Protests Over Deadly Arrest of a Black Man Rock US
Protests erupted across the United States on Thursday night as anger over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, intensified, with some demonstrators gaining access to a police precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and setting sections of the building on fire.
On Monday, Floyd died after a white Minneapolis police officer used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for several minutes.
A video of the incident shows Floyd pleading with officers, saying, “I can’t breathe” before going motionless with the officer’s knee still on his neck.
The four officers connected were quickly fired, but Floyd’s family, community heads, and citizens were asking for arrests.
“These policemen, they need to be restrained right now, we want justice,” Philonese Floyd, George’s brother, told Cable News Network on Thursday.
Hundreds of protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis for a third night on Thursday, demanding justice and an end to police violence. “Say his name. George Floyd,” protesters chanted. “I can’t breathe.”
Video shared on social media showed protesters stopping their march at one point, kneeling and raising a fist in a moment of silence.
As the sunset, a massive fire could be seen near the third precinct of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). A live video stream by Unicorn Riot, an independent media organization, showed protesters eventually entering the precinct and alarms and sprinklers going off as some rooms were set ablaze. Police could not be seen in the building, and the MPD did not immediately report that police had retreated.
The City of Minneapolis urged protesters to retreat from the area over unconfirmed reports that gas lines had been cut.
“We hear unconfirmed reports that gas lines to the Third Precinct are cut, and other explosive substances are within the building,” the town tweeted. “If you’re near the building, for your protection, PLEASE RETREAT within the event the building explodes.
“Protesters outside the police building might be heard yelling: “We’re sick and uninterested in being sick and tired.” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called within the US National Guard on Thursday to support local authorities as the protests escalated.
Earlier on Thursday, a small group of protesters “occupied” space outside the home of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who will handle the case, to demand criminal charges for the four officers – identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng – involved.
“We aren’t going anywhere until Mike Freeman prosecutes and charges the officers,” protesters said during a Facebook Live video, with a minimum of one tent put abreast of the sidewalk outside the county attorney’s home.
Freeman’s office said in a statement on Tuesday it was “shocked and saddened by what appeared in a recent video.” It said it might choose prosecution after it receives the finished findings of the investigations by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and, therefore, the FBI.
Freeman said on Thursday, his office would work through the case “as expeditiously, as thoroughly as justice demands.” “We just can’t rush this,” Freeman said. “These need to be done right. Please give me and provides me us attorney time to try to do this right and that we will bring you justice.”
Thursday’s protest followed similar demonstrations in Minneapolis that have taken place for the last two days. Floyd’s death has been compared with that of Eric Garner, an unarmed Black man who died in 2014 after police put him in a chokehold. Some of Garner’s last words were: “I can’t breathe.”
While the protests have started peaceful, they have descended into chaos with reports of looting, arson, and vandalism. Police have used tear gas and non-lethal projectiles to disperse the crowds, drawing anger from residents.
Protests also occurred on Thursday in cities across the US, including Columbus, Ohio, Oakland, California, and New York City, where dozens of people were reportedly arrested.
Hundreds also rallied in Louisville, Kentucky, to protest against police brutality and draw attention to the killing of Breonna Taylor. She was shot dead by police in March as they served a search warrant. At least seven people were shot at the protest, police said on Thursday. One person is in critical condition, and no arrests have been made, police said.
In Denver, Colorado, hundreds of people descended on the state capitol. Police confirmed that shots were fired near the area where the protest was taking place. It is unclear if the shootings were related to the rally. Police said there had been no immediate reports of injuries.
Several more protests are scheduled for Friday and over the weekend. Meanwhile, several prominent activists and sports stars took to Twitter to express outrage over Floyd’s death and support for those protesting.
Rights activist and former National League player Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee during the anthem at US football games to protest police brutality, tweeted: “We need to fight back!”
“When civility ends in death, revolting is that the only reasonable reaction,” Kaepernick stated in support of the protesters.
In a joint statement on Thursday, US Attorney Erica MacDonald and FBI agent responsible Rainer Drolshagen said the US Department of Justice had made the investigation into Floyd’s death a “top priority.”
US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly been accused of stoking racial tensions, on Thursday said he and his administration are “very much involved.”
He said the video of Floyd’s arrest was a “very shocking sight,” but he declined to mention whether he believed the officers should be charged.
In the early hours of Friday morning, Trump called the protesters to participate in any looting and set fires “thugs” and warned the military “will assume control” if needed.
Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey, called for the arrest of the officer who pinned Floyd down, said on Thursday the city’s anger is “not only understandable, it’s right.”
‘What we have seen over the last two days and therefore the emotion-ridden conflict over the last night is that the results of such a lot built-up anger and sadness … that has been instilled in our Black community – not only because of the five minutes of hate, except for 400 years,” he said.
“At this point, it’s status quo,” Minneapolis resident Bile said. “And established order within the center of the outbreak when we’ve been disproportionately wrecked by everything that’s been occurring on top of the current inconsistency, we are being strangle.”