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April 12, 2021 – In response to last night’s tragic killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) President and Director-Counsel Sherrilyn Ifill issued the following statement:
“Last night, a police officer shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man outside Minneapolis after a traffic stop. In Virginia yesterday, the Governor called for a state investigation into a December traffic stop in Windsor, Virginia, in which Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino Army officer, was threatened and pepper-sprayed by police officers. Both of these terrible incidents – one resulting in the loss of life of a young man, the other a demeaning assault on a uniformed Army officer – demonstrate the ongoing policing crisis in in this country.
“Even as the trial of the officer who killed George Floyd continues just 12 miles away from where Mr. Wright was killed, it is evident that the system of policing in this country is fundamentally flawed. LDF will continue to push for the structural changes necessary to ensure accountability for officers who engage in misconduct or kill.
“We are gratified to see the bold new steps taken toward greater transparency and accountability for law enforcement officers nationwide, from the growing number of states that have abolished Qualified Immunity to the Maryland Legislature’s repealing of the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. And we continue to call on the United State Senate to move forward the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act without watering down key accountability provisions.
“But much more is needed. Accountability comes after misconduct often only following a brutal or fatal act committed by officers. We need a change in how public safety is conceived, funded, and undertaken in this country. At the heart of this re-conception lies a confrontation with the deeply embedded role of racism in shaping America’s public safety laws, policies, and practices.
“We urge, once again, a commitment to enforcing the anti-discrimination provisions of the nation’s civil rights laws against law enforcement departments, including Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and we urge support for local community-led efforts to reimagine a just and equitable vision of public safety. We extend our deepest condolences to the family of Daunte Wright and encourage law enforcement to focus on their duty to facilitate protests and protect those exercising their First Amendment rights in Minnesota and around the country.”
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative.