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Murder of George Floyd

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Murder of George Floyd
Police officer Derek Chauvin stares into the camera as he kneels on the neck of George Floyd, who is lying on his stomach on the street
Frame from witness video, showing Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck
DateMay 25, 2020; 16 months ago (2020-05-25)
Timec. 8:01–9:25 pm CDT (UTC−5)
LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Coordinates44°56′04″N 93°15′45″W / 44.93433°N 93.26244°W / 44.93433; -93.26244Coordinates: 44°56′04″N 93°15′45″W / 44.93433°N 93.26244°W / 44.93433; -93.26244
TypeMurder, police killing
ChargesJ. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao:
aiding and abetting second-degree murder
Trial
  • MN v. Chauvin 27-CR-20-12646
  • MN v. Thao 27-CR-20-12949
  • MN v. Lane 27-CR-20-12951
  • MN v. Kueng 27-CR-20-12953
VerdictDerek Chauvin:
Guilty on all counts
ConvictionsDerek Chauvin:
second-degree unintentional murder,
third-degree murder, and
second-degree manslaughter[1][2][3]
SentenceDerek Chauvin: 22.5 years in prison
LitigationCivil lawsuit resulting in a $27 million settlement

On Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was murdered near the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota, by Derek Chauvin, a white police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department.[4] Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face-down in the street.[5][6][7] Two other police officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, assisted Chauvin in restraining Floyd. Lane had also pointed a gun to Floyd's head prior to Floyd being put in handcuffs.[8] A fourth police officer, Tou Thao, prevented bystanders from interfering.[9]

Prior to being placed on the ground, Floyd had exhibited signs of anxiety, complaining about having claustrophobia and being unable to breathe.[10] After being restrained he became more distressed, complaining of breathing difficulties and the knee on his neck, and expressing fear of imminent death.[5] After several minutes, Floyd stopped speaking.[5] For the last couple of minutes, he lay motionless and Officer Kueng found no pulse when urged to check.[11][12] Despite this, Chauvin ignored pleas from bystanders to lift his knee until told to do so by paramedics.

The following day, after videos made by witnesses and security cameras became public, all four officers were fired.[13] Two autopsies, and one autopsy review, found Floyd's death to be a homicide.[14][15] Chauvin was later convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.[3][16] Kueng, Lane, and Thao were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.[17] Chauvin's trial began on March 8, 2021, and concluded on April 20, 2021, while the trial of the other three officers is scheduled to begin on March 7, 2022. On March 12, 2021, Minneapolis agreed to pay $27 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Floyd's family. On June 25, 2021, Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.[18]

Floyd's murder led to worldwide protests against police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability.[19][20] In early June, the Minneapolis City Council voted an intent to restructure the police department as a "new community-based system of public safety".[21][22] However, the city council's proposal, which became subject to an indefinite review by the Minneapolis City Charter Commission,[23] failed to make the 2020 general ballot.[24] The Minneapolis Police Chief cancelled contract negotiations with the police union and announced plans to bring in outside experts to examine how the union contract can be restructured to provide transparency and "flexibility for true reform".[25]

People involved

George Floyd

George Perry Floyd Jr. was a black American born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and raised in the Third Ward[26] of Houston, Texas.[27][28][29] In 2014, he moved to the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area.[30] He resided in the nearby suburb of St. Louis Park, and was a frequent customer at the Cup Foods convenience store in Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis.[31]

Derek Chauvin

At the time of Floyd's death, Derek Michael Chauvin, a white American,[32] was a 44-year-old police officer in the Minneapolis Police Department. He had served in the department since 2001.[33][34] Chauvin and Floyd sometimes worked overlapping shifts as security guards for a local nightclub, but the club's former owner was unsure of the extent to which they knew each other.[35][36]

Tou Thao

Tou Thao, a Hmong-American,[37] was age 34 at the time of Floyd's death and started as a part-time community service officer in 2008. He graduated from the police academy in 2009. After a two-year layoff, he resumed work for the police in 2012.[33][38] Six complaints had been filed against Thao, none resulting in disciplinary action. In 2014, a man claimed Thao handcuffed him without cause, threw him to the ground, and punched, kicked, and kneed him; the man's teeth were broken and he was hospitalized.[33][39] The resulting lawsuit was settled for $25,000.[33]

