Appearing on the Today show, Elliott sought to keep the focus on the fact that Potter killed a person, saying, “I can only speculate as to what the officer was thinking in that moment, but what I do know is that through the actions of the officer, this young man is dead and a mother is without a son, that much I do know, and that is I think the most important thing that we have to keep in mind here.”
Much of the news coverage now turns to the protests. A Dollar Tree store and a Speedway gas station were vandalized and looted, we learn. Protesters defied curfew. The National Guard is out in force.
You know what? A young man is dead. His toddler son is left fatherless and his loved ones are grieving. All because he was pulled over—he thought for an air freshener on his mirror, the police now say for expired registration tags—and arrested because of a warrant for a missed court appearance on two misdemeanor charges, and during that arrest he had a moment of panic and tried to get back in his car. And in that moment Kim Potter thought that shocking him with a Taser would be the right way to deal with a scared, skinny boy, only she was so ragingly incompetent and so careless with the Black life before her that she pulled and discharged her gun instead.
That is what matters, not the windows at the Dollar Tree. And this not an isolated incident. It happened just 10 miles from where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the murder of George Floyd. It happened in the nation of Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice and Walter Scott and Jacob Blake. Protest is more than a legitimate response. It’s a necessity.
As Elliott suggested to Today’s Savannah Guthrie in response to a question trying to refocus the story of Wright’s killing onto a “difficult night” of protests and concerns about “continued unrest,” what matters—why there’s protest—is that this keeps happening. “This is a tragedy for our city, for our community, in fact for our nation,” he said. “We’ve seen this far too many times, where a young Black man or woman is, you know, pulled over by police or encounters police and they end up dead. And what these young people who are protesting are asking is, ‘When will this stop?’”