Daunte Wright vigil held to honor victims of police brutality


Photo Courtesy of DefundUIPD

Photos, candles, flowers and posters are placed on a bench in front of the Illini Union to honor the late Daunte Wright. The vigil was held by University students to honor victims of police brutality.

By Mona Alrazzaq, Assistant News Editor

University students gathered on the Main Quad last Thursday to honor the life of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota after he was pulled over for a traffic stop.
The City’s recently resigned police chief claimed that he believed that the officer mistook a taser for a gun when she shot Daunte Wright, according to the Associated Press.
This shooting occurred during the third week and about 10 miles away from the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer currently being charged for murdering George Floyd.
In addition to the recent shooting, footage of 13 year-old Adam Toledo’s shooting by a police officer in Chicago was recently released. Both of these tragedies sparked national outrage as well as more protests and demonstrations against police brutality.
Defund UIPD, a group on campus advocating for the divestment of money from the University of Illinois Police Department and into local community campus resources, facilitated this vigil and opened up space for community members to honor Daunte Wright and other victims of police brutality.
“I don’t think there’s a stronger case for defunding the police other than the case that the police made for themselves this past week,” said Hiba Ahmed, junior in Business and member of Defund UIPD.
Attendees were encouraged to bring “candles, posters, flowers, poems, songs and thoughts to honor Daunte,” according to Defund UIPD’S Instagram page. There was also an open platform for anybody to speak about their experiences or views on the topic.
“In many cases, we have to grieve and fight at the same time,” said Candace Livingston, graduate student in Education and member of Defund UIPD.  “We wanted to open the space to just grieve.”
Drake Materre, former University student and local activist, spoke at the vigil and also emphasized the importance of taking time to heal after hearing news like this and in the middle of advocating to defund and abolish the police.
“We need to defend ourselves so that there can be no more Daunte Wright, no more Toldeos, no more George Floyds, no more Breonna Taylors, but we also need time for healing,” Materre said.
As for the University, Materre condemned Chancellor Robert Jones and the University administration for their silence on police brutality at the time.
Enoma Egiebor, sophomore in AHS and student body president, also spoke at the vigil. She mentioned that she and her running mate, Nicole Arnold, sophomore in LAS, experienced racism from one of their competitors while they were running for student body president and vice president with no accountability taken.
Egiebor mentioned the importance of not only recognizing injustice, but actively fighting it when it happens to friends and colleagues and discussed how she believes “whatever happens on college campuses, especially college campuses of this size, is truly a microcosm of the entire world.”
“It’s one thing to just post on your Instagram story, but it’s another thing to stand up against racism in your everyday life,” Egiebor said.
Egiebor also mentioned that there is a “pattern in policing,” and police officers need to be held accountable for their actions.
“We need to call for accountability because in any other job, that wouldn’t be ok,” Egiebor said. “If you’re a doctor or if you’re a nurse and you mix up medicine and fentanyl and the patient dies, you’re going to jail or going to get in trouble.”
The vigil that was organized was intended to be a pause to collectively grieve prior to a potential protest, according to Livingston and Ahmed.
“We know that one vigil or one collective effort or collective moment to grieve is not enough to express what everyone is feeling right now, and we want to let the campus know that we are here and self-preservation is key in this fight,” Livingston said.

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