Vice President Kamala Harris said Tuesday that Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man shot and killed by police outside Minneapolis earlier this week, “should be alive today.”
Harris opened her remarks at a White House event on Black maternal mortality by addressing Wright’s family, saying that she and President Joe Biden “grieve with you” and “stand with you.”
“Our nation needs justice and healing. And law enforcement must be held to the highest standards of accountability,” the vice president said. “We know that folks will keep dying if we don’t fully address racial injustice and inequities in our country — from implicit bias to broken systems.”
Wright was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, on Sunday. Police said veteran officer Kimberly Potter, who is white, meant to use her stun gun. Wright’s parents said they “can’t accept” that explanation. “A mistake? That doesn’t sound right. This officer has been on the force for 26 years,” Wright’s father said Tuesday.
People have protested in Minnesota and beyond since the shooting, expressing outrage over police repeatedly using excessive force against Black people. Derek Chauvin, the former officer who killed George Floyd, another unarmed Black man, in Minneapolis last year, is currently on trial there for murder.
At the event Tuesday, Harris linked the same racial injustices and inequities that lead to police killing Black people to how Black women suffer higher rates of death in pregnancy and childbirth.
“Make no mistake: Black women in our country are facing a maternal health crisis,” Harris said, noting that Black women are three times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related issues.
“We know the primary reasons why: systemic racial inequities and implicit bias,” said the vice president, who has long been an advocate for Black maternal health. Harris relayed how Black women have repeatedly shared their stories of experiencing postpartum depression and being “dismissed” or telling doctors they are in pain and being “ignored.”
“Black women deserve to be heard, their voices deserve to be respected,” Harris said. “And like all people they must be treated with dignity.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.