04.14.2021

Dear Members and Friends,

We write to you at a moment in which our Black members, friends, students, faculty, and staff are again in mourning, and the pain of the last year has been further compounded. We write to share information about what recently happened near Minneapolis on April 11th, and to share ways in which you can help.

On Sunday, a 20-year-old Black man, Daunte Wright, was murdered by a white Brooklyn Center, MN police officer near Minneapolis, after he was pulled over for a minor issue. Daunte was a son, a brother, a father, a partner, and a friend, and his loss is deeply felt by his family and his community, who are now demanding justice.

Daunte’s death occurred mere miles away from where Derek Chauvin has been on trial for the murder of George Floyd not one year ago. It bears chilling and tragic similarities to the murder of Philando Castile by St. Anthony, MN police in 2016, after they pulled him over for a broken tail light. The Black communities of the Minneapolis area have seen their existing pain compounded by yet another senseless loss.

A curfew has been placed on the Minneapolis area in an attempt to prevent the community from expressing their pain, grief, and outrage in the streets, as is their right. Police continue to violently attack protestors who have taken to the streets to demand justice for Daunte, firing flash grenades and deploying tear gas. The National Guard has been activated in the Twin Cities metro area, while the familiar rhetoric about “rioting” and “looting” has been used to vilify mourning demonstrators. It is apparent that, again, police have prioritized the protection of private property over the protection of Black lives and over justice for Daunte Wright’s murder. Folks on the ground need tangible support. We stand in solidarity with all protestors in Minneapolis.

To our Black members and friends: please know you can reach out to the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Caucus at bipocchair@geo3550.org, who connect students of color on campus, conduct outreach to faculty and undergraduates, and amplify the voices of Black and Indigenous folks and other People of Color, both in GEO and in the larger campus community. You can also reach out to our officers at umgeo@geo3550.org at any time.

To our non-Black members: please remember this is a difficult time for many of your friends, colleagues and students, and for many members of staff with whom we share this campus – be empathetic, be flexible, and be ready to be supportive or to give space. Racism and white supremacy are structural in nature; take time to reflect on your own role within these systems and how you can support Black-led initiatives.

As we wrote last May, the very institution of policing, and the institutions of this country, are built on anti-Black racism and white supremacy, including police unions that work to shield police officers from accountability. One result of this institutional racism and white supremacy is racial profiling during traffic stops, leading to a much higher rate of stops by police on Black and Latinx drivers and in many cases, the use of excessive force against Black people with fatal consequences. These are more than statistics – these are people with full lives that are changed, disrupted, or ended prematurely. Daunte Wright should be alive today, and his family and community deserve justice. Until then, they need support and contributions from wherever possible.

Brooklyn Center is home to many Black, Latinx, and Southeast Asian families, has several food deserts, and is now being terrorized by the National Guard in a moment of grief and mourning. Below we have listed ways to support Daunte Wright’s family as well as the community of Brooklyn Center and local protestors. We encourage members and friends to contribute where possible, and to circulate these resources to others in your networks.

How to Help:

Statement on the Murder of Daunte Wright, Ongoing Protests, and Ways to Help