George Floyd is killed by a police officer, igniting historic protests

George Floyd is killed by a police officer, igniting historic protests

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On the evening of May 25, 2020, white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kills George Floyd, a Black man, by kneeling on his neck for almost 10 minutes. The death, recorded by bystanders, touched off what may have been the largest protest movement in U.S. history and a nationwide reckoning on race and policing.

The 46-year-old Floyd, a Houston native and father of five, had purchased cigarettes at a Minneapolis convenience store. After a clerk suspected that Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill in the transaction, the store manager called the police. When officers arrived, they pulled a gun on Floyd, who initially cooperated as he was arrested. However, Floyd resisted being placed in the police car, saying he was claustrophobic. Officers eventually pulled him from the car and Chauvin pinned him to the ground for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd was unresponsive when an ambulance came and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

After video of the incident was posted on Facebook, protests began almost immediately in Minneapolis and quickly spread across the nation. Demonstrators chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” took to the streets from coast to coast, and police departments around the country responded at times with riot-control tactics. Floyd’s murder came after protests over the killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta in February and of Breonna Taylor in Louisville in March, and also came in the third month of nationwide lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

By early June, protests were so widespread that over 200 American cities had imposed curfews and half of the United States had activated the National Guard. Marches continued and spread throughout June, despite the restrictions on gathering during the COVID-19 pandemic and militarized resistance from federal and local law enforcement.

All told, more than 2,000 cities and towns in all 50 states saw some form of demonstration in the weeks after Floyd’s death, as well as major cities across the globe.

The protests set off local and national dialogue about the role and budgets of American police departments, as well as intense discussions in schools and corporations about how to end racism and create inclusivity, equality and equity.

Chauvin, who had at least 17 other misconduct complaints lodged against him prior to killing Floyd, was arrested on May 29, 2020 and charged with second-degree and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. On April 20, 2021, after a trial, which was broadcast live online and on TV due to the pandemic, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all charges.

Before George Floyd In Minnesota, There Was Michael Brown In Missouri

Before George Floyd In Minnesota, There Was Michael Brown In Missouri

Laquan McDonald: Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in the October 2014 shooting death of McDonald, a Black teenager. The jury also found him guilty of 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm, and acquitted him on one count of official misconduct. It took the jury about eight hours to reach a verdict in the 2018 trial, marking the first time in decades that a Chicago police officer was convicted of murder for an on-duty death.

Walter Scott: In April 2015, Michael Slager — then a police officer in North Charleston, S.C. — pulled over Scott, a Black man, because of a broken brake light on his Mercedes-Benz. Scott ran from his vehicle and Slager gave chase after a scuffle, Slager shot Scott as he was running away, hitting him five times in the back. A bystander captured a video of the incident, which quickly went viral. A state murder trial ended in a hung jury, then Slager pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation for using excessive force as part of a plea agreement. In 2017, a judge found him guilty of second-degree murder and obstruction of justice, and sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

Samuel DuBose: Ray Tensing, a white University of Cincinnati police officer, killed DuBose during a traffic stop in July 2015. He had pulled DuBose over for missing a front license plate, and later said he shot him because he was being dragged by DuBose's car — body camera video showed the car slowly rolling off as Tensing questioned DuBose, before the officer shot the Black man in the head. Tensing's first trial, in 2016, ended with the jury unable to reach a unanimous verdict on murder and manslaughter charges. A second trial in 2017 also ended with a deadlocked jury and was declared a mistrial.

Sandra Bland: Bland was arrested after being pulled over by police in Waller County, Texas, in July 2015 for failing to signal a lane change and was found hanged in her cell in county jail three days later. A Texas grand jury declined to indict any officers in connection with her death. Brian Encinia, the Texas state trooper who pulled her over, was accused of lying about how he removed Bland from her car and was indicted on a criminal charge of perjury. The charge was later dropped after Encinia agreed to end his career in law enforcement.

