Nyma E., Senior Reporter
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was murdered by a Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Although Floyd and multiple bystanders repeatedly told Chauvin that Floyd was unable to breathe, Chauvin did not get off of Floyd’s neck, which led to Floyd suffocating and dying while in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department. Protests have erupted across the country due to racial injustice demonstrated by this incident and many others. Many of these peaceful protests have turned very violent, prompting the police and National Guard to get involved.
A video was taken of Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, pinning his knee down on George Floyd’s neck has sparked outrage across the United States and the world. On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year old black man, was arrested after supposedly using a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill at a deli to buy cigarettes. Officials claimed that Floyd was resisting arrest, however, video and security footage tells a different story. Video shows Chauvin pinning his knee down on Floyd’s neck while two other officers also knelt on Floyd’s body while he was gasping for air. In the video, Floyd can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe, man. Please let me stand. Please, man.”, while many onlookers beg Chauvin to take his knee off of Floyd’s neck. Two minutes before Chauvin took his knee off of his neck, Floyd’s pulse was checked, but no pulse was found and Floyd was found to be unresponsive. An autopsy has revealed that Floyd died from “asphyxiation from sustained pressure”, making Floyd’s death a homicide. Just seventeen minutes after the first police car arrived on the scene, George Floyd showed no signs of life.
All four officers involved have been fired, Chauvin was taken into custody and is being faced with third-degree murder and manslaughter charges. The other three officers have not been arrested.
Derek Chauvin and George Floyd were once coworkers; they worked overlapping shifts at El Nuevo Rodeo Club, a nightclub in Minneapolis. Floyd and Chauvin sometimes worked overlapping shifts on Tuesdays. Floyd worked security inside, while Chauvin worked as an undercover cop. Maya Santamaria, the former owner of the club, said that Floyd was known as a very friendly presence around the club. Santamaria also said, “I wouldn’t characterize them as knowing each other,”, however, their paths probably did cross during their overlapping shifts.
The police brutality and racial inequality demonstrated in the video showing George Floyd’s death has sparked protests nationwide. These demonstrators are not only protesting the Death of George Floyd but the oppression and inexcusable deaths of many other African-American people.
Many protests start very peacefully, but escalate and quickly turn into violent riots as the day goes on. In actuality, much of the violence is caused by instigators who have come from out-of-state, not actual protesters. Oftentimes, these instigators have nothing to do with the actual protests and are just there to cause violence and loot businesses. Residents from many U.S. cities have been trying to prevent these people from coming in and starting riots and fires. A majority of the people have been protesting civilly, but those peaceful protests have been overshadowed by the violent riots occurring across the United States. A community activist stated that protesters usually don’t want to be violent, but “nonviolent pleas have gone unnoticed for years”. The peaceful protests have been marked by that chants “I can’t breathe” and “no justice, no peace”. There have also been protests outside of the US; in London, thousands of people gathered at Trafalgar Square to support US protesters.
The violence and riots have resulted in increased police intervention and some states activating their National Guard. In order to disperse crowds, police officers and the National Guard have been using rubber bullets, batons, tear gas, and smoke bombs on crowds of people, sometimes even peaceful protesters. This often aggravates the situation, and many are arguing that police are adding more violence to protests, as they have been increasing their use of force. The mayors of major cities have been setting curfews, but they have been largely ignored. Recently, a video of an NYPD car plowing through a group of protesters started circulating around social media. New York Mayor, Bill de Blasio, said he was upset, but would not “blame” the officers as they “were under a lot of stress”. Police arrested around 4100 people over the weekend due to the protests, and that number will most likely continue to climb.
The damage caused by the riots has been overwhelming. Police cars have been set on fire, many stores have been broken into and looted, and entire streets have been devastated. Many small businesses that have already been hit by the coronavirus are now dealing with damage due to the riots. In Nashville, the historic courthouse was set on fire and a statue of Edward Carmack, a racist politician, was toppled. In Los Angeles, a curfew has been set and the National Guard has been activated due to an overwhelming level of violence and entire streets being looted in Santa Monica.
On the morning of May 29, a CNN crew that was covering the protests was arrested on-air. Officials say that the crew was refusing to move, but the live footage shows that Omar Jimenez, a CNN correspondent showed the police his CNN identification and explained how they were reporters. Jimenez also told the officers multiple times that they would move wherever they [the police] wanted them to. However, the officers arrested all three crew members, giving no explanation as to why. John Campbell was also a part of that crew but was not with them at the time. When Campbell, a white man, showed the police his CNN identification, he was allowed to stay in the area. Omar Jimenez is Black and Latino, Bill Kirkos is white, and Leonel Mendez is Hispanic (these were the three men that were arrested by police).
United States President, Donald Trump, responded to Floyd’s death by saying how “very sad and tragic” the event was. He also asked the F.B.I to investigate Floyd’s death. However, he also called the protesters in Minneapolis “thugs”. When responding to the riots, Trump tweeted “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” This term was used in 1960 by a Miami police Cheif who supported the crackdowns of black neighborhoods.
Notable figures have been using their platforms to speak out about racial injustice. Barack Obama released a statement on the situation which included, “This shouldn’t be “normal” in 2020 America. It can’t be “normal.” If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better”. Presidential candidate, Joe Biden, responded to the situation by condemning the violence, but saying those responsible for Floyd’s death need to be held accountable. Biden said, “Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. But burning down communities and needless destruction is not.”.
I implore you to sign all the petitions you can, donate as much as you can, and speak up about racial injustice.
How To Help
Justice For George Floyd – change.org
Justice For George Floyd – White House
Justice For George Floyd – Amnesty International
Support Black-owned Businesses – Atlanta
https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#donate – Visit this website to find more petitions and places to donate.