J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane

James Alexander Kueng (age 26 at the time of Floyd's death) and Thomas Kiernan Lane (age 37 at the time of Floyd's death)[40][41][42] were licensed as law enforcement officers in August 2019.[41][43] They had trained together.[44] Chauvin was the superior officer responsible for the majority of Kueng's field training.[44] On May 3, 2020, video of an arrest incident in Minneapolis showed Chauvin, Kueng, Lane, and another officer roughly detaining a man on the ground as bystanders pleaded for the officers to show mercy. Kueng and Lane were with Chauvin as the day was part of their field training. The man, whom they detained wrongfully, said he had trouble breathing, and the incident was later said to be similar to the arrest of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.[45][46] Kueng and Lane were in their first week as Minneapolis police officers when Floyd was killed.[47][40]

After Kueng and Lane were charged with aiding and abetting Floyd's murder, it was revealed that Lane had a criminal record including convictions for obstructing legal process and damaging property when he was 18, and that sections of his police application that referred to his criminal record had been redacted.[48]

Arrest and murder

Initial events

Corner store near site of Floyd's death with crowd of protesters
The intersection of Chicago Avenue and E. 38th Street on May 30. Floyd was killed just left of the awning.

On the evening of May 25, 2020, at sometime before 8:00 pm, Floyd purchased cigarettes at Cup Foods, a grocery store at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis. A store employee believed Floyd had paid with a counterfeit $20 bill.[49][50] Employees of the store approached Floyd while he was in his vehicle[49]: 1:25 [50]: 1:33 [51] and demanded that Floyd return the cigarettes; he refused.[50]: 1:43 [5] A store employee called the police to report that Floyd had passed "fake bills", was "awfully drunk", and "not in control of himself".[49]: 1:33 [50]: 1:51 [a] The interaction between Floyd and the employees was recorded by the restaurant's security camera.[49]: 0:49 [50]: 1:24 [53][b]

External video
video icon Raw police bodycam footage beginning at approximately 8:09 p.m. on YouTube (1 hr 5 mins)

At 8:08, Kueng and Lane arrived, briefly entering Cup Foods before crossing the street to Floyd's SUV,[49]: 1:41 [50]: 2:00  parked in front of a Dragon Wok Minneapolis restaurant. Lane tapped his flashlight on the window, startling Floyd.[54][55] He asked Floyd to show his hands, and tapped again when he did not obey. Floyd apologized as he opened the car door. Lane instructed him three more times to show his hands. Seconds after the door opened, he drew his gun and ordered Floyd to show his hands.[54] When Floyd complied, Lane holstered his weapon.[5][56] Someone parked behind Floyd's SUV began recording a video at 8:10.[49]: 1:56 [50]: 2:28  Following a brief struggle,[49]: 2:10  Lane pulled Floyd from the SUV and handcuffed him.[50]: 2:20  Two other people who were riding in the car with Floyd, including 45-year-old Shawanda Hill, were interrogated. At 8:12, Kueng sat Floyd on the sidewalk against the wall in front of the restaurant.[49]: 2:22 [50]: 2:33  Lane asked Floyd if he was "on something right now", and Floyd replied "No, nothing". Kueng told Floyd he was acting "real erratic" and Floyd said that he was scared. Kueng asked Floyd about foam around his mouth, to which Floyd responded that he had been "hooping"[c] earlier.[58][63][61] Floyd then said he was calming down, and remarked, "I'm feeling better now."[64]

At 8:13,[49]: 2:30  Kueng and Lane told Floyd he was under arrest and walked him to their police car across the street.[7] The officers then leaned him against the car's door.[49]: 2:42 [50]: 3:00  Floyd told the officers that he was not resisting, but that he was recovering from COVID-19, that he was claustrophobic and had anxiety, and that he did not want to sit in the car.[6][7][50]: 3:10 [10] While Kueng and Lane attempted to put him in the car, Floyd begged them not to, repeatedly saying "I can't breathe" and offering to lie on the ground instead.[7][10][65] A Minneapolis Park Police officer arrived and guarded Floyd's vehicle (across the street by the restaurant) and the two people who had been in it with Floyd.[49]: 2:53 [66]

At 8:17, Chauvin and Thao arrived in a third police car joining Kueng and Lane[49]: 3:32 [50]: 3:27  with Chauvin assuming command.[6] He asked if Floyd was going to jail, and Kueng replied that he was arrested for forgery.[58] Floyd said "I can't fucking breathe" twice.[63] Around 8:18, security footage from Cup Foods shows Kueng struggling with Floyd for at least a minute in the driver side backseat while Thao watches.[49]: 3:54 [50]: 3:49  According to The New York Times, at 8:19, Chauvin pulled Floyd across the backseat from the driver side to the passenger side.[50]: 3:56  Then, according to NPR, Floyd exited the vehicle while being pulled out by police[10] and falling to the pavement.[5]