Philando Castile: Castile was fatally shot by officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb in July 2016, after being pulled over for a broken tail light. Castile disclosed that he was legally carrying a gun, and Yanez shot him seven times, reportedly out of fear that he was reaching for it. A video of Castile bleeding to death, filmed by his girlfriend and streamed to Facebook Live, was seen by millions. Yanez was tried on charges of second-degree manslaughter and endangering safety by discharging a firearm, and a jury acquitted him after 27 hours of deliberation spread out over five days.

The Two-Way

Hundreds Protest After Minnesota Officer Found Not Guilty In Philando Castile Death

Terence Crutcher: Crutcher, who was Black, was killed in September 2016 by police officer Betty Jo Shelby after she stopped his SUV in the middle of a two-lane road in Tulsa, Okla. The incident was captured on dashboard cameras as well as a police helicopter camera. Shelby was charged with first-degree manslaughter and acquitted by a jury after several hours of deliberation in 2017.

Justine Ruszczyk: The only known Minnesota police officer to be convicted of murder in an on-duty incident is Mohamed Noor. The former Minneapolis police officer, who is Somali American, shot Ruszczyk, a white woman, as she approached his squad car after calling 911 to report a possible sexual assault near her home in 2017. A jury found him guilty of third-degree murder and manslaughter, and not guilty of intentional second-degree murder, in 2019. He was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison.


Murder of George Floyd Edit

George Floyd was an unarmed African-American man who died while he was being detained by police in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, shortly after 8:00 p.m. CDT, near the Cup Foods grocery store at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, while other officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao assisted with the arrest and held concerned onlookers back. [42] Floyd could be heard repeatedly on a bystander's video saying: "I can't breathe", "Please", and "Mama". He appeared unconscious at the scene, [43] and was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. after being transported by an ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room. [44]

Racial disparities in Minnesota Edit

The conditions that led to the uprising in Minneapolis were said to be the result of years of disinvestment and abandonment of the area around Lake Street in Minneapolis and city officials ignoring the needs of the community's black residents. [45] By the beginning of the 21st century, Minneapolis was home to some of the largest racial disparities in the United States. The city's population of people of color and Indigenous people fared worse than the city's white population for many measures of well-being, such as health outcomes, academic achievement, income, and home ownership. The result of discriminatory policies and racism over the course of the city's history, racial disparity was described as the most significant issue facing Minneapolis in the first decades of the 2000s. [46]

By 2015, homeownership rates in the Twin Cities were 75 percent for white families, but only 23 percent for black families, one of the largest disparities in the nation. By 2018, unemployment for blacks in Minnesota had reached a historic low of 6.9 percent, but it was still three times higher than the rate for whites. [45] Though black residents made up just 6 percent of Minnesota's population, they were nearly 37 percent of the state's prison population in 2016. [47] By the 2020s, generations of the city's black residents had been unable to experience the same levels of comforts and asset accumulation as the white residents. [45]

Prior killings of residents by police Edit

George Floyd's death was just the latest instance of police violence in Minneapolis, where 11 people were killed by police officers between 2010 and 2020, including Floyd. [45] In 2015, the shooting of Jamar Clark, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer led to controversy and protests it was later determined by prosecutors that the officers had acted in self defense and no charges were filed. In 2016, the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, in nearby Falcon Heights resulted in several weeks of protests and unrest the resulting criminal case ended with a jury acquittal for the involved officer after a 10-month process. [19] In 2017, the shooting of Justine Damond, a white woman, led to a 12-year prison sentence for the police officer, a black man, who shot her. [45]

In instances where Minneapolis police officers attempted to justify the aggressive use of force against residents, a pattern emerged in which the police department would release officer statements that were later contradicted by video and other evidence, as revealed by several civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits. [48] Some felt that the judicial system was inconsistent in that it did not hold white police officers who killed black men accountable for their actions the video of Floyd begging for relief while being pinned by Chauvin generated further concern and anger from both white and black residents in the city. [49] Floyd's death was also the third in a string of widely reported and highly publicized incidents in which unarmed black Americans were killed in 2020, including Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta on February 23 and Breonna Taylor in Louisville on March 13. It was unclear if demonstrators were angered only by the graphic video of Floyd's death or by the culmination of recent incidents in the United States. [50]

