As tensions and protests continue to flare in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, over the fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, local churches are calling for prayers and calm while seeking to help the community process its grief.
“I offer my condolences to the family and friends of Daunte Wright for the loss of their son, father, brother and friend. I have also been praying for his eternal repose, for his family and for all those who loved him. Daunte was created by God in his image and likeness and for a ‘definite purpose,’ as St. John Henry Newman wrote, and we grieve the loss of his young life,” Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement Monday.
Wright, was shot during a traffic stop by veteran police officer, Kim Potter, 48. Police say the killing was accidental. Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon said he believed Potter mistook her firearm for her Taser when she shot Wright as he resisted arrest on Sunday. Body-camera footage of the incident released Monday shows Potter shouted "Taser" before firing.
“I also am praying for the Brooklyn Center Police officer involved in the shooting, and for her family and friends. I suspect that they are grieving in a different way,” Hebda added in his statement.
“While early indications point toward the shooting being accidental, I encourage allowing investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to complete a thorough investigation before coming to any personal judgments as to what occurred,” he cautioned. “I hope that we as a community might be able to pause and pray, particularly during this time of already heightened tension due to the Chauvin trial. I am encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd.”
Protests have been ongoing in Brooklyn Center over the shooting since Sunday and have attracted national attention as the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin takes place approximately 11 miles away in Minneapolis for the death of George Floyd last summer.
“It’s just a tragedy that this community will have to process,” Franzen said.
Brookdale Covenant Church has created a space for prayer in its sanctuary with a large photo of Daunte Wright inside.
“We just need to be here as much as we can, and encourage people to lament the world that we’re living in right now, and to find hope for how we sustain our community, both those who are parts of our church and those who aren’t,” Franzen said.
The Christian Post reached out to Franzen for further comment Tuesday but she was not immediately available.
A part-time church secretary and longtime member of the more than 100-year-old Brookdale Covenant Church, who only gave her name as Debbie, said the neighborhood has been challenged by the protests and riots.
“Brookdale across from the church has been pretty much vandalized. It’s sad to see destruction. This is a horrible, horrible event definitely, but I can’t understand destruction and violence as a response. I think prayer and encouragement needs to be there,” said Debbie in her personal capacity as a former longtime resident of Brooklyn Center who recently moved to a neighboring suburb.
“It’s sad to see that happen here. It’s a sad tragedy. It’s a horrible thing that happened for this young man’s family. I’m praying for the family. I’m also praying for the police officer who tragically made a horrible mistake. It’s a sad thing all the way around,” she said.
While some have argued that implicit bias likely played a role in Wright’s death, Debbie doesn’t see it that way.
“I think it was a poor choice of what she did. I don’t believe she intentionally planned on shooting him. I don’t believe that for a second,” she said, noting the longstanding diversity of the suburb. “I lived in the community for many years until recently but I’ve never experienced anything like what we have now.”
While Brooklyn Center was more than 71% white in the 2000 census, the suburb of 30,180 residents saw a significant decrease in white residents by 2010. The census showed the white population dropped to 49.1% that year.
As far as Debbie knows, however, the suburb has had a minority-majority for a long time and she strongly believes that people shouldn’t look at this incident emotionally through race, but see it as a mistake.
“To tell you the truth, we have a multicultural church. It’s wonderful. I love it. It’s like a taste of Heaven. I love having the people from other nations and other backgrounds. We are one race. We all came from Adam and Eve. Every single one of us on this whole Earth,” she said.
Pastor JD Larson of North City Church, who is partnering with Brookdale Covenant Church to encourage prayer in the community, said: “We have a God who can handle all of our emotions. The anger, the anguish, the confusion.”
When asked what she would like the world to know about her son during an ABC News interview Tuesday, Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, said: “My son was an amazing loving kid. He had a big heart. He loved basketball. He had a 2-year-old son that is not gonna play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much. He was an uncle and grandson. He had a smile that would light up the room that was so big and bright and he was amazing. ... He just had his whole life taken away from him. We had our hearts pulled out of our chest. He was my baby.”