Story and photos by Adam Chau, AsAmNews
MINNEAPOLIS-Less than a year since the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, the killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was unarmed, by Brooklyn Center police on April 11, 2021, has angered and frustrated communities around the state.
AsAmNews reached out to members in the local Minnesota AAPI community for their perspective and thoughts on the shooting of Daunte Wright.
David Mura: Novelist, poet, playwright, performer, teacher, and long standing activist in the Twin Cities. David is the recipient of multiple awards and honors including two NEA and two Bush Foundation Fellowships.
“Watching the video of Daunte Wright being shot and killed and the videos of George Floyd’s arrest and murder, I keep thinking: If only the police had said to Daunte and George, ‘Take a breath, relax. We’re not here to hurt you. It will be all right.’ But then they would have had to look at Daunte and George as fellow citizens, as innocent by right of birth as opposed to guilty because they were Black, as someone the police are here to serve and protect, and not murder and destroy.
“The killing of the unarmed Daunte Wright has traumatized Minnesota’s BIPOC community which is still dealing with the Derek Chauvin trial and the trauma of George Floyd’s murder. There’s so much wrong here, from the way the police treat BIPOC citizens to the systemized inequities in our justice system to the ways these problems can be traced back to the origins of slavery and Native American genocide. I live just a few miles from where George Floyd and Philando Castile were killed by police, my son and daughter work with youth in the area, so all that has happened feels very close.
“With the recent rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, my fears for the safety of my daughter and my sons is greater than at any time during my life. The four years of Trump’s presidency has encouraged and sanctioned a rise in racism and White supremacy in this country and proves, unfortunately, that the arc of justice can move backwards. And yet, here in the Twin Cities, there are many efforts to bring BIPOC people together to support each other and combat the racism around us; this stems in part from the fact that unlike in many East Coast cities, different racial and ethnic groups are not as segregated geographically. My children went to a high school in South Minneapolis that was 20% Native American, 20% Black and East African (mostly Somali Americans), 10% Asian American and 30% White.
“Recently, I did a panel with the Vietnamese American poet Bao Phi, the African American poet Douglas Kearney, and the African American novelist Alexs Pate. We discussed the issues of race and the relationships between the Asian American and African American communities and our continued need to work together—work Bao and Doug and Alexs and I have modeled through artistic collaborations. Thirty years ago, Alexs and I created a performance piece that started with the Rodney King video, the trial of the police and the LA insurrection, and the conflicts between Korean store owners and the Black community.
We’re still dealing with the same issues today, and the need for more dialogues between communities of color still remains.”
CAPI USA (From Executive Director Ekta Prakash): Minnesota Non-Profit, founded in 1982, serving and embracing new refugees and immigrants from all over the world, including East and West Africa, India, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, and Burma, among others.
“The young man lost his life, a mother lost his son and a young boy lost his dad. It’s painful to see and hear this is happening again. We are still in the midst of a global pandemic; we are collectively grappling with the grief and trauma of losing loved ones and friends. Our hearts are hurting, and they are broken. The ongoing and increasingly violent attacks and recent shooting of Daunte Wright was not just heartbreaking, it is unacceptable. This young man didn’t deserve this at all. We are praying for his family, our community, and sending our prayers.
“This country needs a better reform system and we cannot wait anymore. We cannot afford to lose another life. Every life is important and beautiful. And everyone needs dignity. It doesn’t matter what color or race you are.
“CAPI’s staff are working so hard and doing our best to cope with COVID and providing resources, the death of George Floyd, Anti-Asian Hate sentiments, attacks on AAPI communities, fear and trauma impacting our staff and community, and ongoing hate against communities of color. Once again it’s a reminder to all of us that we stand together in solidarity and support each other.
“We have to take charge to make our communities safe. We understand that we must stand together to fight against racism and hate–and not target one another–because an attack on any community is an attack on all of us.
“I promise CAPI will continue to fight for a more inclusive world for all the communities we serve.
“Together, we mourn with Daunte Wright’s Family.”
Diana Nguyen: Poet, activist, and slam poet, Diana is a student at Hamline University double majoring in English and Sociology. She has been published in Hamline’s Fulcrum literary journal and in Ctrl + F Identities, Places, Connections, the University of Minnesota’s Asian American Studies Program Journal. She recently spoke at the #StopAsianHate# rally at the MN capitol.
“It’s important to remember that the murders of Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Philando Castile, and Jamar Clark are generational. The harm caused onto the Black community is generational. And although I am not a part of this community, I can understand generational trauma. How it shows up in my body. My parents grew up and fled the Vietnam war. War is all they knew. And sometimes I can see the war show up in their bodies too. And here I am, grown up and living in Minnesota, and we are in another war.
