In a tragic turn of events, a Minneapolis man by the name of George Floyd lost his life while detained in police custody during the evening hours of Monday, May 25th.
Authorities were initially contacted after 46-year-old Floyd, a resident of St. Louis Park, Minn., allegedly passed off a counterfeit 20 dollar bill at a local grocery store.
Although the events leading up to Floyd’s detainment are still coming to light, a surveillance video from the Dragon Wok, a Chinese take-out restaurant across the street, also surfaced showing Floyd being detained. In the six minute video, Floyd can be seen being taken from a vehicle, handcuffed, and brought to a police cruiser down the street. During this time, there seems to be no indication that Floyd resisted his arrest or became violent with the arresting officers.
As the situation progressed, subscribers on various social media platforms went into an uproar after a hand shot video surfaced showing an officer of the Minneapolis Police Department kneeling on the motionless Floyd’s neck for upwards of five minutes. During this time, Floyd can be heard pleading with the officer saying, “Don’t kill me,” and “I can’t breathe.”
The video also confirmed that three other Minneapolis police officers were present as the arresting officer held Floyd to the ground. All of whom have since been fired, according to a statement made by police chief Medaria Arradondo, who referred to them as “former employees” in a press conference held on Tuesday afternoon.
The arresting officer held his place on Floyd’s neck until paramedics arrived on the scene. Video footage shows an unresponsive Floyd being rolled onto a gurney and loaded into and ambulance. According to an article put out by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “By the time George Floyd was en route to the hospital Monday evening, he was unresponsive and without a pulse.”
Paramedics spent roughly the next hour trying to resuscitate Floyd to no avail. In commenting on the situation, Hennepin Health Care EMS Chief Marty Scheerer was quoted as saying, “He still had an outside chance… Even if it’s a super long shot, you’ve got to try your best.”
Despite the intervention of medical professionals, George Floyd was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center Monday evening at 9:25 PM.
According to the Star Tribune, “A Hennepin County medical examiner report was inconclusive about Floyd’s exact cause and manner of death, “pending further testing and investigation.”
The hashtag “#justiceforgeorgefloyd” began to erupt on the internet and public demonstrations broke out on the streets Tuesday. To many, this event was just another act of police brutality against a member of the African American community. As such, proponents of the “Black Lives Matter” movement sought to make their voices heard as they toted signs, blocked off streets and gathered around the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct–the Precinct where these four officers were formerly employed.
As details about the Floyd case became more widespread, Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey, held a press conference on Wednesday to address the evolving situation. Although Mayor Frey was hesitant to discuss the fine details of the case with the press at the time of the conference, he did express deep remorse for the events that transpired in the death of George Floyd, and called on Hennepin county attorney, Mike Freeman, to “act on the evidence before him.” He is quoted as saying “I’m calling on him (Freeman) to charge the arresting officer in this case.”
Before taking questions, Mayor Frey ended his speech by saying that, “George Floyd Deserves Justice, his family deserves justice, the black community deserves justice, and our city deserves justice.”
Amid Mayor Frey’s call for justice, protesters took to the streets once again to enact their own form of “justice.” As the day progressed, the protests went from having a relatively peaceful premise, to escalating into a full-blown riot.
Authorities were eventually dispatched and equipped with rubber bullets and tear gas, as they attempted to break up the mobs. Pictures began to surface online of individuals pouring milk on their faces in response to tear gas deployment.
Soon, crowds began swarming the Minneapolis 3rd Precinct again with more of an aggressive intent. Windows were smashed, vehicles were greatly vandalized, and police property was defaced.
Minneapolis locals began to describe the escalating situation as something of a “War Zone,” rather than a peaceful protest. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz referred to it as “an extremely dangerous situation,” and encouraged citizens to avoid the area.
As the day progressed, rioters took to looting and vandalizing local businesses. The Target store located off of East Lake Street was hit especially hard when individuals began to enter the store, destroy property, and steal product in large quantities.
According to Danielle Schumann, a spokeswoman for Target, the decision had been made earlier in the day “to close [the] Lake Street store” and preparations were made “to ensure all… team members were accounted for and safe.”
There were also reports of violence and unfair treatment of individuals standing by.
An Autozone, located across the street from the Precinct was also vandalized and set on fire. Officials were concerned that the chemicals found in the store may pose the threat of explosion if ignited and warned individuals to stay clear of the building.
Fires throughout the area blazed through the night as a local Wendy’s, a cellphone store, and an affordable housing building that was under construction were brought up in flames as well.
Mayor Frey took to Twitter early Thursday, shortly after the midnight hour, to plead with individuals to not “let tragedy beget more tragedy.” He also stated that “The area along Lake has become unsafe. We are asking for your help in keeping the peace tonight.”
Currently, at the order of Governor Walz, the Minnesota National Guard has been activated and is ready to assist in the response to these demonstrations.
As news of the George Floyd has traveled across the country, protests have also broken out in states such as Tennessee and California.
President Donald Trump has also weighed in on the Floyd case, taking to Twitter with the request that the FBI and Department of Justice begin an investigation of the case.