Distrust of Minneapolis police Edit

By 2020, the relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department and the community, particularly the city's black residents, had deteriorated significantly. Several killings of residents by police officers and alleged displays of racial insensitivity by police leaders contributed to the tension. [51] [49] [52] In the city's Powderhorn Park neighborhood, where Floyd was killed, some argued there was a persisting distrust between the police and black community. [51]

The head of the police union representing Minneapolis officers, Bob Kroll, was a continuing source of controversy, having called Black Lives Matter a "terrorist organization" in 2016 after the officers involved in Clark's death were cleared of wrongdoing. [51] His appearance at a political rally for Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2019 generated controversy when Kroll said that Trump would “let cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of [on] us”. Controversy had also erupted when police officers put up a "ghetto" Christmas tree at the fourth police precinct station in 2018. [52]

The police department had a history of not holding officers accountable for complaints and disciplinary actions. Of the 80 officers fired for misconduct in the 20 years prior to the murder of Floyd, half were able to be reinstated. As a police officer with the department, Chauvin had received 17 complaints, but only faced discipline once. [53]

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 Edit

Initial reactions to Floyd's death Edit

At 12:41 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, Minneapolis police released a statement about the arrest and death of Floyd several hours prior. [54] They said that a suspected money forger had "physically resisted" arrest and suffered "medical distress" after being handcuffed by officers, leading to his death. The statement made no mention that Floyd was unarmed or that he had been pinned on his neck by Chauvin's knee for several minutes. [55] [56] At about the same time the police released their initial statement, Darnella Frazier, a bystander at the scene of Floyd’s arrest earlier, uploaded a 10-minute video of the incident to Facebook. The graphic video captured Floyd—while laying face down, handcuffed, and pinned by Chauvin's knee—saying he couldn’t breathe and begging for his life as he lost consciousness. The video quickly went viral. [57]

Official reaction came early in the morning. By 3:11 a.m. the police department said that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would join their investigate of the incident. [54] Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey held a 6:45 a.m. press conference, and said in reaction to the bystander video he had seen, “What we saw was horrible. Completely and utterly messed up.” [54] By mid morning several public officials released statements condemning what they viewed in the bystander's video. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said it was "vile and heartbreaking" and all of the officers present at the scene of Floyd's arrest should be held accountable. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called for an independent investigation. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz promised, "We will get answers and seek justice." [54] The four officers at the scene of Floyd's death were placed on paid administrative leave, a standard protocol, pending further investigation. [58] [59]

The Minneapolis police department's initial characterization of Floyd's death, which may have been intended to defuse tension, was perceived as being radically different than what was recorded on bystander videos and it fueled public outrage. [48]

Organized protests emerge Edit

By late morning a makeshift memorial had been set up at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the Minneapolis, the street intersection where the incident with Floyd and the Minneapolis police took place. [55] [54] The first organized protests emerged at the same location by midday. [55] Some of the gathered protesters chanted, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe", words repeated multiple times by Floyd in the viral video. [60] Many people carried homemade signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Killing Black People,” and “I Can’t Breathe.” [58] As more details about the May 25 incident between Floyd and the police were known, thousands more rallied at the intersection outside the Cup Food store, and organizers emphasized keeping the protest peaceful. [61] [58]

Police officers fired Edit

Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo held an afternoon press conference to express solidarity with the community's growing sense of anger about the arrest incident. Frey called for charges to be filed against the involved officers who killed Floyd, and said, "Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth that he should be with us this morning." Arradondo added, "Being Black in America should not be a death sentence." [22]

In an unprecedented move in Minneapolis for swiftness, Arradondo fired the four officers who had been present at the scene of Floyd's arrest and death, a move supported by Frey. [58] Protesters and Floyd's family called for murder charges for all four officers involved and swift judicial consequences, as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also opened an investigation of the incident. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police officer's union, said the firing of the officers occurred without due process and offered "full support of the officers" during the investigations. [62] [63] [64] Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the official responsible for bringing criminal charges against the police officers, promised an expedited review of the case. [58]

