By Shania Pagan
During the landmark trial of the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin, and following an already protest-filled year, police shootings were on the rise. Less than two weeks apart, a 13-year-old Latino boy was fatally shot in Chicago, Illinois and in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a 20-year-old African-American man was killed during a traffic stop. Both shootings were captured via officer body camera footage, and have incited protests across the country.
On Monday, March 29 Adam Toledo was in pursuit of Chicago police after there were reports of shots being fired at a passing vehicle. Toledo allegedly was given the firearm from the person he was with as the police arrived, and subsequently was chased. According to body camera footage, Toledo threw the gun behind himself when told to show his hands to an officer, and immediately complied. He was shot 5⁄6 of a second later. Prior to the release of police footage, the initial report from the Chicago Police Department claimed that there was an armed confrontation.
Thousands of people protested immediately after Toledo’s death in Chicago, and the slogans “Justicia Para Adam Toledo,” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” began trending on social media. Illinois Representative La Shawn K. Ford, called for a reformation to The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, to increase regulations on police foot chase policies.
According to the Chicago Sun Times, the shooting has reignited movements in the city to remove uniformed officers from schools, and middle schools have had discussions with their students, aged 11 to 13, about their fears and thoughts on police after Toledo’s death.
Daunte Wright, a 20 year old father, was killed on April 11th after an officer assisting with his attempted arrest, mistaked her gun for her taser and shot at close range. The officer had worked at the Minnesota department for 26 years. At the time of the incident, she had her taser on the left side of her uniform, and the gun on the right. The officer held the weapon for seven seconds before firing. Within the week after his death, she resigned, and was arrested and charged with second degree manslaughter.
When Wright was stopped by officers, he was on the phone with his mother, Katie Wright, who overheard the start of the altercation between officers and her son, and told him “Daunte, don’t run.”
The fatal traffic stop occurred due to an expired registration sticker and escalated because of the presence of an air freshener on Wright’s rearview car mirror, which is in violation of one of the state’s laws. This prompted officers to run Wright’s identification through police databases, which revealed that he had an open arrest warrant.
In the days after his death, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, issued a curfew for the region where Wright was killed, local schools were instructed to go virtual out of caution, and both peaceful protests and violent riots occurred.
Police departments in Kansas and Missouri have begun to make amendments to their taser policies, making it mandatory for them to carry only yellow tasers, as well as carry them opposite their gun on the uniform.
During a time of nationwide outrage regarding police brutality standards, an alarming rise in officer involved shootings is bound to be accompanied by more civil unrest. After a year of protests and added policy reforms across the country, it’s exhausting and terrifying for many knowing that the devastating cycle of POC losing their lives in police encounters, only continues.