Minneapolis, Minside.—The red brick plaza surrounding the Hennepin County Government Center is no stranger to protest. When former Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter was convicted of manslaughter in December, days before Christmas, the plaza was filled with activists who cried and hugged and celebrated. “Ain’t no power like the power of the people,” local activist DJ Hooker shouted into a megaphone.
Potter, a white woman, shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright, a Black man, during a traffic stop last April—in the midst of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. Protests and flash bangs followed. The day of Potter’s conviction—an outlier for officers who kill—the plaza was decorated with red signs bearing Wright’s photograph. Activists handed out yellow signs that read:
In the thin layer of snow that graced the grass nearby, someone spelled Daunte’s name. Outside the courthouse, his family spoke to the crowd through tears.
On Friday, when Potter was sentenced, their tears came from inside. One by one, Wright’s family members offered victim impact statements. Dressed in black, the mother of Wright’s child called his death an execution.
Twhere weeks earlier, hundreds drove to the Government Center to protest yet another police killing. Blocks of cars waited to begin a slow crawl through downtown, the exhaust from their tailpipes reminiscent of tear gas. A handful of activists wove through them on foot, amping up the crowd. Negative temperatures made breath visible. A young boy in a Black Lives Matter hoodie stood in the middle of the street with a sign that said:
AM I NEXT
A cacophony of car horns interrupted the otherwise quiet night. Another poster, affixed to a car, read:
HE WAS SLEEPING
Two days earlier, Minneapolis police officer Mark Hanneman killed Amir Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, during a predawn no-knock raid. the no knock warrant was approved by Judge Peter Cahill. Less than a year ago, the same Cahill sentenced Chauvin to 22.5 years in prison for murdering George Floyd.
Locke was asleep on his friend’s couch when police burst through the door. He was still under his blanket when Hanneman opened fire. Currently, Hanneman is on paid leave.
The car caravan was one of many protests for Locke. The next day, Locke’s father addressed a crowd of hundreds downtown, in again-freezing temperatures. Draped in a white blanket, one protester gripped a cardboard sign that read: