Daunte Wright, the young black man shot during a traffic stop in Minneapolis, was a “prince” whose life ended too soon at the hands of the police, the Rev Al Sharpton said during an emotional funeral.
Hundreds of people wearing Covid masks packed into Shiloh Temple International Ministries to remember Mr Wright, a 20-year-old father-of-one who was shot by a police officer on April 11 in Brooklyn Centre.
The funeral was held just two days after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted in the death of George Floyd and amid a national reckoning on racism and policing.
“The absence of justice is the absence of peace,” said Mr Sharpton, who delivered a thundering eulogy.
“You can’t tell us to shut up and suffer. We must speak up when there is an injustice.”
Mr Sharpton’s eulogy included a stinging rebuke of the possibility that Mr Wright was pulled over for having air fresheners dangling from his mirror.
Mr Wright’s mother has said that her son called her after he was stopped and told her that was why he had been pulled over. Police say it was for expired registration.
“We come today as the air fresheners for Minnesota,” Mr Sharpton said, vowing that changes in federal law were coming.
“We’re trying to get the stench of police brutality out of the atmosphere. We’re trying to get the stench of racism out of the atmosphere. We’re trying to get the stench of racial profiling out of the atmosphere.
“We come to Minnesota as air fresheners because your air is to odorous for us to breathe,” he said. “We can’t breathe in your stinking air no more.”
Brooklyn Centre’s police chief said it appeared from body camera video that the officer who shot Mr Wright used her pistol when she meant to use her Taser as Wright struggled with police.
The 26-year veteran, Kim Potter, is charged with second-degree manslaughter. Both she and the chief resigned after the shooting.
Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, spoke about her son, saying, “The roles should be completely reversed. My son should be burying me,” before burying her hands in her face.
Ms Wright recalled her son becoming a father to a boy born prematurely: “He was so happy and so proud, and he said he couldn’t wait to make his son proud. Junior was the joy of his life. He lived for him every single day.”
Funeral attendees were brought to their feet when artist Ange Hillz painted a portrait of Mr Wright — white paint on a black canvas — as trumpeter Keyon Harrold played Amazing Grace and Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing, the Black national anthem.
And during a silent reading of Mr Wright’s obituary, some attendees could be heard crying softly.