Chauvin kneels on Floyd's neck

External video
video icon Witness video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck on YouTube (10 min 8 s)

While Floyd lay on his chest with his cheek to the ground, Chauvin knelt on his neck.[10] Floyd stopped moving around 8:20, though he was still conscious.[49]: 4:10  Multiple witnesses began to film the encounter, and their videos were circulated widely on the internet.[5][50]: 4:06  At 8:20, a witness across the street began recording video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck, Kueng applying pressure to Floyd's torso, and Lane applying pressure to Floyd's legs, while Thao stood nearby.[49]: 4:13 [50]: 4:11 [5] This witness stopped filming when one of the officers ordered him to leave.[50]: 4:35  Also at 8:20, a second person, standing near the entrance of Cup Foods, began recording the incident.[49]: 4:26 [50]: 5:08 [27] Floyd can be heard repeatedly saying "I can't breathe", "Please", and "Mama";[5][49]: 4:44 [50]: 4:28  Lane then asked for an ambulance for Floyd, "for one bleeding from the mouth".[63] Floyd repeated at least 16 times that he could not breathe.[50]: 5:46  At one point a witness said: "You got him down. Let him breathe."[67] After Floyd said, "I'm about to die", Chauvin told him to "relax".[68] An officer asked Floyd, "What do you want?"; Floyd answered, "Please, the knee in my neck, I can't breathe."[68]

At approximately 8:22, the officers called for an ambulance on a non-emergency basis, escalating the call to emergency status a minute later.[49]: 4:50 [50]: 4:42  Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck.[50]: 5:15  A passerby yelled to Floyd, "Well, get up, get in the car, man", and Floyd, still handcuffed and face down on the pavement, responded, "I can't", while Chauvin's knee remained on his neck.[50]: 5:26  Floyd said, "My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts", requested water,[69] and begged, "Don't kill me."[70] One witness pointed out that Floyd was bleeding from the nose.[71] Another told the officers that Floyd was "not even resisting arrest right now".[27] Thao countered that Floyd was "talking, he's fine"; a witness replied that Floyd "ain't fine ... Get him off the ground ... You could have put him in the car by now. He's not resisting arrest or nothing. You're enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language explains it."[71][72] As Floyd continued to cry for help, Thao said to witnesses: "This is why you don't do drugs, kids."[73]

By 8:25, Floyd appeared unconscious, and bystanders confronted the officers about Floyd's condition. Chauvin pulled out mace to keep bystanders away as Thao moved between them and Chauvin.[74][75] Bystanders repeatedly yelled that Floyd was "not responsive right now" and urged the officers to check his pulse.[49]: 5:22 [50]: 6:53 [5] Kueng checked Floyd's wrist but found no pulse;[5] the officers did not attempt to provide Floyd with medical assistance while he was on the ground.[50]: 6:46  According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, Lane asked Chauvin twice if they should move Floyd onto his side,[76] and Chauvin said no.[50]: 7:02 

Medical response and death

At 8:27 pm, a Hennepin County ambulance arrived.[49]: 5:56 [50]: 7:11  Shortly thereafter, a young relative of the owner of Cup Foods attempted to intervene, but was pushed back by Thao.[49]: 6:03  Emergency medical technicians checked Floyd's pulse.[50]: 7:17  Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for almost a minute after the ambulance arrived, despite Floyd being silent and motionless.[50]: 7:21 

Around 8:29, Floyd was lifted by paramedics onto a stretcher,[77] then loaded into an ambulance.[50]: 7:43 [5] Lane boarded the ambulance and checked Floyd's pulse at his neck, and a medic instructed him to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.[78] A medical device was placed on Floyd's chest to provide mechanical chest compressions,[78] and the ambulance departed for Hennepin County Medical Center.[49]: 6:35 [50]: 7:43 [5]

