Protests and demonstrations have been going on over the past week in several parts of the United States. All these are a response to the recent death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died at the hands of the police on Monday.
In cities like Minneapolis, they have even turned violent, with angry crowds looting business and burning buildings.
The death of another unarmed black man in police custody has triggered nationwide protests and has again brought to light the racism prevalent in the United States.
Who Was George Floyd?
Georgy Floyd lived in St.Louis, which is a Minneapolis suburb. Growing up in Houston, Floyd was a star high school athlete playing basketball.
Receiving a scholarship to play in college, Floyd continued to play at a community college in Florida
Known as “Big Floyd” by his teammates, the 6-foot-7-inch with a heavy build was known as a calm person. His friend Cyril N. White described him as “Gentle giant, gentle giant,” and that “He was a natural comedian, a life-of-the-party type guy, real easy going.”
At the time of his death, he was looking to train to become a truck driver and was happily living in Minneapolis.
The Entire Issue Explained
It all started when George Floyd went on a grocery run to Cup Foods on Chicago Avenue South around 8 p.m. Around the same time, the police got a tip from the store clerk that a “forgery was in progress”. Someone was trying to buy groceries with a counterfeit $20 bill
From here on, surveillance footage recounts the horror that went on at the store, which ultimately cost George Floyd his life. It shows Floyd sitting in a black van with 2 other people when two officers walk up to the car and flash their torches inside the car.
The other officer is seen approaching Floyd, asking him to get out of the car. After a brief struggle, the man exits the vehicle.
After that, Floyd gets handcuffed and is led to the side of a building by the cops. Throughout the episode, while George Floyd is seen talking to the cops, there seem to be no signs of struggle.
What happens next is the foundation of the protests being seen around the country. A viral video shot by bystander Darnella Frazier shows Floyd already pinned down by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is pinning down his knee onto Floyd’s neck, while he lies down on the road with his hands cuffed.
During the altercation, George Floyd is seen pleading several times that he can’t breathe, requested the police officer to take his knee of his neck. Several bystanders can also be seen pleading to the officer to let go. Donald Williams, a bystander to the incident claimed that he told that officer that “'officer, he's not resisting arrest, you have your knee on him and you have handcuffs on him, he's detained at this moment,'"
Another officer is heard saying “Get up, get in the car,” with George Floyd responding “I will, I can’t move,”
For around 4 minutes, Floyd can be seen pleading to the officer to get off his neck. However, the officer ignores his calls. Soon after, George Floyd stops moving altogether. Even after he stops moving, the officer can be seen with his knee placed firmly on Floyd’s neck for about 3 minutes after that.
Following which the Police called the EMT which arrived at the scene in 6 minutes, where they found Floyd to be unconscious and unresponsive. The Minneapolis Fire Department’s report shed more light on what exactly happened when they came to the scene of the incident .“Medics performed pulse checks several times, finding none, and delivered one shock by their monitor. [Floyd’s] condition did not change,” the report said.
While it is reported that the medics tried to revive George Floyd for about an hour, he was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. at a local hospital.
What The Police Says On The Death Of George Floyd
Before the video by Frazier was released, police had claimed that George Floyd “suffered a medical episode while struggling with officers,”.
The incident further pointed towards a case of racism against the community when it came to light that the police officer in question, Derek Chauvin, has had at least a dozen complaints registered against him
Initially, the police had also claimed that Floyd "physically resisted officers." However, looking back at the video, there seems to be no evidence of that.
The accounts of the police also conflict with those that were witness to the incident. One eye witness at the grocery story recounted that when he saw George Floyd, he was already on the ground and “panting for his breath”. Several other eyewitnesses have corroborated this claim, saying that they did not see any sort of resistance at all.
What Is Happening Currently?
The 4 officers in question have been suspended after the events came to light. Fired police officer Derek Chauvin was finally arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter 4 days after Georgy Floyd's death. Meanwhile, the FBI has announced that it would be investigating the incident in a joint probe with the state police. It has also opened a civil rights investigation into the incident.
President Donald Trump has been equally vocal about the incident online. He initially tweeted giving an update about the status of the investigation. He also expressed concern at the way the demonstrations turned violent. "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership," Trump wrote on Twitter.
However, his recent tweets have created controversy. Speaking on the violence engulfing the city, he tweeted "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". This, however, flagged off Twitter’s community guidelines, with the social media platform considering the statement to be glorifying violence. It has subsequently been blocked by Twitter
Over the last few days, angry protestors have taken to the streets of Minneapolis, targeting local stores and the police precinct. The protests began on Tuesday afternoon when people took to the streets to express their solidarity with George Floyd. Peaceful demonstrations with protestors chanting "I can't breathe" and "It could've been me".
By Thursday night, incidents of looting, vandalism and arson had resulted in damage to many businesses. Rioters set fire to several chain stores, including Autozone. while a Target store was looted as well, with people smashing windows, dismantling the equipment and taking what they could from inside.
After the violence got out of control, prompted Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz had to activate the National Guard to restore peace in the city.
The incident again brings to light the growing threat the black community faces at hands of the police. A Washington post database reveals that black people accounted for 23 per cent of the people killed by law enforcement in 2019, while they only formed 13 per cent of the population.