BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — From his podium at his church in Brooklyn Park, Pastor Francis Tabla usually preaches to about 700 parishioners.
But on Thursday, he is standing in solitude to watch Daunte Wright's funeral online.
Wright was shot and killed by a now former police officer in the nearby town of Brooklyn Center on April 11, 2021.
"It increased our trauma," said Pastor Tabla, who started Ebenezer Community Church two decades ago. "I’m telling you, I got to the point where I was like losing my breath."
Pastor Tabla serves mostly African immigrants, many of whom escaped civil war, but still carry the weight of worry that what happened to Wright will happen again.
"We have to give hope because you see their fear and trepidation in their faces as you stand before them; you see uncertainty," said Pastor Tabla.
This week, Pastor Tabla joined Brooklyn Center residents who are calling for transparency in the Brooklyn Center Police Department. The officer there who killed Wright during a traffic stop has since resigned.
The group wants changes to the 'use of force' training officers receive, have arrest records published by race and for council members and city manager positions to be full-time. They're also asking that employees live within the city limits - none of the 49 police officers on the Brooklyn Center force live in the city.
"The systems you try to use to marginalize the people of color is just not working," he said. "It brings some closure because he’s going to be laid to rest, but then it provokes us to say we have to keep advocating for equality."
Speaking out and standing up for his community is where Pastor Tabla shines. But he also said, even alone, everyone, anywhere, can still offer the Wright family what he calls communal presence.
"That means my presence there helps to bring about healing, my presence there helps bring about solace," said Pastor Tabla. "It just helps in the entire grieving process."
In Brooklyn Center, the Mayor is issuing another curfew for Thursday night. There has been little unrest there recently but he expects rallies to continue.
The curfew starts at 11 p.m. and goes until 6 a.m.