En route, the ambulance requested assistance from the Minneapolis Fire Department.[49]: 6:35 [50]: 7:43 [5] At 8:32, firefighters arrived at Cup Foods;[49]: 6:56 [50]: 7:56  according to their report, the police officers gave no clear information regarding Floyd's condition or whereabouts, which delayed their ability to find the ambulance.[50]: 7:56 [79] Meanwhile, the ambulance reported that Floyd was entering cardiac arrest and again requested assistance, asking firefighters to meet them at the corner of 36th Street and Park Avenue. Five minutes later, the fire department reached the ambulance;[50]: 8:10  two fire department medics who boarded the ambulance found Floyd unresponsive and pulseless.[49]: 6:56 

Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 at the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room.[49]: 7:12 [50]: 8:28 [5][80]

Investigations and criminal charges

Minneapolis police response

Early on May 26, the Minneapolis Police Department issued a statement which said nothing about Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck:[81][82][83] "After Floyd got out of his car, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress."[84] Hours later, witness and security camera video circulating on the internet showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck.[85] The department updated its statement[86] by stating that new information had "been made available" and that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was joining the investigation.[84] The four officers were briefly placed on paid administrative leave[13] before being fired later that day.[87] On June 17 the Minnesota Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training took up a review of the four officers' law-enforcement licenses.[88]

Autopsies

Two sets of autopsy results publicized on June 1, 2020, determined that Floyd's death was a homicide.[89][90] The conclusions, one by a local government official and one by doctors working for Floyd's family, differed over whether there were contributing factors, and whether the agreed cause, restraint and neck compression, was combined with subdual or asphyxiation.[90]

Andrew Baker, a pathologist and the chief medical examiner for Hennepin County since 2004, performed an autopsy examination at 9:25 a.m. on May 26.[91][92] Prosecutors who were filing charges against Chauvin summarized portions of preliminary findings in court documents that were released publicly on May 29.[93] His final autopsy findings,[94][91] issued June 1,[95] found that Floyd's heart stopped while he was being restrained and that his death was a homicide caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression".[96]

Fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use may have increased the likelihood of death.[97][98] Other significant conditions were arteriosclerotic heart disease and hypertensive heart disease, including an enlarged heart, one artery 90% blocked, and two others 75% narrowed.[99][94][100] The report states that on April 3 Floyd had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, but does not list it as a fatal or other significant condition.[101][102]

Attorneys for Floyd's family announced on May 29 that they would commission a second autopsy.[103] It was carried out on May 31 by Michael Baden, a pathologist and former New York City chief medical examiner, and by Allecia Wilson, a pathologist and director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan Medical School.[104][105] They announced their results on June 1, a few hours before Baker's final findings were issued.[106] From the evidence available to them, which did not include a toxicology report or unspecified bodily samples, they found that Floyd's death was a homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression.[107][104][99] Also, Floyd had no underlying medical problem that contributed to his death.[108] They said neck compression affected blood flow to the brain,[99] being able to speak does not mean that someone is able to breathe[108] and Floyd apparently died at the scene.[106]

It was revealed in August 2020 that the United States Department of Justice had the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner review the state's official autopsy results, with the review agreeing with the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's findings, including that the death was a homicide. The Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner added that the police "subdual and restraint had elements of positional and mechanical asphyxiation".[15][109][110][111]

Federal investigation

On May 26, the FBI announced it was reviewing the incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.[112][113] On May 28, the United States Department of Justice released a joint statement with the FBI, saying that their investigation into Floyd's death was "a top priority" and outlining the investigation's next steps: a "comprehensive investigation will compile all available information and thoroughly evaluate evidence and information obtained from witnesses ... If it is determined that there has been a violation of federal law, criminal charges will be sought".[43][114][115]

In February 2021, the United States Department of Justice empaneled a grand jury in Minneapolis as part of a federal investigation into Chauvin.[116]

On May 7, 2021, the four officers were indicted on federal charges of civil rights violations. Chauvin was indicted for violating George Floyd's civil rights, along with a teenager who survived a similar restraint in 2019.[117] The other three officers also face charges for violating Floyd's civil rights. Thao, Lane, and Kueng appeared at a hearing virtually, and each posted $25,000 bond. Chauvin did not appear at this hearing, and remains jailed awaiting sentencing for his state charges.[117]

