Community activists and loved ones gathered in Minnesota to say their final goodbyes to Daunte Wright on Thursday, 11 days after he was fatally shot by a police officer who allegedly mistook her firearm for her Taser while trying to arrest him.
Hundreds of mourners wearing COVID-19 masks packed into Shiloh Temple International Ministries to remember Wright, a 20-year-old father of one who was fatally shot by a police officer on April 11 in the small city of Brooklyn Center.
Ben Crump, attorney for the Floyd and Wright families, led the assembled mourners in chanting, "Daunte Wright’s life mattered!"
In a rousing speech to the mourners, Crump acknowledged the relatives of other young Black men and women killed by police.
He said: "We have to fight for our children until Hell freezes over. And then we have to be prepared to fight on the ice."
Through tears, Wright’s mother, Katie Wright, took to podium after the family’s attorney and told the crowd: "I never imagines that I’d be standing here. The roles should be completely reversed - my son should be burying me."
"My son had a smile that was worth a million dollars. When he walked in the room, he lit up the room," she said. "He was a brother, a jokester. He was loved by so many."
She described how his son was "the joy of his life."
"Junior was the joy of his life. He lived for him every single day. And now he's not going to be able to see him," Katie Wright said as she began to cry again.
Delivering the eulogy on Thursday, the Rev. Al Sharpton called Wright a prince.
Sharpton said the police "thought he was just some kid with air freshener. He was a prince!"
He descrived the activists who have come to Minneapolis "as the air fresheners of Minnesota," working "to get the stench of police brutality out of the atmosphere."
Among those attending Wright's funeral were Valerie Castile, whose son Philando Castile died after being shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb in 2016, and Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who was filmed saying "I can’t breathe" in a fatal 2014 encounter with New York City police.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Tim Walz, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also attended. George Floyd’s family, including his brother Philonise were also in attendance.
Walz presented the family with a state proclamation and called for local, state and federal lawmakers to "continue to enact real, meaningful change."
"We know that this tragedy is connected to the deep and systemic racism in our society that Black people in Minnesota and across this country face every single day," Walz said.
Klobuchar and Rep. Ilhan Omar, both of Minnesota, also separately addressed the crowd, with the congresswoman gifting the family with a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of Daunte.
More than a dozen members from an armed team of local men, the Minnesota Freedom Fighters, provided security.
Wright was pulled over on the afternoon of April 11. His mother said he called her to say he was stopped for having air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror — a traffic violation in Minnesota. Police said he was stopped for having an expired car registration.
The shooting occurred when a scuffle broke out as police tried to arrest Wright, after realizing he had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court on charges of fleeing police and having a gun without a permit.
Wright’s death set off protests in Brooklyn Center, a working-class, majority nonwhite city, with hundreds of people gathering every night for a week outside the city’s heavily guarded police station. While the mayor called for law enforcement and protesters to scale back their tactics, the nights often ended with demonstrators lobbing water bottles and rocks at the officers, and law enforcement responding with pepper spray, tear gas and rubber bullets.
The police chief said it appeared from body camera video that the officer who shot Wright used her pistol when she meant to use her Taser. The White officer, 26-year veteran Kim Potter, is charged with second-degree manslaughter. Both she and the chief resigned soon after the shooting.
Wright’s killing came amid increasing tension during the weeks-long trial of Chauvin. By the day of the verdict, more than 3,000 National Guard soldiers had flooded the area, along with police, state troopers and other law enforcement officers.
Minneapolis residents who peacefully celebrated Tuesday's guilty verdicts had barely one full day before attention turned to burying Wright.
At a viewing for Wright on Wednesday, friends and family members wept as they stood before Wright’s open casket, which was blanketed with red roses. Inside the open casket, the young man was dressed in a jean jacket bedazzled with several red and green gem-like buttons on the lapels.
An obituary handed out at the memorial recalled Wright’s love of Fourth of July fireworks, the "lemon head" nickname bestowed by an aunt and the months he spent in a hospital intensive care unit when his son was born prematurely.
Fox News' Jayla Whitfield and The Associated Press contributed to this report.