In the shadow of the Hennepin County Government Center, as the murder trial for fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin sped toward a close, two families embraced during Tuesday afternoon's April snowfall. It was a rite of public sorrow.
One was George Floyd's family, who have been attending the trial in his death for more than a month.
The other family's mourning was more fresh: the family of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old shot and killed Sunday afternoon by a Brooklyn Center police officer. The circle of grief included Wright's father and mother, his aunt, his grandmother and his toddler son. They remembered his flashbulb smile and big heart.
And while acknowledging the differences in the cases — in one, an officer knelt on a man's neck for more than nine minutes; in the other, an officer mixed up her gun and her Taser, according to Brooklyn Center police — the families drew a line connecting their grief, their calls for justice and their calls for reform.
What should have been routine police interactions ending with no more than a ticket, they said, turned into excessive force and another unnecessary death of a Black man.
"She was the law, right?" Wright's aunt, Naisha Wright, said of the Brooklyn Center officer, Kim Potter, who resigned on Tuesday. "Put her in jail like they would do any one of us. … It wouldn't be no accident. It would be murder.
"Did y'all not see that beautiful baby?" Naisha Wright pleaded. "He is fatherless. Not over a mistake. Over murder. That's murder."
They were joined by families of several others killed by law enforcement in Minnesota in recent years.
"Minneapolis, you all can't sweep this under the rug anymore," said Philonise Floyd, one of George Floyd's brothers.
"We saw this video of this young man, Daunte Wright, and the police are saying that the young man was running from them," said another of Floyd's brothers, Rodney Floyd. "What I saw on the man's face was a scared young kid. Terrified. Black folks, we've been here 400-plus years. We've been running ever since from these police officers trying to kill us. Back then that was called the slave patrol. Now it's called the police."
As Floyd's family spoke, Wright's son, Daunte Jr., babbled and cried nearby.
Katie Wright, Daunte Wright's mother, recalled the trauma of Sunday afternoon: She got a call from Daunte, saying police had pulled him over. "Am I in trouble?" she heard Daunte ask before hanging up the phone.
"When I called back, the girl he had in the car answered the phone, and it was on a FaceTime," she recalled. "She was crying and screaming and she said they shot him. And she pointed the phone toward the driver's seat, and my son was laying there, unresponsive. That was the last time that I seen my son."
As the two families leaned on each other for support, a political battle over further police accountability legislation continued at the State Capitol.
Less than one year after lawmakers passed a sweeping package of reforms following George Floyd's death, Democratic state lawmakers and DFL Gov. Tim Walz have insisted that the changes don't go far enough toward reducing deadly police encounters.
Some DFL state legislators this week are also insisting that the Legislature pass new police accountability bills into law before any negotiations over the state's next two-year budget can start — something that must be agreed upon before the May 17 end of this year's session.
Six DFL state senators who are part of the People of Color and Indigenous (POCI) Caucus released a statement Tuesday calling on Walz and the Legislature's leadership "to suspend all policy and budget negotiations until both the House and Senate have heard and adopted legislation on police accountability."
Group members underlined priorities such as bills to establish civilian police oversight councils, funding for community organizations to prevent crime, legislation banning officers from affiliating with white supremacist groups and a ban on altering or destroying body camera footage. Democratic lawmakers also want to end qualified immunity for police officers.
"We cannot keep doing the same things and expect a different result," said state Rep. Samantha Vang, a Brooklyn Center Democrat who chairs the POCI Caucus.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said on Tuesday that he has asked his Judiciary and Transportation committees to hold "fact-finding" hearings on new police accountability proposals within two weeks.
Last year's package of police policy changes included a ban on chokeholds, the elimination of "warrior training" and changes to the arbitration process when officers are fired or disciplined. Meanwhile, lawmakers passed a new requirement that officers intercede when they observe misconduct by their peers.
"I'm not promising that we are going to do more reforms, I'm promising to listen to see if something is warranted," Gazelka said.
Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing both Floyd's family and Wright's family, said outside the courthouse he was stunned that the Brooklyn Center shooting happened during the Chauvin trial.
"We believed," Crump said, "that police would be on their best behavior.
"When you think about the fact Daunte was trying to get away — he was not a threat to them!" Crump continued. "Was it the best decision? No. But young people don't always make the best decisions. As his mother said, he was scared."
Standing near Crump was someone whose family represented the historical sweep of the moment: Deborah Watts, a Minneapolis resident who co-founded the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation. Till was the 14-year-old boy who was lynched and killed in 1955 in Mississippi, a brutal race-based killing considered one of the pivotal moments of the civil rights movement.
Watts is Till's cousin.
"The past is not the past," she said, "until justice is served."