Failed plea bargain

On May 28, state and federal prosecutors held a press conference at a regional FBI office in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, in what was anticipated to be a major development to the case against the officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death.[118] Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the local official with jurisdiction to bring forth criminal charges for police misconduct, said his office needed more time to investigate.[119] In explaining the anticipation of the media briefing and its two-hour delayed start, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said, "I thought we would have another development to talk to you about, but we don't." On June 9, it was revealed that state and federal prosecutors had discussed a plea deal with Chauvin that would have included state murder charges and federal civil rights charges,[118] but the deal fell apart when United States Attorney General William Barr rejected it.[120] Chauvin believed his prospects of winning at trial could be poor, and was willing to plead guilty to third-degree murder for a ten-year prison sentence. As he would have gone to federal prison, the federal government was involved. Barr worried that protestors might view the agreement as too lenient and prefer a full investigation.[120]

State criminal charges

On May 29, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, and held at Oak Park Heights state prison. According to the criminal complaint, police are trained that the neck restraint that he applied "with a subject in prone position is inherently dangerous".[121] He was the first officer in Minnesota to be charged in the death of a black civilian.[122][123] On June 3, the charge against Chauvin was upgraded to second-degree murder, and the three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.[124][d]

State civil rights action

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights opened an investigation into the practices of the Minneapolis Police Department on June 2.[126][127] On June 5, the Minneapolis City Council authorized the mayor to enter a restraining order with the State of Minnesota banning chokeholds and neck restraints, requiring police officers to intervene against other officers' use of excessive force, and requiring authorization from the police chief or other designate before using crowd-control weapons such as chemical agents and rubber bullets.[128][129] On June 8, a Hennepin County Court judge ordered the Minneapolis Police Department to cooperate with a civil rights investigation, and extended the restrictions on the department to require that the chief make discipline decisions in a timely and transparent manner, and that civilian analysts and investigators in the city's Office of Police Conduct Review be given authority to audit body-worn camera footage and to file or amend complaints on behalf of the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department.[130][131][132]

Civil litigation and settlement

The family of George Floyd filed a wrongful death lawsuit in federal court in July 2020 against the City of Minneapolis and the four former police officers involved in the murder. The complaint said Floyd's Fourth Amendment rights were violated by "excessive use of unjustified, excessive, illegal, and deadly force." The lawsuit did not specify the amount of monetary damages the family sought.[133]

On March 12, 2021, the City of Minneapolis announced a settlement with Floyd's family for $27 million. It was approved unanimously by the City Council. Family lawyer Ben Crump described it as the "largest pre-trial settlement in a civil rights wrongful death case in U.S. history." The settlement surpassed the previous record for Minneapolis of $20 million, paid in 2019 in the killing of Justine Damond. The city allocated $500,000 "for the benefit of the community around 38th and Chicago", the street intersection where Floyd died.[134]

Trial of Chauvin

External video
video icon Pioneer Press Live Stream of Derek Chauvin trial on YouTube (1 hr 44 min 58 s)

Chauvin's trial commenced in Minneapolis on March 8, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court.[135] Opening statements occurred on March 29, 2021, and closing arguments on April 19, 2021.

On April 20, 2021, the jury found Chauvin guilty of all charges, including second-degree intentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.[136][137] He was the first white Minnesota police officer to be convicted of murdering a black person. It was only the second time an officer has been convicted of murder in Minnesota, the first being the third-degree murder conviction of Somali-American officer Mohamed Noor in the shooting of Justine Damond, a white woman.[138] Following Chauvin's conviction, Judge Cahill revoked his bail and Chauvin was taken back into police custody due to flight risks and the dangers of publicity that this case has brought.[139][140]

The sentence awarded was 22.5 years in custody.[136] On May 12, 2021, Judge Cahill allowed for the prosecution to seek a greater prison sentence than the 12.5-year state guideline after finding that Chauvin treated Floyd "with particular cruelty."[141][142]

Trial of Kueng, Lane, and Thao

On June 10, 2020, Lane was released on bail;[143] his attorney asserted that he warned Chauvin of the danger of severe harm to Floyd, and that doing so was all that was required under Minneapolis police regulations at the time.[144] On June 19, Kueng became the second charged officer to be released on bail.[145] Thao then followed suit on July 4.[146]

Kueng, Lane, and Thao will all stand trial together, beginning on March 7, 2022. The three former officers were originally scheduled to stand trial on August 23, 2021, but their trial was delayed to allow the federal civil rights case against the four officers, including Chauvin, to proceed first.[147]

