Protests Erupt in Minneapolis After Police Killing of George Floyd
Protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday in protest of the police killing of George Floyd on Monday. Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died during an arrest for forgery on the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South. A video that went viral on social media shows a police offer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd pleads, “I can’t breathe.” The killing has drawn comparisons to the death of Eric Garner in 2014, which sparked the hashtag #ICantBreathe.
Video Contradicts Initial Police Statement
According to a statement released by Minneapolis Police, officers responded around 8:00 pm to reports of a forgery in progress. The suspect, according to the report, was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.
The report initially claimed that Floyd suffered from “medical distress.”
“Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”
The report states that no weapons were used by either Floyd or the officers involved.
Later, video footage released by a bystander and security footage from a nearby business contradicted the official account.
The security footage shows the officers approaching the car and three people, inducing Floyd, being removed and questioned by police. Floyd appears to be upset, although cooperating with the officers. After getting the information of the other two individuals, Floyd is escorted across the street to the police car in handcuffs.
Later, bystander footage from near the police car shows a different officer than the arresting officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd struggles to breathe. The officers can be heard telling Floyd to “Get up and get in the car,” while he is pinned down against the pavement.
“I will, I can’t move,” Floyd responded. “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts. I need some water or something. Please, officer, I can’t breathe.”
Floyd can later be heard saying, “They gonna kill me, man.”
Bystanders in the video can be heard asking the officers to stop, telling them it’s not right, and saying he’s not resisting. “He is human, bro,” one bystander begs to the police.
The officers call for an ambulance, and when the medic arrives Floyd is unconscious. He was moved to a stretcher and taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Community Responds to Killing
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Minneapolis on Tuesday in response to the slaying. Protesters marched two miles from the site of the arrest to the MPD 3rd Precinct building. Officers dressed in riot gear formed a barrier around the Precinct and used tear gas, smoke bombs, rubber bullets, and flash grenades against the largely peaceful protesters. There were many children in the crowd.
Some protesters threw rocks and bricks at police cars and smashed windows. One officer was reportedly injured in the riots, and there are currently no reports of protesters being arrested.
On Tuesday, the Mayor of Minneapolis tweeted that the four officers involved in the incident had been fired. The names of the officers have not been officially released.
According to a statement by the Minnesota Public Safety Department, the FBI “is conducting a separate federal civil rights investigation at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.” The officers involved are said to be fully cooperating with the investigation.
A Holiday Weekend of Racial Tension
Memorial Day was marked by high racial tensions across the country. The unrest started with a video of an interaction between a white woman and a black man in Central Park, NYC. The video showed the woman, later identified as Amy Cooper, calling the police on the man, Christian Cooper (no relation).
Christian Cooper asked Amy to leash her dog in accordance with park rules. “Look, if you’re going to do what you want, I’m going to do what I want,” he told Cooper, “but you’re not going to like it.” He then tried to call her dog towards him, reaching into his pocket.
“I’m going to tell them there’s an African American man threatening my life,” Amy Cooper told Christian. She called the police and became upset on the phone, “I’m being threatened by a man into the Ramble. Please send the cops immediately!”
When the police arrived, no arrests were made.
The video of their interaction went viral on social media and led to Cooper being fired from her job at an investment company. Amy Cooper has since apologized and Christian Cooper has spoken out in her defense, expressing sympathy and saying he is “uncomfortable” with the threats and harassment she has received.
“If our goal is to change the underlying factors,” he told the New York Times, “I am not sure that this young woman having her life completely torn apart serves that goal.”