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CNN NEWSROOM

Remembering Daunte Wright. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 22, 2021 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00]

REV. AL SHARPTON, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Because you're the prince that made us all come together.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: They stopped traffic today all the way through Minneapolis, Folk couldn't drive nowhere, because they had to say hail to the prince.

They shouldn't have done what they done. We going to stop Minneapolis today because a prince is on his way to his rest.

And, as you rest, there's a resting place. There's a martyr's bench. Take your seat, Daunte. Tell George Floyd who you are. Take your seat, Daunte. Shake hands with Philip -- Philando Castile. Take your seat. Take your seat next to Oscar Grant, because there's a special place in heaven for those that shed innocent blood, because God will use you to straighten out the world.

The world will never be the same, because we going to stand up for situations like this.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: We do not in any way condone or incite violence.

People keep telling me, Reverend, why don't you all tell people not to be violent? We always have. But when are you going to tell policemen to stop being violent?

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: The problem is not us talking to our youth. The problem is you talking to your bad cops.

Now, all cops are not bad. I saw 10 get on the stand the other day and testify against another policeman. That's why I know change is here. When you see the blue wall of silence tumble in a courtroom in Minneapolis, when policemen understand they are committed to the oath, rather than to their colleague, that's when we know a breakthrough is coming.

That's when we know we can pass the George Floyd bill, because folk are not going to lie on you no more. And next time you get ready to pull your gun, next time you get ready to bend your knee, put in your mind the picture of the man taking the handcuffs and making Chauvin put his hands behind his back and walked into a penitentiary, and learn that you will pay for the crimes you commit.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: As I talk closer to the family, they said that, well, the real reason they stopped was because his tags had expired.

Well, I come to Minnesota to tell you, your tags have expired. Your tags of racism has expired. Your tags of police brutality has expired. Your tags of white supremacy has expired. Your tags of looking at us different than anybody else has expired. Your tags have expired. It's time to renew and get some new tags, tags of righteousness, tags of fairness, tags of treating everybody the same way, tags of no justice, no peace.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: Lastly, when I come to Minneapolis, three days after George Floyd was killed, lynched by knee, I went to one of the marches, and I saw almost as many whites as blacks.

Now your children are doing what you wouldn't do, standing up for justice. We called Martin Luther King III and I, National Action Network called the March in Washington August 28, the anniversary of his father's March. People don't call it. It's a pandemic. It's going to be a super-spreader, but 204,000 people came.

We tested them all. We did all we were supposed to do to see what way we could avoid any breaking out of COVID coming in. And we marched around the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. We marched around the John Lewis Voting Act, because they are trying to turn back voting rights.

[15:05:11]

Those tags done expired, too. That ain't going to happen no more.

And we marched all over, marched for Breonna Taylor, whose boyfriend is with us today. Some went and stayed down there and stood up for Breonna. Getting ready to go march for Pamela Turner May 13 in Texas. I hope you are all live in Texas. We're on the way, because your tags have expired.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: We are going to stop by North Carolina, where a young man was shot yesterday. We are going to look in Columbus, Ohio. Your tags have expired.

We are going wherever you show up, because your tags have expired. In the name of the prophet Isaiah, we are not going to be quiet as long as there is no justice.

I want you to know that this Bible that you claim you believe in, you need to stop quoting it and start reading it. It's a Bible of justice. And if you don't understand it, talk to some of us that read it straight. I know you all had a president that holds it upside down, but turn it right side up.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: Because, if you turn it right side up, and you get to the end of the book, at the end of Revelations, God made a promise, Aubrey. God made a promise, Katie.

He said the first shall be last and the last shall be first, and the lion and the lamb are going to lay down together, and God will take care of his children. God will make a way out of nowhere. God will heal the land. God will take care of Daunte now.

Stand up and be what we were born to be. We're not anyone's slave. We're the children of God. We're the children of God. We're the children of God.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: Before we leave, and we're going to leave orderly, we are going to the family go out first, and you all that just became family for a day.

Katie and Aubrey had to go outside and identify the family. All of you all became cousins today.