Protests intensify Edit

The tone of protests, which were peaceful initially, shifted that afternoon. [65] [22] Just before dusk, the protest rally at the location of Floyd's death became a two-mile (3.2 km), peaceful march [58] to the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct police station where the four involved officers worked. [60] [61] [23] At the station, protesters rallied peacefully with megaphones and signs on the steps at the building's entrance. The main protest group disbanded later in the evening. A smaller group that broke away from the main protest breached the fence of the station parking lot, vandalized the building with graffiti, threw rocks and bottles at officers, broke a window of the building, and broke a window of an unoccupied police car. Some protesters tried to stop the vandalism, with a scuffle breaking out in the crowd. [22] [23]

Recently elected city council member Jeremiah Ellison, who had participated in prior protests against the police after the killing of black men, advised the mayor to not interfere with those vandalizing police property, hoping to spare the surrounding neighborhood from further description. [22] Police Chief Arradondo eventually ordered forces to respond, and police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to push demonstrators back, even at those who were not being violent. He later told reporters that he made the decision because some officers kept weapons in their vehicles that could be taken. [23] [61] In response to being fired upon, demonstrators threw rocks, water bottles, and miscellaneous objects towards the officers. The unruly crowd clashing with the police at this point was measured in the hundreds, a noted contrast from the larger, peaceful group gathered earlier in the day, who were estimated to number in the thousands. [60] [61] Many protesters viewed the police response to the vandalism as an overreaction that only made the crowd angrier. [23]

A separate group of protesters gathered outside the Oakdale home of Derek Chauvin that night. [60]

Wednesday, May 27, 2020 Edit

Peaceful protests resume Edit

Protests in Minneapolis continued on Wednesday, May 27, at several locations throughout the city. At the location where Floyd died, protesters were led through prayer and a series of chants. By late morning, a group of protesters blocked the nearby intersection as they repeated, "Whose streets? Our streets." Some protesters left memorials by the Cup Foods store, while some spray painted the words "Justice for Floyd" and "Black Lives Matter" on the street surface. No police were present and the scene was described as peaceful. [66]

Looting, arson, and violence Edit

In the afternoon, at an AutoZone store at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, across the intersection from the third police precinct station, a masked man carrying an umbrella and a hammer was recorded on video breaking windows and spray-painting graffiti which encouraged looting. [23] [67] The investigation remained open in 2021. [68] The abrupt attack came during a mostly calm demonstration at the street intersection of the police station. Some protesters confronted the masked man and asked him to stop. [67] The situation near the third police precinct station worsened when a nearby Target store was extensively looted by a crowd of about 100 people. [69] Later in the evening, the same AutoZone store became the first building to be set on fire during the unrest. [67] [70] Some protesters attempted to put out the AutoZone fire, while others celebrated and took selfies. [71]

Violence escalated by nightfall. One mile (1.6 km) from the main protest site near the city's third police precinct building, Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year-old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot by a pawnshop owner who believed he was burglarizing his business. [4] [72] Including Horton, five people were struck by gunfire in Minneapolis that night, but he was the only reported fatality. [71] [73]

Local officials react and plan Edit

Frey made an emotional plea just before midnight, saying, "Please, please, Minneapolis. We cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy. The activity around Lake and Hiawatha is now unsafe. Please, help us keep the peace. . " [73]

Frey also reached out to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz that night and requested the help of the Minnesota National Guard, but the city government was reportedly unaware of the timeline and logistics of troop deployment, and relegated tactical coordination to the police force. [22] However, knowing that it would take some time for the National Guard to mobilize, Frey and city leaders began discussing ways to deescalate the situation with demonstrators. [23]

Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson, who represented the area by the third police precinct station, blamed the police for the unfolding destruction, saying "It looked like they were defending the Alamo and letting the community burn", in reference to the police presence and tactics at the police station building. [23]