Memorials, protests, and other reactions

A makeshift memorial outside the store where Floyd was killed

The area near the location where Floyd was murdered became a makeshift memorial throughout May 26, with many placards paying tribute to him and referencing the Black Lives Matter movement.[148] As the day progressed, more people came to demonstrate against Floyd's death. Hundreds of people,[149][150][151][152] then marched to the 3rd Precinct of the Minneapolis Police.[151] Participants used posters and slogans with phrases such as "Justice for George", "I can't breathe", and "Black Lives Matter".[153] On September 18, the Minneapolis City Council approved designating the section of Chicago Avenue between 37th and 39th Streets as George Perry Floyd Jr. Place, with a marker at the intersection with 38th Street where the incident took place. The intersection has been closed and occupied by demonstrators who said they won't leave until their demands regarding anti-racism and property tax are met.[154]

Unrest began in local protests in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area before quickly, within a few days, spreading nationwide and in over 60 countries internationally supporting Black Lives Matter. Over 2,000 cities in the US have seen demonstrations as of June 13.[155][156] While the majority of protests have been peaceful,[157] demonstrations in some cities descended into riots and looting,[158][159] with more being marked by street skirmishes and significant police brutality, notably against peaceful protesters and reporters.[160][161] At least 200 cities in the U.S. had imposed curfews by June 3, while more than 30 states and Washington, D.C, activated over 62,000 National Guard personnel due to the mass unrest.[162][163][164]

Floyd's brother stands where Floyd was killed

The protests were initially peaceful, but later there was vandalism of stores. At the 3rd Precinct police station, windows were broken, a fence was pulled down, and the front entrance was broken into, causing police officers to fire less than lethal rounds at the crowd from the building's roof. After staff evacuated the building, it was set on fire.[165][166][167][168] A six-storey, 200-unit apartment building under construction was also burned.[165] Police in riot gear used tear gas, flash grenades, rubber bullets and smoke bombs, and some protesters threw rocks at the police.[151][169] The media highlighted the apparent differences in aggression between the police response to these protests versus the more restrained response to the 2020 United States anti-lockdown protests featuring gun-wielding white protesters.[169][170] This sentiment also spread on social media by groups such as Black Lives Matter.[171][172]

While peaceful protests continued, others again became violent after sundown, with the pattern repeating for several days.[173][42] As of June 9, the Star Tribune estimated 570 businesses in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area had been vandalized or destroyed, including 67 destroyed by fire.[174]

Protester holding up a sign reading # I can't breathe George Floyd '93
A memorial vigil at Yates High School, from which Floyd graduated, in Houston, Texas

Following the rioting, a nighttime curfew in Minneapolis–Saint Paul and Dakota County was established on May 29. 500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers were later dispatched to the area to enforce the curfew,[175] but to little effect, with about 1,000 protesters being able to march peacefully on Interstate 35 well into curfew.[176]

A public memorial, with Al Sharpton delivering the eulogy, was held June 4 at North Central University in Minneapolis.[177] A public viewing and a family memorial was held in Raeford, North Carolina on June 6, near Floyd's hometown.[178] Floyd's family held a public memorial in Houston on June 8, and a private service on June 9. The family said professional boxer Floyd Mayweather paid for the services.[179][180] Floyd's body was on public view on June 8 in his hometown of Houston. Former Vice President and the 2020 presumptive and eventual Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, met with the Floyd family privately and gave a video message at the funeral. Floyd is buried next to his mother in Pearland, Texas.[181][182][183]

Protesters along funeral procession wearing COVID mass and holding signs
Along Floyd's funeral procession route in Pearland, Texas on June 9

Mass protests demanding justice for George Floyd, in some cases also to demonstrate against issues with police brutality in their own countries, took place in over 2,000 cities in the US and around the world,[184] including New York City;[185] Los Angeles;[186] Chicago;[187] Toronto;[188] Mashhad;[189] Milan;[190] Columbus, Ohio;[191][192][193] Denver;[194][195] Des Moines;[196] Houston;[197] Louisville;[198] Memphis;[199][200] Charlotte, North Carolina;[201] Oakland;[202] Portland, Oregon;[203] San Jose;[204] Seattle;[205] Boston;[206] outside the White House in Washington;[207] outside Chauvin's summer home in Windermere, Florida;[208] and in many other locations.[excessive citations] On May 30, 12 states called up the National Guard,[209] and at least 12 major cities imposed curfews that weekend.[210] By June 14, protests had extended into a third week after Floyd's death in many cities, accompanied by calls to reform and defund police departments throughout the United States.[156]

Flowers and slogans in the intersection near which Floyd was killed (May 30)
Tens of thousands gathered in Boston's downtown to commemorate and protest Floyd's death. The protests turned violent by nightfall.[211]

The length of time that Chauvin was originally reported to have had his knee on Floyd's neck, 8:46, was widely commemorated as a "moment of silence" to honor Floyd.[212][213] It was also used in chants, protest signs, and messages,[214] as were the words "I can't breathe".[215]

During the George Floyd protests in the United Kingdom, a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston was toppled by protesters and thrown into Bristol Harbour.

