Justice March for Daunte Wright in Fort Myers
A group of concerned citizens marches through downtown Fort Myers to seek justice for Daunte Wright on Saturday, April 17, 2021.
Amanda Inscore, Fort Myers News-Press
Javier Teuntor and 25 demonstrators marched down First Street on Saturday afternoon in downtown Fort Myers giving outside diners a view of “what their community looks like.”
And their community is more than fed up with what it believes to be the continuous unjust killings of Black people by law enforcement across the country.
The demonstration, which lasted 90 minutes and spanned throughout downtown, was in direct response to the killing of Daunte Wright, the Black Minnesota man who was shot by a white police officer during a traffic stop earlier this week.
Teuntor, 26, of Fort Myers organized the Justice March for Daunte Wright and led three other demonstrations following the death of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man who died while being arrested last spring.
“I felt like all the work I’ve done hasn’t been enough,” Teuntor said. “… This stuff is still going on. It’s not that we’ve wasted our time, but we haven’t been enough.”
Wright, a father of a 2-year old boy, was pulled over by Brooklyn Center Police on April 11 for what officers say was expired car registration tags. While trying to arrest Wright for an outstanding warrant, body camera footage shows police officer Kim Potter, who is white, fatally shooting Wright in the chest.
Brooklyn Center Police Chief Tim Gannon, who resigned Tuesday, said Potter meant to fire her Taser as she repeated over and over on the body cam video before discharging her firearm.
Potter resigned Tuesday and was charged Wednesday with second-degree manslaughter.
Wright’s slaying ignited a string of protests in the small suburb of Minneapolis where thousands of demonstrators are seeking justice.
In Fort Myers, demonstrators listened to Teuntor give an impassioned speech before starting down First Street chanting with signs in hand, including one held by Nova Spiller, 8, that read, “The world should not be divided by color.”
A stop at the corner of Main Street and Monroe led to an exchange of ideas between demonstrators consisting of white and black, young and older, men and women.
“They want us to fail so we have to come together and win,” Schoene Gary said, adding she doesn’t pass up a chance to let her voice be heard.
The march took the group through First Street one more time, chanting “enough is enough” and invoking the names of Floyd and Wright as well as Tamir Rice, a 12-year old Black boy killed by Cleveland police in 2014 while holding a toy gun, and Breonna Taylor, a Black Louisville woman killed last year by police serving a no-knock warrant.
While some outside diners raised fists in support and chanted along with the demonstrators other diners referred to them as losers who needed to get jobs. Other diners used vulgar language in response.
None of it bothered Teuntor who said the whole point of the march was to be heard by a larger audience, many of which he said could understandably be uncomfortable with the demonstration.
“That’s what this country is built on,” Teuntor said. “Black people didn’t just have the (right to) vote given to them. They had to earn it. Just like women. They had to earn it. People have to get uncomfortable. Some people paid with their lives, but, at the end of the day, it’s for the greater good.”
The demonstrations come nearly a year after Floyd died during an arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. A white Minneapolis cop knelt on a subdued and struggling Floyd’s neck and back for 9 minutes, 29 seconds.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office Autopsy Report ruled Floyd’s death was caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The incident was captured on cellphone video.
In addition to Minneapolis, protests cropped up all over the country, including Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Lehigh Acres, Marco Island and Naples.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is currently standing trial for second-degree unintentional murder in the death of Floyd. Chauvin declined to testify Friday and the defense rested its case.
Closing arguments are expected Monday followed by jury deliberations.
Teuntor and others were confident Chauvin will be found guilty.
“Justice has no face, has no color. I’ll always believe in justice as long as there is justice,” Teuntor said. “If (Chauvin) doesn’t end up at least going to jail for it, it’ll make it daunting. We’ll have to keep going. There’s going to be more people who are going to be angry. There will be a lot more people here next time.”