We want the family first, but we want some of those that have come to recognize the princely estate that we're here and to give proclamations.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: We are waiting to hear from Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

But we're -- we can't tell exactly what Reverend Al Sharpton is doing there. But we have been listening to his very moving, powerful eulogy.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Yes, calling him the prince of Brooklyn Center in this eulogy.

And the reverend has done this so many times after young people have been killed at the hands of police. This family now, the family of Daunte Wright, now joining a fraternity of families with too many members, and many of those families are in attendance there at Shiloh Temple in Minneapolis today.

CAMEROTA: In fact, the mother of Philando Castile is there. You will remember the hideous story of what happened to him when he was shot by police, pulled over after a broken taillight. The boyfriend of Breonna Taylor, the no-knock warrant. He is there, the family of George Floyd.

It's incredible, the solidarity of, as you say, this club that none of them ever wanted to be in, but they show up in force for a moment like this, for Daunte Wright's funeral. And, look, Reverend Al Sharpton knows his way around a pulpit. He

knows his way around a eulogy, sadly, and he had them on their feet and applauding many, many times at some of his lines.

BLACKWELL: And promising that they would be continued work toward accountability.

And part of that accountability is the passage, he says, of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

[15:10:04]

If the senator comes back, we're going to bring you some of that, Senator Amy Klobuchar, that represents Minnesota.

But let's go now to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz and Miguel Marquez, joining us. They are both live in Brooklyn Center.

And, Miguel, the reverend there said that, if you knew who we were, then you would treat us differently.

Well, we heard today from his siblings, from his parents, from his family exactly who Daunte Wright was.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, look, it was really hard to listen to the parents, who could barely get the words out, his mother basically saying: The roles should be reversed. He should be burying me. I should not be burying my son.

His father, who is a formidable man, he can barely speak. He could barely bring himself to speak. The one through line in talking about Daunte Wright, whether it's his parents or his siblings, is his smile. They talk about just his smile and how it warmed a room and how he always had -- he was always the jokester, he was -- always had something funny to say.

That is what they will miss more than any anything else. Two of his six siblings spoke just a bit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONICA WRIGHT, SISTER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: My name is Monica right. I didn't really get enough time with him. I wish I got enough.

(APPLAUSE)

M. WRIGHT: I didn't get to tell him I loved him before he left.

He didn't deserve this. He was so loved by everybody. Do you all see? Do you all look around and see how big our family was? He had love for everybody.

(APPLAUSE)

DALLAS BRYANT, BROTHER OF DAUNTE WRIGHT: My name is Dallas. I am one of Daunte's three older brothers. And we were pretty much the closest out of the two.

I spent a lot of time with this man. And every holiday is not going to be the same without him being here. He was literally the life of the party, when he came in, the smile, his laugh -- his laugh was really contagious. Anybody knows, if you heard his laugh, it's like -- it's contagious.

But I am going to miss this man so much, because he was literally my best friend, through thick and thin, through all the late-night conversations about him trying to better himself as a man and the man he wanted to be for Jr. We talked for hours on end.

He was doing that. And I was just -- I was so proud of the man that he was becoming. And he was going to make an amazing father to Jr. once Jr. got older throughout the years. And I loved my little brother to death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now, this service today is as much a remembrance and a funeral and a goodbye to Daunte Wright, 20 years old, father of one, as it is a rallying cry for equality and justice, police reform across the country, not just here in Minneapolis, and equal justice under the law.

It's a bit of a whipsaw week for people here in Minneapolis, because they saw -- we're seeing the burial today of Daunte Wright. But then they saw the verdicts in the Derek Chauvin trial just a couple of days ago.

So, it feels as though there is progress. There was verdicts in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, and the fact that Kim Potter, the former police officer here in Brooklyn Center, who was charged so quickly after the death of Daunte Wright, both those things together give them some hope the door is open.

But now it's a matter of, what's on the other side, and can they -- can they get a greater long-term sort of equality under -- in the justice system and in policing in this country? -- back to you.

CAMEROTA: You're so right, Miguel.

But these two cases do seem woven together by geographic proximity, by timing, by the same people that we see grieving in both of these places, tragically.

