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ASKING FOR CHANGE: Minnesota families of those killed by law enforcement call for police reform

Matilda Smith, mother of man killed by police officers

(FOX 47) -- While the most recent case in the news is that of Daunte Wright, it's far from the first victim of a police shooting in Minnesota.

Friday, family members of those killed by police officers spoke about their losses. They say real change can begin when it comes to former Officer Kim Potter.

"A 26 year veteran. We cannot rely upon her white woman tears and claims of an accident when she knew the difference between a taser and a glock," said social justice activist, Nekima Levy Armstrong.

She calls for harsher charges for former Officer Kim Potter.

"It's time for this state to get serious. We are not accepting manslaughter charges," Armstrong said. "We demand murder charges. We will be in the streets until it happens."

Some have been demanding change for decades.

"My son Demetrius was killed 25 years ago," said Marilyn Hill. "25 years ago."

Friday's press conference featured the families of many people killed after an encounter with law enforcement, from as recent as the shooting of Dolal Idd a few months ago.

"We need justice, equality and our rights," said Id's father, Bayle Adod Gelle.

Wright, Idd and Floyd's deaths are not the first at the hands of police officers. The family of Jaffort Smith remember his death in 2016.

"This is your day. You will see it again. We will not be in silence," said Jaffort's mom, Matilda Smith. "We will not shut up. You killed our children."

Family members of Jamar Clark, killed in 2015, say they believe not much has been done to prevent similar situations.

"A lot of the things we demanded back then fell on deaf ears," said one of Jamar's family members.

Many of Friday's speakers calling on politicians to make a change through police reform bills.

"Last week, to their shame, the Minnesota Senate GOP struck down a measure that would allow police officers to be fired if they had an affiliation with white supremacy," said Jonathon McClellan, president of Minnesota Justice Coalition.

Justin Teigen's fiancé was left with few answers after he died in 2009.

"They're all failing us and they're allowing these officers back out on these streets," said Toshira Garraway. "That's why Daunte Wright is dead today."

Lawmakers themselves expressed frustration as well.

"They do not want to pass reform that the people want, the people whose taxpaying dollars they take," said Minnesota DFL state representative John Thompson of St. Paul.

The family members calling for external review of the police, instead of investigations from within.

Hardel Sherell's mother pushing for just that after her son died in a Beltrami County jail in Bemidji back in 2018.

"We are to stand in solidarity and say 'Enough is enough.," said Del Shea Perry, Sherell's mother.

Paul Johnson recalls his friend Travis Jordan being killed by police in 2018.

"Some of you wonder why they have to be loud," Johnson said. "It's because you're not listening."

Also at Friday's press conference was a white man who was shot protesting George Floyd's death. He is one more voice calling for less brutal police tactics.

Alex Tejada

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