Photo Essay: Demonstrators Promise ‘No Justice, No Peace’ As They Protest George Floyd’s Death While in Police Custody

Nicole Rojas
May 27, 2020 - 4:51

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Demonstrators took to the streets of Minneapolis on May 26 to protest the brutal and unnecessary death of George Floyd while in police custody. Those demonstrators were met with a violent response from riot gear-clad police, which used tear gas and “foam marking rounds” against protesters. 

Floyd, who was Black, was violently arrested at the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South the previous evening as officers allegedly responded to a report of a forgery. They claimed the 46-year-old “physically resisted” officers yet private security video secured by The Washington Post show Floyd complying with officers. 

A chain portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the arrest of Floyd who died in police custody Monday night in Minneapolis after video shared online by a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

A 10-minute Facebook live video showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he was handcuffed on the ground. Floyd can be heard begging with the officer because he couldn’t breathe. “Please, I can’t breathe,” he’s heard saying. “…My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts.”

Minutes later, Floyd went limp. An incident report revealed that by the time Minneapolis Fire Department personnel checked on Floyd, he was unresponsive and pulseless. Less than an hour later, Floyd was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center. 

The four officers involved in the incident, identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Keung, were fired and the FBI launched an investigation into the incident. Floyd’s family and protesters are now calling for their arrests.

Protesters gather at Chicago Ave. and East 38 th Street in South Minneapolis Tuesday, May 26, 2020 after the death of George Floyd. A bystander video that started circulating sometime after the incident appeared to show the man pleading with officers that he couldn’t breathe. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)
People gather at a police precinct during a protest for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of the black man who died in police custody were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)

Demonstrators filled the intersection where Floyd was killed, chanting “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace.” They were met by a violent response from the city, which deployed police in riot gear to disperse the crowds. 

Protesters march after a rally to call for justice for George Floyd on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis. Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
Protesters and police face each other during a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of the black man who died in police custody were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)

On the night of May 26, city councilmember Jeremiah Ellison tweeted that he was at the protest helping demonstrators who had been hurt by smoke bombs or tear gas, calling it a “disgusting display.” Ellison noted he was helping demonstrators with milk, water and towels. 

“So far, I have been unable to prevent the police from firing indiscriminately into the crowd,” he added. “Moments ago, I held a towel to a teenage girls head as blood poured from it.” 

Milk drains from the face of a protester who had been exposed to percussion grenades and tear gas outside the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis. Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (Carlos Gonzalez/Star Tribune via AP)

Ellison later tweeted that he agreed with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that many politicians are afraid of the political prowess of the police. 

“Even in a progressive city, this is repeatedly true,” Ellison wrote. “The police and their loud supporters DEMAND no accountability and threaten that any attempts at it will result in more crime. I am regularly accused of ‘hating’ the police for even the most basic calls for accountability.” 

Police officers deploy to disperse protesters gathered for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of the black man who died in police custody were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)
A police officer throws a tear gas canister towards protesters at the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, following a rally for George Floyd on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis. Four Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of Floyd, a black man who died in police custody, were fired Tuesday, hours after a bystander’s video showed an officer kneeling on the handcuffed man’s neck, even after he pleaded that he could not breathe and stopped moving. (Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP)

In a press conference on May 27, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for Chauvin to be arrested and charged in Floyd’s death. “Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” Frey said. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now. And I cannot come up with a good answer to that question.” 

Frey added that he was moved to call for charges after watching the video of Floyd’s death. “We watched for five whole excruciating minutes as a white officer firmly pressed his knee into the neck of an unarmed handcuffed Black man,” he said, according to The Star-Tribune. “I saw no threat. I saw nothing that would signal that this kind of force was necessary.” 

Ellison said that he agrees with Frey’s call for Chauvin’s arrest, but added all four men should be taken into custody. He called on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to make that decision.

Three women join hands and pray around a makeshift memorial, Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis, near where a black man, who was taken into police custody the day before, later died. The FBI and Minnesota agents are investigating the death of a black man in Minneapolis police custody after video from a bystander showed a white officer kneeling on his neck during his arrest as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

Action Steps

  • Call this hotline (612) 324-4499 to learn how to contact those in office who could seek justice. Shaun King will be on the other line to coach you through. Be sure to share that number on all your social media accounts.
  • Visit JusticeForBigFloyd.com to sign a petition which will then be emailed to everyone involved. We ask that you share the petition along with the phone number. 

A previous version of this story had an incorrect spelling for one of the officer’s involved. It has been corrected.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.

8 Replies to “Photo Essay: Demonstrators Promise ‘No Justice, No Peace’ As They Protest George Floyd’s Death While in Police Custody”

  1. Credit where credit is due: Thank you to President Trump for tweeting that “Justice will be served”. Unlike Barack Obama who invited a rogue cop to the White House for beer, pretzels, and a photo-op with himself and Joe Biden.
    Thank you to Mayor Frey of Minneapolis for promptly firing the officers involved. Criminal “Manslaughter” and accessories” charges to follow, I hope.
    Unlike NYC’s Mayor De Blasio who dithered for five-5-years while trying to find an excuse not to fire the white officer who choked Eric Garner to death. I suspect that De Blasio looks for situations where he can send his gestapo cops against a community that reminds him of a mistake he made in his rebel youth that he has had to live with ever since.

  2. If we have any EMTs or people with medical training reading: how do you treat getting hit with tear gas on the scene? If anyone’s arrested in protests are any resources available to them?

  3. Maevel:
    After the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, I remember seeing a message sent by Palestinians in Gaza that advised that pouring milk over your face will take the sting out of tear gas. If anybody would know, they would know.

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