Several major league sports organizations announced they are postponing games involving Minnesota teams on Monday after a young Black man was killed by police during a traffic stop outside Minneapolis one day earlier.
The Minnesota Twins announced it would not play its game as planned against the Boston Red Sox because “it is in the best interest of our fans, staff, players and community,” adding that the MLB team “extends sympathies to the family of Daunte Wright.”
The Twins made the decision after consulting with Major League Baseball, as well as local and state officials. Information about the rescheduling of the game, including ticket details, will be released “in the near future,” according to the team.
The NHL said it is postponing the Minnesota Wild’s Monday game against the St. Louis Blues, adding that the game is rescheduled for May 12.
“The decision was made out of respect for the community, following the tragic shooting that occurred in Brooklyn Center, Minn., Sunday afternoon,” the hockey league’s statement read.
The NBA made an announcement soon after, saying Monday night’s game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Brooklyn Nets is postponed “in light of the tragic events in the Minneapolis area yesterday.” The organization said its “thoughts remain with the family and friends of Daunte Wright during this difficult time.”
Police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center shot and killed 20-year-old Wright on Sunday afternoon after pulling him over for having an expired registration on his vehicle. According to Police Chief Tim Gannon, an officer discovered during the traffic stop that there was an outstanding warrant for Wright’s arrest for a gross misdemeanor.
Newly released graphic body camera footage appears to show officers trying to arrest Wright outside his vehicle when a struggle ensues. He appears to try to climb back into his car when a female officer shoots him next to his open door. Police said Wright’s car traveled several blocks before crashing into another vehicle, and he died on the scene.
Wright’s mother, Kate Wright, said her son called her just as he was getting pulled over. She said she recalled hearing a police officer tell Daunte Wright to put the phone down and exit the car, and then when her son asked why, the officer said, “We’ll explain to you when you get out of the car.”
She then heard what sounded like the phone being placed down and then “scuffling,” before one officer instructed Wright not to run while another told him to put down the phone, which was then disconnected. When Wright’s mother called back, his girlfriend, who was a passenger in the car, answered and told her Wright had been shot.
Gannon said Monday that the officer who killed Wright was likely trying to shock him with a stun gun when she mistakenly fired her weapon, “from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction in distress immediately after.” The police chief would not identify the officer ― only describing her as very senior ― and said she has been put on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said Monday that the state legislature must hold police reform hearings in response to Wright’s death, adding, “We can stop pretending that this is just the natural order of the universe and things happen this way.”
Brooklyn Center Mayor Mike Elliott said, “I do fully support releasing the officer of her duties.” President Joe Biden is aware of the incident and has contacted Elliott, according to the mayor.
Wright’s death increased the tension between law enforcement and community members, sparking protests in an area already under stress during the ongoing murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who killed George Floyd last year and triggered a wave of nationwide demonstrations against racial injustice and police brutality.
Athletes on major sports teams are not new to making sports-related decisions in response to social justice movements. Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick began the act of kneeling at games during the national anthem as a form of silent protest against police brutality. NBA and WNBA players have been outspoken about police shootings of Black people and have walked off the courts in protest while using their voices to advocate for justice.
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