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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 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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
- 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.