By Shayla Reaves

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A community effort is focused on saving lives in Minnesota. The Minnesota Tab Renewal Fund launched Monday, May 3 in response to the killing of Daunte Wright.

The 20-year-old Black man was pulled over for expired tabs and later shot by now-former Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kim Potter on April 11. Authorities charged Potter, who is white, with second-degree manslaughter.

Community members partnered with the nonprofit organization, Still Kickin, to start the Minnesota Tab Renewal Fund weeks later. The goal is to help minimize interactions between police and Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color (BIPOC) in Minnesota by covering the cost of vehicle registration for up to 500 people.

“I think everybody can do something, but most people are asking ‘What can I do?’ I challenge people to stop asking … and start doing. We’ll learn along the way,” Still Kickin Executive Director Jesse Ross said.

Ross and community partners want to raise $100,000 to end a risk for dangerous interaction for BIPOC communities. The death of Wright put police traffic stops under intense scrutiny.

Research and data show Black people are disproportionately more likely to be pulled over by a police officer. One study analyzed nearly 100 million traffic stops across the U.S. and found Black drivers were about 20% more likely to be stopped than white drivers relative to their share of the residential population.

“Me personally, I get stopped by the police very often and I know what that fear is like,” Ross, who is Black, said. “ I know what that’s like to get that call thinking about your kid being out.”

In Minneapolis, from January 2020 until late April this year, half of all traffic stops involved Black drivers, according to police department data. Black people make up 19% of the city’s population.

“I can get in my vehicle and whether or not my tabs are expired or I have a headlight that’s out, I’m not worried about my life when I get into my vehicle. I’m not worried about my parents’ lives,” Director of Platforms for Forge North Meg Steuer, who is white, said. “Thinking about how I can put myself in a position to solve that problem for our community and for other folks, is really powerful for me personally.”

Steuer approached Ross with the idea after meeting disability case manager and community activist Charlie Barba-Cook in Brooklyn Center.

“I just kind of got frustrated and said to an open room, ‘I have an idea and I want to talk to somebody about it,’ and Meg answered me.” Barba-Cook said. “I wanted to do something now. I thought maybe I could pay off some tabs of a couple friends and from there I was just like, ‘Well maybe other people would be interested in this too. How can I do it?'”

READ MORE: After Daunte Wright's Killing, A Push To Change How Officers Handle Traffic Stops

Through the partnership with Still Kickin, the Minnesota Tab Renewal Fund was born.

“It’s just one of many things that we are trying in order to change the world,” Ross said. “Start here in our proximity. That’s what we’re hoping to do.”

Steuer called it important to make sure Minnesota is nice for everyone.

“I work in regional economic develop and so we talk about the fact that Minnesota is a really incredible place to live, but for who?” Steuer said. “We vote at the highest rates and we give at the highest rates. We have a great school system for who? When we look at actually disaggregating that data, we see really big discrepancies between our white populations and our Black, Brown and Indigenous populations. I think we as Minnesotans, we have a responsibility to understand that just because we top a list it doesn’t mean that same experience is happening for everyone in our community.”

HOW IT WORKS

The Minnesota Tab Renewal fund will cover expired tabs or tabs expiring in the next 90 days, focusing on Brooklyn Center first then expanding to other communities.

Though anyone can apply, priority will be given to people who identify as BIPOC.

Applications will be processed twice a month. Organizers will pay tabs directly through the DMV website. Recipients will receive a confirmation message. Donors will receive a letter thanking them for their donation.

For more information on how to donate or apply, visit Stillkickin.co or visit the Minnesota Tab Renewal Fund Project.

Shayla Reaves