Dean Garry W. Jenkins' Message to the Law School Community On the Death of Daunte Wright

April 12, 2021

Dear Law School Community: 

I am writing to follow up on President Gabel’s message about the recent killing of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota resident Daunte Wright, yet another unarmed Black man killed by the police. I’m saddened and angry that our community must yet again endure this incredible personal pain.

Black Lives Matter and Daunte’s life mattered, along with the lives of the many Black men and women killed by the police every year. While the details of each case inevitably differ and we continue to learn more about yesterday’s fatal encounter, we must remember that the continued violence against fellow, unarmed citizens who are Black is unacceptable and unjust. Of course, this most recent incident comes at a time when many of us are already stressed and depleted as we follow the trial of Derek Chauvin for the killing of George Floyd.  Yet we must not allow the familiarity of these tragic events to lead to complacency.

As I wrote on May 27, 2020, following the killing of George Floyd, “our institutional values, those that define Minnesota Law and that define our profession, are challenged at times like these. But we will not be complacent. We can all advocate for a world in which safety and human rights are not dependent on one’s race or ethnicity. And, as Minnesota’s flagship law school, we have a responsibility to support the Twin Cities community—through our clinics, courses, internships, policy engagement, and scholarship. We must look for opportunities, where we can, to bring about positive change; to exercise leadership, to make difference; and to help promote true justice.” 

It’s clear that the days to follow will be especially distressing and stressful in the metropolitan area and to many people in our Law School community.  I encourage everyone to prioritize the practice of self-care and well-being, to stay safe, and to use University counseling resources, as needed.

Today, we mourn the loss today of Daunte Wright’s life and acknowledge the impact of his death on his family and community. Going forward, I know that we must continue to challenge systems that are not working, work to protect Black lives, and use our unique gifts and professional skills to build a better world.   

In peace and solidarity,

-Garry

Garry W. Jenkins, dean and William S. Pattee Professor of Law

p.s. If you have not already aware, Gov. Tim Walz has issued a curfew in Hennepin and Ramsey Counties from 7 p.m. tonight until 6 a.m. Tuesday. 

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