KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Protesters in Kalamazoo showed their solidarity and called on police reform Monday night after a man was fatally shot during a traffic stop with police in Minnesota.
Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed Sunday after he was pulled over in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. The Brooklyn Center police chief said he believes the officer “had the intention to deploy their taser but instead, shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet.”
The Kalamazoo group gathered at the county administration building.
“We being in the community, we need to know that our leaders are working so that nothing like this of this magnitude happens in Kalamazoo. We need to know that our officers are trained not to pull a gun and say it’s a taser,” protest organizer Quinton Bryant said.
KDPS Chief Vernon Coakley and Mayor David Anderson met with protest organizers to discuss their concerns.
“We denounce what happened in Minnesota,” Coakley said. “My condolences to the Wright family. It was horrific. I won’t get into the traffic stop matters, but I know it was just something of a license plate, and there’s loss of life in that.”
Coakley denounced the officer’s actions while commending the Minnesota Police Department for being transparent in the hours that followed and releasing body cam footage of the incident.
Anderson thanked protest organizers for continuing this conversation in Kalamazoo.
“… we need to be talking about that more and more, just not when another life is lost,” Anderson said.
Protest organizers say the willingness from Kalamazoo leaders to collaborate and listen is a step in the right direction.
“Seeing city leadership show up and actually speak out when things like this happen because it matters, words matter and the actions behind them matter just as much,” protest organizer Noelle Massey said.
Organizers said Monday’s message was not against police but instead police brutality.
“We do want the chief to be a hero in this story in Kalamazoo. I don’t want anybody to think that we’re against the chief or against police — we’re against police brutality and policing that shouldn’t be going on in 2021,” Bryant said.
KDPS released a video ahead of the event sharing guidance on protesting policies held in the city. Coakley said the city supports the right to peacefully protest, adding that policies regarding demonstrations will be enforced at events.
“As always, our top priority, my top priority, is to keep the city of Kalamazoo safe, and a safe environment for everyone in our city,” Coakley said in the video.
More information on policies while protesting can be found on the city’s website.