May 28, 2020 – Citizens of the southern side of Minneapolis erupted into riots that carried into Thursday morning after an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, was killed while pleading for help as a police officer pinned him to the ground.
The Minneapolis Police Department released a statement Monday night detailing the response of police officers to the scene of an attempted forgery at around 8:00 P.M. The department stated in the report that “officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress” and was then “transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”
However, security camera footage later revealed that there was no evidence of Floyd resisting arrest, but rather, he was thrown to the ground as officer Derek Chauvin dug his knee into Floyd’s neck, suffocating him to death.
The three other officers at the scene, officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng, all stood by as Floyd repeatedly moaned in the video, “I can’t breathe…please, I can’t breathe.” Bystanders at the scene begged the officer to stop, but Chauvin refused.
Even as Floyd evidently lost consciousness, Chauvin continued to use his knee to pin him to the ground. Within the next hour and a half, Floyd was pronounced dead.
Enraged by the news of Floyd’s death, citizens in southern Minneapolis set fires, vandalized property, and ransacked stores; protestors set off fireworks and threw water bottles and rocks at police officers.
Police responded with force, retaliating with rubber bullets, flash bombs and tear gas to push them back; gunshots were heard early Thursday morning leading to another fatality.
Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota took to Twitter late Wednesday night to express grievances over the protests’ evolution into an “extremely dangerous situation” and to ask for cooperation in allowing firefighters and paramedics onto the scene. Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis responded as well, pleading for protestors to “help in keeping the peace tonight.”
Since Floyd’s murder, many celebrities have expressed their grief regarding this act of violence.
“This is what it means to be Black in America. Tried. Convicted. Killed for being black,” said How To Get Away With Murder starlet Viola Davis.
This is what it means to be Black in America. Tried. Convicted. Killed for being Black. We are dictated by hundreds of years of policies that have restricted our very existence and still have to continue to face modern day lynchings. Here's the thing......https://t.co/U0EfytNwdg pic.twitter.com/IimJn3RXlk— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 26, 2020
NBA star LeBron James also spoke up, posting an image of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem alongside a picture of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck on Instagram with the caption: “This is Why. Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke.”
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Many believe that Floyd’s death is an echo of Eric Garner’s, and although years have passed since his death, the subjection of Black Americans to police brutality remains very much alive.
According to Mapping Police Violence, 99% of killings by police officers, between 2013 and 2019, have not resulted in any officers being charged with a crime
Currently, the investigation being led by the FBI and the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis states that ‘officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements.’
But the validity of this investigation remains questionable due to overlooked past acts of police brutality, including several cases where Chauvin has played a central role.
In light of George Floyd’s death, a GoFundMe set up on Wednesday to cover funeral costs has surpassed $1,000,000 and drew in 46,000 donors.
In a statement uploaded onto the GoFundMe page by his brother, Philonise Floyd, he stated “from the bottom of our hearts my family thanks each of you who have reached out. While we are not able to respond to each expression of love at this time, please know that we love and appreciate each and every one of you. Our hearts are overwhelmed!”