Council member Jeremiah Ellison said in a media interview that night that the police should "sacrifice" the station, while council member Linea Palmisano expressed privately to a city official about Ellison's remarks that such a move would result in "ultimate chaos". [23]

Destruction spreads overnight Edit

Looting and property destruction were widespread in Minneapolis that night. [73] The heaviest destruction, however, was in the vicinity of the third precinct station near Minnehaha Avenue and East Lake Street, [73] where the fire at an AutoZone store led to a series of other fires and looting at nearby. [4] [72] [70] Among the losses to fire that night was Midtown Corner, an under-construction, $30 million redevelopment project for 189 units of affordable housing, which was destroyed by fire after being torched. Across the street, the manufacturing facility for 7-Sigma, a local high-tech company, also suffered extensive fire damage and part of the building collapsed. [74] The response from firefighters in the area was delayed as crews required police escorts for protection from rioters. [22] The Minneapolis fire department responded to approximately 30 fires overnight. [70]

Looting, which first began at the Target store near the third precinct police station, spread to a nearby Cub Foods grocery store, and to several liquor stores, pharmacies, and other businesses across the city. [71]

Thursday, May 28, 2020 Edit

Government mobilization Edit

At a press conference, Chief Arradondo remarked that, in his view, the majority of protests the previous day were peaceful, but were "hijacked" by some who were looting and vandalizing businesses. [75] Minneapolis city officials hoped that the worst had already passed. [22]

To quell riotous behavior, Mayor Frey declared a state of emergency to allow for more flexibility in the city's response. [76] Frey and Arradondo also began quietly preparing for the contingency of surrendering the third precinct station in Minneapolis if violence escalated. Few people knew of the plan outside of some officers stationed there and nearby business owners who had heard rumors and noticed the station's parking lot being emptied. [23]

Businesses throughout the Twin Cities spent the day boarding up windows and doors to prevent looting. Among them, the Target Corporation announced closures for all of its area stores. Saint Paul police officers armed with batons and gas masks patrolled the city's busiest commercial corridor and kept looters out of a Target store while other business windows were smashed. Minneapolis preemptively shut down its light-rail system and bus service through Sunday out of safety concerns. Officials pleaded with metro area residents to stay home that night to prevent further property destruction. African American Saint Paul mayor Melvin Carter said, "Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again." [77]

At 4 p.m. CDT, Governor Walz formally activated 500 National Guard troops and deployed them to the Twin Cities area, at the request of city leaders. [23] Walz commented, "George Floyd's death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction." Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan added, "the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect people, to protect people safely demonstrating, and to protect small business owners." [78] [76] Walz also said it would take guard troops a few days to fully mobilize. [23]

Delay of officer criminal charges Edit

State and federal prosecutors called a press conference in the late afternoon at a regional FBI office in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb. It was anticipated that there they might reveal a major development in the case against the officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death. [79] After a long delay, however, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the local official with jurisdiction to bring forth criminal charges for police misconduct, announced that his office needed more time to investigate [22] and that there was other evidence that might result in no criminal charges being filed. [80] In responding to the anticipation created by 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". [79]

Weeks later, on June 9, it was revealed that state and federal prosecutors — on the afternoon of the delayed press conference — had been trying to negotiate a plea deal with former officer Derek Chauvin that would have included state murder charges and federal civil rights charges. [79] Chauvin believed that the case against him was so devastating that he agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder. As part of the deal, he was willing to go to prison for more than 10 years. The deal fell apart at the last minute after William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General at the time, rejected the arrangement fearing that it would be viewed as too lenient by protestors. The deal was contingent on the federal government's approval because Chauvin, who had asked to serve his time in a federal prison, wanted assurance he would not face federal civil rights charges. Details about the potential plea agreement were not publicly known during the initial period of unrest. [81]

