The death of George Floyd sparked outcry online and in the streets after a video showing a police officer kneeling on his neck went viral.
Protesters flooded the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26 to protest the death of the Black Minneapolis man. The demonstration began at a Cup Foods store, the site of the fatal encounter, and from there to a local police precinct, according to WCCO-TV.
The 46-year-old who reportedly worked security at Conga Latin Bistro died on Monday night after he was arrested for forgery, a nonviolent offense. In a video taken by a bystander, Officer Derek Chauvin, a white officer, is seen pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while he was lying face down on the pavement. It’s a technique that’s against department regulations, according to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.
The video recorded by a bystander only shows Chauvin and another officer who was speaking to witnesses. However, a picture tweeted by civil rights lawyer Ben Crump shows two more officers were physically restraining the rest of his body. Floyd’s family hired Crump to represent them following his death.
Floyd, who is described by his family as a “gentle giant,” did not physically resist while he was on the ground, but police claimed he’d “physically resisted officers” when they’d arrived to find him at his car. Floyd expressed that he couldn’t breathe and begged Chauvin to get off his neck for several minutes before he passed out. He’d reportedly become unresponsive about four minutes into the video. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Chauvin and three other officers were fired on Tuesday, May 26 after the video went viral.
That same day, during the protest, many people chanted “I can’t breathe” and “It could’ve been me.” The protest started peacefully, but the mood changed once demonstrators arrived at the precinct. A window was broken and squad cars were tagged with graffiti. Officers in riot gear eventually showed up and deployed tear gas and flash grenades to disperse the crowd. Some revelers fled to a Target store and used shopping carts to barricade themselves.
The outrage was palpable online, too. Social media has been flooded with messages from civilians and public figures.
“No more brutality. No more murder. No more hashtags,” tweeted Rep. Ayanna Pressley. “Just justice. May it rain down like a mighty river.”
Activist Shannon Watts highlighted how belligerent white demonstrators are treated compared to their Black counterparts. She posted a video of white California residents who were protesting the state’s COVID-19 rules.
Another critic made a similar point and shared a side-by-side comparison.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II tweeted, “The man went unconscious, but the knee stayed. Until police are prosecuted&found guilty when they commit crimes&abuse the badge by attacking black bodies &leaving the atrocities of black death, the knee will stay on the neck b/c there is no fear to keep it off in the first place.”
“If George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Christian Cooper don’t radicalize you, I don’t know what will,” stated writer Gigi Adams.
Local, state and federal authorities are investigating Floyd’s death. Floyd’s family says they would like to see the officers charged with murder.