And so -- but, Shimon, what about that? I mean, I think the Reverend Al Sharpton was, again, trying to thread those things together, which is the eulogy of this individual, Daunte Wright, and the larger political climate that we're in. And so he vowed to that crowd that they would get -- that they will pass the George Floyd Accountability in Policing Act.

Is that realistic?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think it is potentially realistic, given the fact that so many of the certainly the Democrats are supporting it.

So, it is. And given all these incidents, you would think this would put more pressure on politicians to make some changes that so many of the people in these communities that -- want, where they are having these issues with police departments.

And it's really any size police departments, right? You have the Minneapolis. But when you look at where -- what happened to Daunte Wright and where that happened, a smaller size police department, about 50 or so officers within that department.

[15:15:10]

You look at places like Ferguson, which I covered, also a very small police department. So, it stretches all over the country, some of the bigger police departments, and then some of the smaller police departments.

And when you listen to what Al Sharpton was saying, he's talking about training and racial profiling. And this is exactly what the Department of Justice is coming in to Minneapolis to look at. They're going to go back, and they're going to look at the training. They're going to look at the activity of police officers in the last several years to see, who were they targeting, if anyone, what kind of people they were stopping, what kind of people they were arresting, and what they can learn from that, and whether it is a matter of just better training, better tactics.

Are there systemic issues within the Minneapolis Police Department? And, no doubt, I think, at some point, we're going to get a closer look at the police department in Brooklyn Center, that there's probably going to be a similar kind of investigation by the DOJ into that police department, as things settle with that investigation.

So, we're going to see more scrutiny certainly from the Department of Justice and from the Biden administration into some of these police departments.

BLACKWELL: Yes, this is the frustration a lot of people have, Shimon, is that it is after a tragic death like this that the investigation comes, the investigation of Minneapolis after the death of George Floyd, the investigation of the Ferguson Police Department after the death of Michael Brown, potentially the investigation of Brooklyn Center after the death of Daunte Wright.

And if they know that these disparities exist, why do they have to wait for men to die to do the work to investigate? But at least now the DOJ is starting in Minneapolis.

You saw on the right of your screen the parents of Daunte Wright, Aubrey and Katie Wright, come up to give what appears to be a proclamation from Congresswoman Ilhan Omar. She represents Minnesota's Fifth District, which includes Brooklyn Center.

Miguel, Shimon, stay with us.

We will take a quick break. And we will continue this conversation in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:21:59]

CAMEROTA: We are watching the funeral for a 20-year-old Daunte Wright, and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar speaking now.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN): That word justice is so heavy on our minds this week, justice.

Two days ago, in a courtroom not 10 miles from where Daunte was shot, a jury found Derek Chauvin guilty, guilty of the murder of George Floyd. And the nation owes a debt of gratitude to the Floyd family.

Thank you for being here.

To my friend, Attorney General Keith Ellison, who's, by the way, Reverend Al, if I could introduce his family, Keith's family, who has had his back right there, if they could stand up, Keith's family, his wife, Monica. They had his back through everything.

And to Ben Crump, Reverend Al, Reverend Jesse Jackson, all those in my state who have been warriors for justice.

And yet, while this was a historic moment for our country, we cannot confuse accountability for justice, because true justice is not done as long as having expired tags means losing your life during a traffic stop. True justice is not done as long as a choke hold and knee on the neck or a no-knock warrant is considered legitimate policing.

True justice is not done as long as black Americans are killed by law enforcement at more than twice the rate of white Americans.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

KLOBUCHAR: And to use your words, Katie, true justice is not done as long as your son isn't coming home for dinner.

Our hearts ache for Daunte in part because so many people in this room and throughout our state can imagine being 20 years old, driving around their neighborhood on a Sunday afternoon, yes, even with expired registration tags, yes, even with an air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror.

Many young people can imagine calling their mom, their mom, when they need insurance information, or when they're scared. But only some can imagine being shot by a police officer during a traffic stop. Only some could imagine that this phone call would be their last. Only some live that -- with that fear every single day.

And that, Mr. Crump, as you know, is the definition of injustice.