Transition from peaceful to destructive demonstrations Edit

Thousands of people march peacefully in the streets of Minneapolis and called for justice for George Floyd during the day. [82] Sporadic looting was reported in the afternoon in Saint Paul's Midway neighborhood. [58] A crowd of about at thousand people rallied in the early evening at the Hennepin County Government Center building in Minneapolis, and then marched through the city's downtown area where store fronts had been boarded up and the state patrol maintained a heavy presence. No violence was reported. [83]

Hundreds of demonstrators returned to the area near the third precinct police station, where Frey and Arradondo had deliberately reduced the street presence of the police. [82] By the evening, police reports said the crowd was "engaged in peaceful activity" as some were said to be grilling, listening to music, and socializing. It was not until after sunset that the crowd grew more restless, [23] when looting of a nearby Target store resumed and a vehicle and building were set on fire. [82]

Multiple large, mobile crowds and chaos were reported across the city by nightfall. A crowd of 1,500 protesters were marching through a downtown shopping district in Minneapolis where there were 400 state troopers present. [83] The tension escalated when another large crowd advanced on the city's first police precinct station near Hennepin Avenue and 5th Street. Demonstrators there shot off fireworks and stood off against a line of Minneapolis police officers who fired tear gas. [83] Other protesters marched on the Interstate 35W highway. [83] Smaller crowds gathered elsewhere. [83] "We were defending an entire city with 600 officers against thousands and thousands of protestors," Frey later said of the events. [84]

The intensity of demonstrations increased as dozens of businesses were looted and set on fire on East Lake Street in Minneapolis near the city's third police precinct station. Looters broke into a liquor store across the street from the police station, passed out bottles to the crowd, and then set the store on fire. [22] [84] The nearby Max It Pawn store was set on fire as it was being looted. Bystanders discovered that a person was trapped inside the building, but were unable to help guide them out after frantically removing some plywood from windows and shining flashlights inside. Fire crews that arrived later found the building too unstable for a rescue operation into the structure. [85] The charred remains of the victim, the second death during the unrest, were not recovered until nearly two months later. [29] The victim, Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a 30-year-old man from Burnsville, Minnesota, died from smoke inhalation and burn injuries sustained that night, according to an autopsy report. [5] [86]

Loss of the third precinct police station Edit

Late that night the focus of demonstrators shifted to the Minneapolis third precinct police station building at the intersection of East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue. [82] Some protesters threw objects at the officers guarding the building, who responded by firing rubber bullets in the crowd. [23] Demonstrators began tearing down fencing that surrounded the precinct station and police responded with tear gas. [82] [77] As tensions and fires in the area mounted, Frey gave the order to evacuate the station, a tactic he later said was to deescalate the situation and prevent further loss of life. [82] [77] Despite the evacuation order there were still at least 13 police officers in the building with some reportedly sending texts to loved ones in fear for their lives. [87]

Officers retreating from the building loaded into squad vehicles and had to crash through a parking lot gate as it been padlocked at some point by protesters. Demonstrators then moved in and threw bottles and debris at the fleeing officers who eventually made their way to a rendezvous site three blocks away. At 10:13 p.m. CDT, chief Arradondo announced over police radio, “City wide tone right now, for the loss of the Third Precinct”. [84] After that moment, there was no police, fire, or emergency medical services presence in the area where the riots occurred as live television news broadcast scenes of escalating destruction. [88]

As chaos grew at the police station, hundreds of people in the crowd shouted, "Burn it down! Burn it down!" Demonstrators tore away fencing intended to stop trespassers from entering the building. [89] Two men lit a Molotov cocktail and one took it into the building. Other demonstrators pushed materials into a fire at the building's entrance, intending to accelerate the flames. [89] [82] [77] [90] Surrounded by an unruly crowd, the station burned until the early morning hours of May 29 when firefighting crews reached the area and eventually extinguished fires. [23]

The several-hundred-member contingent of state patrol and National Guard troops on the ground in Minneapolis that night primarily escorted fire trucks and protected a Federal Reserve building and areas of downtown Minneapolis. Walz later remarked that the city had not given directions specifying where to deploy troops as the violence escalated on East Lake Street. [22] State officials also remarked that the city's decision to abandon the precinct station was a misjudgment, allowing demonstrators to create a situation of "absolute chaos", in the words of Walz. [91]

