by Kimberli Mejia Quito
Policing is violence, and the relentless murders of black and brown people are a confirmation of it. Black lives are still being taken from by police. The policing system does not prevent crime, but rather creates it. Policing is a white supremacist institution that inflicts harm upon black and brown communities. Their existence continues to perpetuate the systemic oppression of marginalized communities. The call to defund the police is not extremist, but rather excessively soft.
On April 11th, Daunte Wright, a 20 year old black man was fatally shot by police officer Kimberly Potter, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center. The resigned chief of police for Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, Tim Gannon, expressed that the murder of Daunte Wright occurred due to an “accidental discharge.” According to Gannon, Potter meant to deploy her taser but instead pulled her service weapon and murdered Daunte Wright.
Daunte Wright is another young black man murdered at the hands of the same system that is apparently meant to serve and protect. Tasers look and feel different from pistols and a good amount of police forces have protocols to avoid these types of situations. As indicated by the Brooklyn Police Department policy manual, “All taser devices shall be clearly and distinctly marked to differentiate them from the duty weapon and any other device.” The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension stated that Potter “has been with the Brooklyn Center Police Department for 26 years.” Potter has had 26 years of experience and yet somehow couldn't differentiate between a pistol and a taser. If a trained officer can’t tell the difference between a gun and a taser then they simply shouldn’t carry either.
Protesters and civil rights advocates called for justice while Daunte Wright’s family requested for people to likewise remember his life. His mother, Katie Wright, expressed, “he had a 2-year-old son that’s not going to be able to play basketball with him. He had sisters and brothers that he loved so much.”
However, Duante Wright isn’t the only individual that became a victim of police violence. On Thursday, April 15th, a video was released in Chicago showing a police officer chasing a boy. The officer had yelled, “Stop right now!” while cursing, followed by, “Hands. Show me your hands. Drop it. Drop it.” As the boy turned and raised his hands, he was shot in the chest. The boy was Adam Toledo, age 13.
According to The New York Times, Adam was one of the youngest people killed by the police in Illinois in years. The shooting took place at the early hours of the morning. Authorities stated that two officers were responding to reports of gunfire when they saw two individuals in an alley and started to chase them.
Prosecutors claimed that Adam was holding a gun as he ran down the alley. Regardless of whether he had a gun or not, the moment he stopped and held his hands up, complying with the instructions of the officer, he was killed. What is the point of complying if it results in being killed? Whether Adam was armed or not, that is not the focal point. He should not have been executed by the police.
Adema Weiss-Ortiz, the Toledo family's attorney, told reporters, “If you're shooting an unarmed child with his hands in the air, it is an assassination.” Elizabeth Toledo, Adam’s mother, mentioned that Adam had “a big imagination and curiosity... He even had this zombie apocalypse bag packed and ready to go... May he rest in peace.”
Police brutality is an issue that is continually at the surface in the U.S. However, it is not an issue that is exclusive to the U.S. It’s an issue that is embedded in countries like Mexico as well. On March 27th, a Saturday afternoon, Victoria Salazar entered a supermarket in Tulum. CCTV footage broadcast on Mexican media displayed her walking around the store waving a large empty water bottle. The recording suggested that most clients and staff paid no attention and proceeded with their business until it was subsequently uncovered that the store manager had called the police. Four municipal officers attended the call and detained Victoria Salazar on the street for allegedly disturbing the peace. Footage later emerged of Victoria crying out as a female officer was kneeling on her neck while the male officers stood by. An autopsy later divulged that Victoria Salazar died from a broken neck. Victoria Salazar was a 36 year old Salvadoran woman and a mother of two that had been living in Mexico since 2018, when she was granted refugee status for humanitarian reasons. Carlos Salazar, Victoria’s brother, told reporters, "We want justice! We hope this is resolved because everyone saw how my sister was murdered. The police did not act right.” Based on the attorney-general’s office, all four officers linked to the murder of Salazar were arrested and placed behind bars for the length of the trial.
Adam Toledo was 13 years old when police killed him with a shot to the chest. Duante Wright was a 20 year old black man and a father murdered at the hands of the police. Victoria Salazar was a Salvadoran woman and mother killed by a Mexican police officer kneeling on her neck. How many more black and brown people have to die before realizing that the policing system was designed to kill brown and black communities with impunity?
Police murdered a 13 year old boy in Chicago. They murdered a 20 year old black man in Minneapolis. They murdered a 36 year old Salvadoran woman in Mexico. Violence is not an aberration in police work. All policing is violence and savagery. It’s not possible to reform a system that murders children. Body cameras, more surveillance, training, lawsuits or trials have done nothing, but simply provide distractions. The only way to prevent police violence from occurring is by removing police from the equation and funding resources to address the root causes of violence. There are too many tragedies concerning police killing without any potential repercussions. Abolition is necessary for the safety of black and brown children. Abolition is the only way.