wright’s death.
Jamie Carter, who is Black, said he was protesting police brutality perpetrated against Black people.
“I’m tired of (Black people) being shot in the street,” he said. “I have a bachelor’s degree. I work for the Department of Justice. I’m a legal researcher, but none of that’s going to insulate me from being murdered.”
After 8:50 p.m., demonstrators began marching on Spring Street around the LAPD headquarters, blocking traffic. Some knocked over police barricades surrounding the LAPD headquarters. As they marched, some protesters knocked down traffic signs and one demonstrator threw a traffic cone at oncoming traffic.
When the demonstrators reached the back entrance of the headquarters, some knocked over more police barricades and shouted at police officers guarding the entrance. In response, police pointed less-lethal weapons at the protesters, who continued to shout at the officers before withdrawing and continuing their march down the street.
As they reached the front of the building, protesters climbed over police barricades and advanced toward the police line guarding the front entrance. As the distance between the two groups narrowed, police officers ran forward and surrounded the crowd of protesters, forcing them to withdraw down 1st Street. Police at one point did not allow a credentialed Daily Bruin reporter to exit past them.
The police then steered the crowd down 1st Street toward Broadway while threatening to use their weapons and arrest protesters if they continued to throw objects. At least one officer fired their less-lethal weapon directly at the crowd.
Police presence increased throughout the night to dozens of officers on foot, more than 15 cars and at least one helicopter circling overhead. By 9:30 p.m., the police had effectively created a two-way block to halt the march.
Coven Mutual Aid, a group of activists based in LA, organized the event and intended it as a memorial for Wright.
Quyen Ballagh, another demonstrator, said she came to support the Black Lives Matter movement and to advocate against police brutality and white supremacy.
“I think a lot of the killing, especially with the most recent event with Daunte, is a result of police negligence, brutality and systemic racism,” Ballagh said. “LAPD and subsequent police departments in Los Angeles County are also guilty. It’s not just Minneapolis and Minnesota, and we need to make sure that all of our police departments are accountable.”
Although the issue of police brutality received attention last summer, police violence against Black people has continued, said Trang Hong, another attendee. Nonetheless, she said she hoped that the attention created by Wright’s death would not wane.
“We want to be out here; we want to be in solidarity; we want to keep this statement going,” Hong said.
LAPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Contributing reports by Hyeyoon (Alyssa) Choi.