A curfew has been announced in about 40 cities in 23 US states, and several states have mobilized the National Guard in response to widespread violent protests and riots following the death of arrested African American George Floyd in Minneapolis.
According to The New York Times, George Floyd was arrested on May 25 after a deli employee called 911, accusing him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.
Video shows officers taking a series of actions that violated the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department and turned fatal, leaving Mr. Floyd unable to breathe, even as he and onlookers called out for help.
The day after Mr. Floyd’s death, the Police Department fired all four of the officers involved in the episode, and on Friday the Hennepin County Attorney, Mike Freeman, announced murder and manslaughter charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who can be seen most clearly in witness videos pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground. Mr. Chauvin, who is white, kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to the criminal complaint against him. Our video shows that Mr. Chauvin did not remove his knee even after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness, and for a full minute after paramedics arrived at the scene.
As onlookers urged the officer to let Floyd up, they noticed his nose bleeding but the officer remained kneeling on his neck – even after he became unresponsive. He was taken to hospital by paramedics and later died.
To Justify their actions Police stated that Floyd “physically resisted” after being ordered to exit his vehicle before the video was filmed. Some media organizations, however, have stated that surveillance footage from a nearby restaurant shows he didn’t resist arrest.
The protests began after a video of Floyd’s detention appeared on social media.
The bus stop at the site of Floyd’s death on Chicago Avenue became a makeshift memorial throughout May 26, with many paying tribute to him and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement. As the day progressed, more people showed up to demonstrate against Floyd’s death. The crowd, estimated to be in the hundreds of people, then marched to the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police. Participants used posters and slogans with phrases such as “Justice for George”, “I Can’t Breathe”, and “Black Lives Matter”.
Although the protests on the first day were initially peaceful on Wednesday some groups’ interactions with police became more violent and looting began. This led to police officers in riot gear using tear gas and flash grenades on the protesters, while some protesters threw rocks and other objects at the police.
In Minneapolis itself, where the riots have continued for the sixth night, police have fired tear gas and noise grenades at protesters. Clashes have sparked Chicago and New York, protesters smashed shop windows in Philadelphia and set fire to a police car in Los Angeles. It is forbidden to stay on the streets at night in Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and dozens of other major cities.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate, has condemned the violence but underlined that US citizens have the right to demonstrate.
US President Donald Trump has accused the radical left of violence, robbery, and firing, saying the rioters were ashaming of Floyd’s memory. President Trump was taken by Secret Service agents to an underground bunker at the White House on Friday night.
Police arrested about 4,100 people in U.S. cities over the weekend, according to the Associated Press, and have killed at least several people nationwide. Nearly a week after Floyd’s death, it remains unclear whether tensions across the country are calming or escalating.