On May 25, a 46-year-old ‘black’ man, George Floyd was reportedly murdered by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the former’s neck for 7 long minutes until his body became unresponsive. A shopkeeper had called the cops on Floyd for allegedly trying to pass a ‘potential counterfeit bill’. On being taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center, he was pronounced dead.
The viral cell phone video captured by a pedestrian, who repeatedly objected to the action of Chauvin shows the cop trying to choke the black man with his knee. Despite the victim complaining about not being able to breathe, coupled with verbal protest from onlookers, the said officer was unmoved.
Despite incriminating evidence, a police statement said that although Floyd appeared in medical distress, he did not mention that the weight of the cop blocked his airway. Surveillance footage showed that the victim did not resist arrest while he was handcuffed, contrary to the claims of the police. The murder of Floyd has raised questions of racism and lack of police sensitisation on social media.
#Minneapolis: Video showing the brutal arrest of George Floyd, who later died. So sad. Rest in peace 🌹#GeorgeFloyd #GeorgeFloydWasMurdered #GeorgeFloydprotest #George #GeorgeLloyd #GeorgeFloydMurder #George_Floyd #GeorgeFloydrip #Corona #coronavirus #COVID__19 #Covid_19 #COVID pic.twitter.com/080z3PALEE— Faruk Firat (@FarukFirat1987) May 27, 2020
Officers had a questionable history
According to a Fox News report, in his 19 years of job as a police officer, Chauvin had 10 conduct complaints against him, excluding three police shootings. But, no action was ever taken against him. The other officer seen in the viral video, Thao, also has a lawsuit against him, besides cases of police brutality.
The Minneapolis Police Department had removed Derek Chauvin along with 3 officers, namely, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who were at the spot. Mayor Jacob Frey conceded that it was the right thing to do. He added, “Why is the man who killed George Floyd, not in jail? We cannot turn a blind eye, it is on us as leaders to see this for what it is and call it what it is.”
Reportedly, the questionable behaviour of the officers went unabated. Chauvin had a lawsuit against him for violating the constitutional rights of a prisoner. He has been involved in police shootings and had been subjected to three reviews from the Civilian Review Authority for the use of ‘demeaning language.’ Thao, too, has been the subject of a lawsuit for brutally beating up a handcuffed man, besides kneeling on his face and body. The victim was left with bruises and trauma.
Riots in Minneapolis after George Floyd killing
On Tuesday, hundreds of protestors hit the streets to protest against the killing of George Floyd. The demonstration continued outside the nearby police precinct. Soon, the protest took a violent turn. On Wednesday night, Police cars were vandalised and pelted with rocks. To pacify the situation, the cops resorted to firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the frenzied mob.
Windows of unmanned stores were broken. Shops were raided and looted, all in the garb of a peaceful protest. Home goods such as rugs and coffee makers were stolen and stores were set ablaze. Amidst the chaos, a ‘looter’ was also shot dead by the police. The mob also breached the security and reached for the police precinct in the neighbourhood where Floyd died. The building was set of fire by the unruly mob, amidst slogans demanding justice for the victim.
Protesters breached the Minneapolis police precinct in the neighborhood where George Floyd died in police custody, setting fire to the building as dozens watched it burn late Thursday https://t.co/MJ0JibRJFh pic.twitter.com/nV535R5sVL— TIME (@TIME) May 29, 2020
Donald Trump warns rioters
US President Donald Trump on Friday warned ‘Radical Left’ Mayor Jacob Frey to stop the riots in the city and bring the law and order situation under control. He said, “I cannot stand back and watch this happen to a great American city, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership.”
….These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
Trump had decided to send the National Guard to tame the ‘thugs’ who are dishonouring the memory of the victim. He further assured Governor Tim Waltz that the military is with him. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” the US President cautioned the rioters.
UN takes note of George Floyd case
The UN rights chief on Thursday condemned the death in police custody of George Floyd, demanding that US authorities take “serious action” to stop the killings of unarmed African Americans.
“This is the latest in a long line of killings of unarmed African Americans by US police officers and members of the public,” Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
“I am dismayed to have to add George Floyd’s name to that of Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and many other unarmed African Americans who have died over the years at the hands of the police,” she said.
She further said that US authorities must take serious action to stop such killings.
Protests spread to New York, 40 arrested
At least 40 people were arrested in New York City as people took to the streets to protest against the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis.
Over 100 people gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square on Thursday afternoon to express their anger over what they called police brutality that led to George Floyd’s death.