“I’m only 22. The majority of my friends are Black and Brown, in our 20’s too. When Daunte Wright got shot, my dear friend told me his Black son was just pulled over in that same area a few days prior. He himself drives in that area at least 3 times a day. If it wasn’t him, it could’ve been his son. I think about my Black friends. I think about their joy. Their smiles. And how this and countless other murders on their community has caused them pain. It could’ve been any one of my friends. The ones who lift me up. Who see me exactly for who I am. Who’ve shown me so much grace and unconditional love.
“I think about all the Black music I listen to. The clothes and fashion sense that I gravitate toward. It’s the culture I grew up in. I think the AAPI community, regardless of if we have ties to any Black people in our lives, benefit from and utilize Black culture. It’s the Black customers in nail salons and beauty supply stores. It’s the music we all love. It’s the way we wear our clothes. It’s the lingo we use. It’s the memes we love. It’s the movies we love to watch. For me, I fight for Black lives because I want to protect Black joy. I want to protect Black kids and women. I want to protect Black success. I want to protect Black culture. Regardless of me having any close proximity to Black people or not, I want to protect Black humanity. And I believe that there doesn’t need to be more reasoning to protect the Black community other than just taking a look around at everything happening in America.”
On generational differences in the AAPI community:
“I think for our older (Asian American) generations, it’s hard. I am still figuring it out, but I find that it’s about exposure in my experience. All my parents do is work. They have little education, and have a hard time understanding and speaking English. They don’t have many friends. I have had to go through many years reminding myself to honor and respect their experiences. But I am still not going to accept some of their viewpoints. Therefore for me, and how I feel like we need to show them that these issues matter is to lovingly call them in, don’t call them out. Don’t be angry. Be frustrated maybe, but don’t let the anger cloud how you move through these relationships. Trust me, I’ve done it. Don’t ‘cancel’ them. ‘Cause they will listen to me more than a stranger on the street because of the relationship that we have. Don’t give up either. And recognize that it’s not all going to be resolved in a night. It’s been 10 years of me trying to slowly show my older generations why these issues are so important and how they affect them too. I’m starting to see results, and mindset shifts from them. It’s about being patient with them, having those conversations, understanding their stories and experiences, and for me, it’s about showing them how I show up in the fight for Black lives and not giving up in what I believe is true.”
In addition, the following MN AAPI organizations have also put out statements on the shooting.
“We at Theater Mu are once again heartbroken and outraged at the relentless police violence that continues to occur against our Black communities in the Twin Cities. We are horrified by the murder of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, and we stand with his family and loved ones in their demand for empathy and justice.
“Our Black Minnesotan community continues to experience grief from the previous killings of Philando Castile, George Floyd, Dolal Idd, Jamar Clark, and many others. Since 2000, the lives of 55 Black men have been taken by Minnesota police (Star Tribune, April 13, 2021). The system of policing in this country was established to recapture enslaved Black and African people, to protect wealthy White Americans, and to uphold White supremacy. Since its inception, the police have disproportionately targeted, traumatized, terrorized, victimized, harmed, arrested, and killed Black Americans. The police must be held accountable. All entities that enable this must also be held accountable.
“We are faced with this tragedy in the third week of the Derek Chauvin trial, and in the middle of our collective grief over the shootings in Atlanta that targeted Asian women. Today and every day, we must fight for the safety and freedom of our Black community. We cannot liberate ourselves and combat the hate and violence occurring against our own community unless we stand together in solidarity for #BlackLivesMatter. We call on our fellow Asian Americans to join us in this fight. We ask our Asian American community to listen to Black leaders and community members.
“Oftentimes we feel at loss for words or actions, but there are many ways to show your support and care. It can take the form of a phone call to a friend, donating supplies to communities in need, dropping off food for loved ones experiencing trauma and exhaustion, calling on government officials, showing up to community events and rallies, and holding space and conversation as a way to process and grieve.”
“We are devastated and outraged at the murder of Daunte Wright, a 20 year old Black man, father, son and neighbor, who was shot and killed by Brooklyn Center police. We stand with his family and all those grieving who need justice, not the unleashing of more militarized violence on traumatized communities. All people deserve to feel safe going about our daily activities, and we know that none of us are safe until we all are. We also know that in these moments, a focus on property damage is often used to distract from the loss of life. Let us not lose sight that we must center Daunte Wright’s life and the demands of his family and community, as we call for justice and an end to all systems rooted in dehumanization, control and violence. We ask all our Asian American communities to stand in solidarity as we continue to say unequivocally that #BlackLivesMatter and work for a world where all of us can live with freedom and dignity in safe and caring communities. Contribute to the GoFundMe organized by Daunte’s family. Funds will go to Daunte’s funeral expenses and to the future care of his son, Daunte JR.: https://www.gofundme.com/f/dauntewright.”
Below are photos taken late morning and early afternoon at the Brooklyn Center police department on April 12, 2021, before the second night of protests.
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