27.5.20

Police Use Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets as Thousands Demand Justice for George Floyd

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(TMU) – In an entirely predictable set of events resulting from the brutal actions of the Minneapolis Police Department, thousands of protesters have taken to city streets to demand justice for George Floyd less than 24 hours after he was killed in police custody when an officer subdued him by placing his knee directly on his neck for several minutes until he choked to death.

Local reports from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and social media show a massive group of aggrieved community members making their way from the site of Floyd’s death to the Minneapolis Police’s Third Precinct, where they rallied before a door to the building was smashed.

Shortly before 8 p.m. Central Time, officers wearing riot gear began to fire less-lethal weaponry including tear gas, flash bang grenades, and sandbag rounds at protesters. While such less-lethal weapons and chemical irritants are commonly used to stop mass demonstrations, they can also lead to life-changing and serious injuries, as well as death.


Independent media group Unicorn Riot also published roughly 2 hours of live-streamed footage from the march, during which time their cameraperson was allegedly fired upon by officers. Later, one of their reporters was hit by a less-lethal round after allegedly witnessing another protester be struck in the eye.

On Twitter, City Councilman Jeremiah Ellison wrote that police were “firing indiscriminately into the crowd” in “a disgusting display” and he was forced to personally tend to a teenage girl who was bleeding profusely after being hit by a less-lethal round.

The multiethnic group of protesters, however, held strong while throwing back water bottles in what the Star-Tribune described as a “standoff” between police and the outraged crowd. The demonstrators also began pelting a line of police vehicles with water bottles and other projectiles, shattering some windows.

In dramatic video, young members of the crowd can be seen taunting officers and throwing objects while taking over lanes of the street.

As the protests continued after sundown, the standoff spilled into the parking lot of a local Target, where demonstrators barricaded behind stacked-up shopping carts and a nearby semi truck.

Earlier, the crowd chanted “No Justice, No Peace!” and “I can’t breathe,” a reference to the final words of Floyd and a common refrain at anti-brutality marches since the 2014 killing of Eric Garner by NYPD.

The protesters also demanded that the cops involved face criminal prosecution. Earlier Tuesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the four officers involved in Monday’s deadly incident were terminated for their role in the killings. The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension have also announced that they will investigate the incident.

Federal and local authorities are unlikely to enjoy the patience of a community that has seen too many police officers – like those involved in the choking death of Garner – be allowed to walk free after committing what critics argue is tantamount to the murder of Black residents in broad daylight.

Community activist Al Flowers told the Star that the incident was “one of the most egregious murders I’ve ever seen,” adding:

“This will happen again if we don’t get out in front of this.”

George Floyd was a 46-year-old Black man who was detained for his alleged role in an act of “forgery,” according to a Minneapolis police statement. Floyd was also accused of being “under the influence” and of having “physically resisted officers” before the altercation that ultimately led to his death – common allegations lodged against police brutality victims.

However, in the dramatic video footage that emerged hours after his slaying, Officer Derek Chauvin could be seen driving his knee into Floyd’s neck until he was entirely limp, unconscious and on the brink of death. For minutes during the encounter, Floyd could be heard complaining that he could not breathe or move, and that “my stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.”

During the fatal encounter, officers joked to onlookers that “this is why you don’t do drugs, kids.”

Floyd also cried out for his mother, who passed away about a year ago, according to his partner, Courteney Ross.

Friends and family describe Floyd, who spent most of his life in Houston before seeking a “fresh start” in Minneapolis, as a “gentle giant” who was “friendly to everybody,” reports local CBS affiliate WCCO.

On Tuesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey forcefully denounced the officers’ actions, stating:

“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.

“For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a Black man. For five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.”

The killing of George Floyd is perhaps one of the most high-profile and graphic examples of police brutality in the U.S. in recent years and comes in the wake of renewed allegations of systemic racism by law enforcement months after the vigilante-style murder of Ahmaud Arbery by three white men in a Georgia suburb.

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