During that groundbreaking trial, George Floyd's family members, a store clerk, a firefighter, passerbys, as well, as you noted, Reverend Al, a number of police officers, testified about George Floyd and what happened that day. They told the truth. They said it was wrong.

And we heard Darnella Frazier, a teenager, who testified, having witnessed George Floyd's murder, say: It's been nights I stay up apologizing and apologizing for George Floyd for not doing more.

Could she have done more? No. It was not on her to change what happened that fateful day. And it's not on people who nearly a year later happened to be at the intersection of 63rd and Orchard in Brooklyn Center to change what happened to Daunte.

[15:25:10]

It is on us, as leaders in our communities, in our neighborhoods, as lawmakers. We can do more. We must do more, because, for too long, change has come inch by inch, when we should be miles ahead. It is time for Washington, D.C., to move forward on police reform and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

(APPLAUSE)

KLOBUCHAR: We must make policing more accountable. We have to change police training and standards, including banning choke holds, which my colleague Senator Smith is leading the bill to ban choke holds, along with myself. She is up here with me on this stage.

We have to change the status quo, so that driving while black doesn't result in getting shot.

(APPLAUSE)

KLOBUCHAR: This, this is the urgent task before us, not for tomorrow, when I go back to Washington, not for tomorrow, not for next year, but for now, true justice.

So, as we remember Daunte's life and grieve his death, we must repair what's broken in this country and make sure class clowns and basketball fans, doting fathers and caring sons remain with us in body, as Daunte now does in spirit, Mrs. Wright.

And we won't rest until justice, true justice is done.

That's my proclamation to you.

(APPLAUSE)

SHARPTON: We are getting ready to go.

Let me again thank...

CAMEROTA: OK, we have been sitting there to Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, talking at Daunte Wright's funeral to his family, to the community gathered and to so many other families of high-profile victims that you have heard about over the past few years of police violence.

BLACKWELL: Yes. She also talked about passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing

Act. We will talk about that in a moment, but, first, the question of policing.

CAMEROTA: Joining us now, we have Joe Ested. He's the former police officer from Richmond, Virginia, and the author of the book "Police Brutality Matters." We also have CNN political analyst Toluse Olorunnipa, national politics reporter for "The Washington Post."

OK, Joe, I want to start with you, because you have done this job. You have been a police officer in Richmond. And so I want to just talk about what all the speakers touched on ,that -- and we can all agree on -- that driving with an expired registration tag, driving with a broken taillight, driving with a dangly air freshener, which is illegal there, that none of that should cost anyone their lives.

And so, I mean, because you have been in this role, how do you think we can change policing so that driving while black is not life- threatening?

JOE ESTED, AUTHOR, "POLICE BRUTALITY MATTERS": (INAUDIBLE) Can you hear me?

CAMEROTA: Not well.

ESTED: Hello?

CAMEROTA: OK, better.

(CROSSTALK)

ESTED: Can you hear me now?

CAMEROTA: Now we can.

(CROSSTALK)

ESTED: OK. First of all -- yes, OK, no problem.

I would like to first -- my heart goes out to all the family members. I just can't think -- listening to the service, I think about my own children. I have three boys. And I worry about them being stopped by the police. So, I have a vast interest in correcting this issue when it comes down to police brutality.

And you asked the question about, how do we stop this? We need strong accountability measures. The police department has always been to protect us, police them, and they had a free pass just to do exactly what they wanted to do, including bad policing.

It's sad to say that it brought us to this time to where the whole world now has taken note, and we're all talking about how to correct this problem. Through legislation, I think, is the key -- I think is the key component in fixing police brutality, but not just federal.

We also need state legislations as well. BLACKWELL: So, Toluse, let me bring that to you.

We heard from the senator that the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act must be passed. There are negotiations right now actually being led by Senator Cory Booker. We know that he's working with Senator Tim Scott specifically on the question of qualified immunity, which is protecting police officers from most civil lawsuits for their misconduct.

Where does that stand and the possibility that there will be something passed?

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's definitely momentum behind the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act that was not there a few weeks ago, a month ago, before this latest series of killings that have been so high-profile, documented by video.

[15:30:00]