Violent protests erupted across the United States, from East to West Coast, late Friday over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of a White policeman. The officer apparently responsible for George Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, has finally been fired from the police and charged with third degree murder and manslaughter but it has not calmed the agitated public.
In a rare display of widespread public mood, riots have spread from East to West Coast with scenes of young men and women – both black and white – clashing with police and National Guards. Trump’s comments, “When looting begins, then shootings begin” have further fuelled the public sentiments. This may becoming a defining moment in an Election year.
How George Floyd killed?
George Floyd, a black man in the United States, recently died due to police brutality at the hands of a white police officer named Derek Chauvin.
Prosecutors wrote that Floyd complied with orders from police officers to leave his vehicle, but did not “voluntarily” get in their squad car. “While standing outside the car, Mr. Floyd began saying and repeating that he could not breathe,” they wrote.
Floyd was soon brought to the ground. One officer held Floyd’s back, another his legs, as Chauvin placed his left on Floyd’s neck. Floyd repeated, “I can’t breathe,” “Mama,” and “please,” as the minutes went by.
The medical examiner noted Mr Floyd had underlying heart conditions and the combination of these, “potential intoxicants in his system” and being restrained by the officers “likely contributed to his death”.
The report says Mr Chauvin had his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds – almost three minutes of which was after Mr Floyd became non-responsive.
Nearly two minutes before he removed his knee the other officers checked Mr Floyd’s right wrist for a pulse and were unable to find one. He was taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance and pronounced dead around an hour later.
Protests against Floyd’s death spreading across United States
Demonstrators clashed with police for a fourth straight night in the midwestern city of Minneapolis, where fires raged and there was widespread looting as well as sustained cat-and-mouse clashes between protesters and police. But protests are no more localised to Minneapolis or midwest; they have taken hold in a swathe of cities including Boston, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Houston, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Portland. From East coast to West, there is hardly a city not touched in some way. Demonstrators have appeared outside White House and Trump’s earlier comments warning the protesters of consequences have not helped the matter.
US President Donald Trump had earlier ordered soldiers prepare to deploy to the city, Minnesota National Guard Major General Jon Jensen confirmed early Saturday. National Guards have since then been deployed with chaotic scenes, rarely observed in the United States, being shared across twitter.
— Jenan Moussa (@jenanmoussa) May 30, 2020
The state has become the epicenter of violence since the George Floyd murder there in an arrest by an officer who pinned him to the ground for several minutes by kneeling on his neck.
Derek Chauvin was charged Friday with one count of third-degree murder — unintentionally causing a death — and one count of negligent manslaughter.
“This case is now ready, and we have charged it,” said county prosecutor Mike Freeman as outrage grew over the latest death of an African American in police custody.
But the charges failed to calm a shaken nation whose deep wounds over racial inequality have been torn open anew, with riots raging from New York to Los Angeles in one of the worst nights of civil unrest in years.
In Atlanta police cruisers were attacked and set ablaze as rallies spun out of control, while in the capital Washington protesters collided with Secret Service agents in heated midnight scenes in front of the White House.
Protests took hold in a swathe of cities including Boston, Dallas, Denver, Des Moines, Houston, Las Vegas, Memphis, and Portland.
There were even protests outside the White House, to urge President Trump to take action.
Minneapolis under curfew after unending riots over George Floyd’s death
Authorities imposed a curfew Friday in Minneapolis after three nights of protests left parts of the city in flames.
But the demonstrators, many wearing masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, defiantly remained on the streets, facing off with police who fired tear gas and flashbangs in efforts to regain control.
Looting was widespread, with images showing people coming out of shops carrying armfuls of goods.
Officers were shot at by protesters, Minnesota’s governor Tim Walz told reporters early Saturday.
“This is not about George’s death. This is not about inequities that were real. This is about chaos,” he said.
But that view was not shared on the streets. “I need you to look in my eyes and feel me,” said protester Naeema Jakes. “This is pain, this is hurt.”
Family wants tougher charges for officer responsible for Floyd’s death
Floyd’s relatives — who spoke Friday with President Trump — welcomed news of the officer’s arrest as a “step on the road to justice.”
But they said they hoped for tougher charges and action against the other officers involved in Floyd’s detention and death.
“We want a first-degree murder charge. And we want to see the other officers arrested.
— XTRA (@XTRARADIO) May 28, 2020
“The pain that the black community feels over this murder and what it reflects about the treatment of black people in America is raw and is spilling out onto streets across America,” they said in a statement.
Freeman said the three other officers present when Floyd died were also under investigation, and that he anticipated charges would be laid against them.
All four were fired from the police department Tuesday after video surfaced of the arrest.
Officer charged with Floyd’s murder has home vandalized
Protesters gathered outside the vandalized Minneapolis home of Chauvin, the officer charged with George Floyd’s murder on Friday, raising placards to passing cars and chanting Floyd’s name.
“All I can do is just cry, and cry some more,” Tara Balian, 39, told AFP. “It’s taken this long for people to realize that black lives matter.”
Several protesters chanted “I can’t breathe” — Floyd’s words as Chauvin’s knee pressed on his neck.
Trump, after attacking the protesters as “thugs” and threatening to send in federal troops to deal harshly with them, shifted tone Friday, announcing he had called Floyd’s family to express his “sorrow.”
“I understand the hurt, I understand the pain. People have really been through a lot,” said the president, who stands accused of stoking tensions with a series of provocative tweets.
I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right…..
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
Former vice president Joe Biden, who is challenging Trump for the White House in November’s election, also spoke to Floyd’s family.
He called for justice and said it was time to heal the “open wound” of systemic racism in the United States.
Ugly Racism and Police brutality: America’s Historical Faultline
Three years ago Timothy Caughman, a black man, was stabbed to death in a racially motivated terror attack in the US.
A 23-year-old American Sikh, Angad Singh, paid tribute to him by spending the day tying his turban in New York’s Times Square as a protest against racism. Singh said that he was upset at the way the media was covering Caughman’s death by asking questions like if he had a criminal record.
The country’s current president, Donald Trump, has also been accused of racism in the past.
After lawmakers raised the issue of protections for immigrants from African nations, Haiti and El Salvador, the president reportedly demanded to know why the United States should accept immigrants from “shithole countries,” rather than — for instance — wealthy and overwhelmingly white Norway.
The US is in a constant battle with racism against minorities, such as Muslims, African Americans and Hispanic people. This racism, as is quite evident, comes not only from civilians, but also from people in public office and institutions such as the police.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk