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'We don't take those as accidents': Minnesota police shooting takes toll on Black men in Kansas City

Word of another police killing takes emotional toll on young Black men in KC
Posted at 8:47 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 00:02:20-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It didn't take long for 16-year-old Junior Thompson to hear about a Minnesota police officer shooting and killing 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday.

"We losing (sic) too many already," Thompson said. "We don't need that to keep happening."

The chief of the Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, police department told media that believes the officer meant to use a taser during a traffic stop with Wright, but instead 'accidentally' drew and fired her service weapon.

"When it comes to like that type of crime, we don't take those as accidents because they’ve happened like a lot of times," Thompson said.

That has made Thompson aware of what to do in case he's ever in the presence of law enforcement.

"I don't got (sic) a good temper, so I try and keep all like, anger built down so when I talk to them, it don't escalate to nothing," Thompson said.

But there's a constant fear in the back of his mind.

"I feel like if we make the wrong move, they think we reach it – for some, if say, if I have my phone in my pocket, they'll think my phone, cuz I got a black case on it, will be a gun," Thompson said. "So hurry up and say he got a gun instead of asking what's in our pockets. I understand that they fear for their lives, but that don't mean hurry up and go to the first thing."

Tamarrion Martinez, one of Thompson's friends, said people shouldn't get used to hearing about another Black man being shot by police "because of a mistake. And though moved by the way people protested last year in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, Martinez doesn't think their work is done.

"Don't sit at home and keep preaching about the situation if you're not going to do anything about it," Martinez said.

Both young men are regulars at the basketball courts Pat Clarke brought to the Oak Park neighborhood.

"See it’s about building relationships," Clarke, of the Oak Park Neighborhood Association, said. "I can't stop a cop from killing a kid. Nah. I can't. But I can do this: I could keep talking to these kids and try to get these kids out of the way."

All in an effort to make sure they return to their loved ones safe.

"My mom is the one who worries about me the most," Thompson said. "It always scares her is when I'm out here. Because she feels like anything could happen at any time."