Numerous statues and monuments honoring persons or events associated with slavery and racism were vandalized, removed, or destroyed during the protests in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who filmed Floyd's restraint on her cell phone, received the 2020 PEN/Benenson Courage Award from PEN America.[216][217] The award was presented to her at an awards ceremony in December 2020 by film director Spike Lee.[216] PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said that Frazier's act sparked a "bold movement demanding an end to systemic anti-black racism and violence at the hands of police."[218][219] In June 2021, Frazier also received a special citation from the Pulitzer Prize committee in 2021 for her video.[220] The staff of the Star Tribune received the prize for Breaking News Reporting for their coverage of protests.[221]

Misinformation

Conspiracy theories regarding the nature of Floyd's death and subsequent protests began spreading soon after the murder.[222][223] Winnie Heartstrong, a Republican candidate for Congress, asserted that the footage of Floyd's murder was "created using deepfake technology – digital composites of two or more real persons", that the "real" Floyd had died in 2016, and that actors had been substituted in the roles of Floyd and Chauvin.[224][225] Misinformation was spread about the presence of Antifa at protests after the murder, including assertions that they had been given a "training manual" on tactics to cause unrest by Democrats; some, including Texan agricultural commissioner Sid Miller, claimed that the protests were funded by George Soros.[226] According to Zignal Labs, 873,000 pieces of misinformation were linked to the protests; 575,800 of those mentioned Antifa.[226] The Los Angeles Times said on June 22, 2020, that some theories had been "amplified by a growing number of people on the far right, including some Republican leaders" but that "some Republicans (had) begun pushing back" on false claims and those spreading rumors.[223]

Some pundits, such as Fox News host Tucker Carlson and Candace Owens, said before Chauvin's trial that Floyd had died of drug-related complications or an overdose.[227][228] Cynthia Brehm, the head of the Republican Party in Bexar County, Texas, said that the murder was a "staged event."[229] Other conspiracy theories include the assertion that Darnella Frazier was paid to film the arrest, that those involved were crisis actors and a nearby building to the location of the murder was a Freemason lodge involved in the killing.[230] During the initial stages of the protests, then-president Donald Trump tweeted that "ANTIFA led anarchists" were the causes of unrest.[226][231] He also pledged, in other tweets, to have Antifa designated as a "terrorist organization",[232] and used the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts", an expression associated with Miami police chief Walter E. Headley, who said, in 1967,[233] that his department "didn't mind being accused of police brutality."[233][234]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The store owner said: "Most of the times when patrons give us a counterfeit bill they don't even know its fake so when the police are called there is no crime being committed just want to know where it came from and that's usually what takes place."[52]
  2. ^ Footage begins at 7:50 pm[49]: 0:55  The timestamp on the video is 24 minutes ahead of actual time, according to the restaurant's owner.[49]: 1:03 [50]: 1:29 
  3. ^ The Washington Post, the Star Tribune, and the Associated Press suggest "hooping" is a reference to basketball.[57][58][59] The Los Angeles Times, The Sunday Times, and USA Today suggest "hooping" is a reference to drug use.[60][61][62]
  4. ^ According to Mitchell Hamline law professor Ted Sampsell-Jones, Chauvin was charged with second-degree felony murder, not second-degree intentional murder, which is possible because Minnesota is one of two jurisdictions that rejects the merger doctrine and allows the use of assault as a predicate felony.[125] While a charge of second-degree intentional murder could have exposed Chauvin under state sentencing guidelines to the possibility of a presumptive sentence as long as 306 months, second-degree felony murder carries the same presumptive sentence as the previous charge of third-degree murder: 180 months.[125] Another issue with invoking the felony murder doctrine is that Minnesota law allows the trial court judge to make the requisite finding that the predicate felony posed a "special danger to human life", which may conflict with federal case law requiring every fact essential to a criminal sentence to be submitted to the jury at trial.[125]

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Further reading

External links