HUDSON -- Members of Hudson and the wider region came together on the 11th Street Bridge Sunday to show support for members of its community — Daunte Wright and his family.
Wright, 20, was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn Center. He and his family used to live in Hudson, and he has relatives still in town.
“When we found out Daunte’s family lived here, we wanted to show up to show them that we love them,” said Tallia Tajima, one of the organizers.
The event was held by the Hudson Bridge Group to support the family, who were in attendance on Sunday. Katie Wright, Daunte’s mother, thanked people for their support, saying she was initially hesitant to attend an event in Hudson. The family left Hudson because they wanted to live somewhere with more diversity, she said.
Hudson Bridge Group Member Andy Hassan said the event had to happen. The community has been hurting for a long time, he said.
“It was time we came together as a community and took a stand,” he said.
The bridge serves as gateway to Hudson and Wisconsin, and the group is using it to show its support for those in pain in Minneapolis and Minnesota, Hassan said.
“We’re here, we see them and we care about them,” he said.
Tajima and Kristin Emerson started the group as a way to take back the bridge, take back Hudson and make it a more welcoming place.
“We want change to happen in Hudson,” Emerson said.
The group started small, with a few people and three flags. On Sunday, more than 150 people were present.
Supporters waved Black Lives Matter flags, held signs of support and chanted Wright’s name. Those presented included members for the Hudson community, the surrounding towns and the wider area. State Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee attended with the Hudson area’s former state Sen. Patty Schachtner, as well as U.S. Senate candidate Alex Lasry.
Wright’s aunt Kelly Bryant, who still lives in Hudson, said it was amazing to see the support from her town. That community support is important, she said.
“What happened with Daunte is not right,” she said.
She’ll always remember her nephew as a kind kid.
“He would do anything for his family and his son,” Bryant said.
As the crowd gathered together at the end of the event, Hassan recognized the youth present.
“The younger people in the community are who are going to make a difference for the next generation coming up,” he said. “And today we have had a lot of young people stand up.”
When he first moved to Hudson, Hassan said he was concerned to learn about a hate group in the area. When he spoke with the mayor about his concerns, Hassan said he was told the best thing was to ignore it. But Hassan said six years later, the group is still there.
Racism can’t be ignored. Hassan said it needs to be treated like the disease it is. The problem has to be acknowledged, he said.
“Cancer, like racism, once you get your team and build your strategy, it needs to be surgically removed,” Hassan said. “And that’s how you take care of racism, you don’t ignore it.”
Isaiah Gray, of River Falls, said racism is alive and well in the area. He has seen it from peers, from his work and from police officers.
He shared a story of one night driving with his father, when they were pulled over. The officer initially said the stop was because they were speeding, but his father said that wasn’t the case. Gray said then the other reason the officer gave was because of a crack in the windshield, something he said wouldn’t have been seen in the dark of the night.
“It doesn’t matter if we’re out in Minneapolis or here in Hudson or River Falls, all the same things you see are happening,” Gray said. “I could have ended up the exact same way as Daunte, just as my father could and my sister.”
Gray is part of the Equity Team at River Falls High School, which is working to help make the school a safer place for people of color. The group has partnered with the school’s LGBT+ community, who Gray said is facing situations that are just as bad.
Gray pointed out the names of Black people who have been killed on the shirts of attendees.
“Those names are why we need to keep fighting,” he said.
Schachtner said it’s time for white people with privilege to step up and do what’s right.
“This privileged white old lady is ready to take on the fight,” she said. “I am ready to fight for you, I am ready to be a voice for you, all you have to do is reach out to me.”
Katie Wright echoed her message, saying white people have to stand up.
“Black people can’t do it alone,” Wright said.