In Saint Paul and elsewhere Edit

In neighboring Saint Paul, which had been spared from widespread property destruction on Wednesday night, 170 businesses were damaged or looted and dozens of fires were started on Thursday. The largest fired burned at a liquor store near Allianz Field soccer stadium at Snelling and University avenues. No major injuries were reported. [83] The two shopping centers in Saint Paul near University Avenue, the Midway Shopping Center and Sun Ray Shopping Center, were looted. [50]

Looting and destruction reached several suburban communities in the Twin Cities. The Rosedale Center shopping mail in Roseville was looted. [50] People also broke into the Northtown Mall in Blaine that night, but police responded and secured the facility. [83] In Apple Valley, overnight from May 28 to May 29, two Minnesota men threw Molotov cocktails into a government service center in an attempt to burn it down. [92]

Just before midnight local time, President Donald Trump posted a controversial statement on Twitter in reaction to the events in Minneapolis. He said, "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!" [93]

Friday, May 29, 2020 Edit

In a follow up to an earlier statement on Twitter, Trump said just after midnight, "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right….." [94]

Frey addressed the media at 1:30 a.m. CDT as the city was battling multiple fires and violence. He acknowledged the anger in the community over Floyd's death, but condemned the actions of rioters and looters. In defense of his decision to have police withdraw from the third precinct station to deescalate tension, he said, "Brick and mortar is not as important as life". [94] He also reacted to Trump's tweets and criticized the president for stoking tension and casting blame on officials during an active crisis event. [94]

By 2:30 a.m., Twitter had flagged Trump's earlier tweet that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” for glorifying violence, which its guidelines prohibited. [94] [58]

Streets cleared and curfews announced Edit

At daybreak, National Guard troops and Minnesota State Patrol officers began clearing people out of the area of the third police precinct station in Minneapolis. At about 6:00 a.m., patrol officers arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his camera crew as they were filming a live news report on television. After intervention from Walz, the crew was released an hour later. [95] [96]

Major-General Jon Jensen, the highest ranking officials in the Minnesota National Guard, expressed frustration form local leaders who had not clarified aspects of the mission. [58]

Governor Walz imposed a state curfew for the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul that would run from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. The order prohibited travel in streets or gathering at public places. Frey also issued an overlapping local curfew in Minneapolis. [97]

Chauvin charged, but other charges pending Edit

In the late afternoon, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman charged Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck as he died, with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. New charges for officers Lane, Kueng, and Thao, who were at the scene of Floyd's death, remained pending. Protesters who had demanded immediate murder charges against all four officers were disappointed four days had already elapsed since Floyd's death. Many protestors intensified focus on the demand for criminal charges in their messaging that day. [98]

Violence resumes Edit

The Target Corporation expanded its closure of stores to 73 in Minnesota with the violence not appearing to abate. The company said in a statement, "We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and the pain it is causing our community. At this time, we have made the decision to close a number of our stores until further notice. Our focus will remain on our team members’ safety and helping our community heal." [99]

The de-escalation strategy of abandoning the third precinct station the previous night was said to have had little effect on quelling unrest on Friday. [23] Despite the announcement of the charges against the officers involved in Floyd's death and the new curfew, riots broke out again on Friday night and continued into early Saturday morning. [100] Demonstrators had tear gas fired on them in rallies at the abandoned third precinct building in Minneapolis. Later in the night, the police presence diminished and several cars were set on fire that neighbors attempted to put out. [58]

Much of the action that night took place near the Minneapolis police fifth precinct station at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. [100] Residents of the Midtown Global Market, a mix-use space with commercial areas and apartments, fended off threats to their building by patrolling the area with baseball bats. [58] Law enforcement presence was reportedly "undetectable" as violence in Minneapolis quickly grew until just before midnight, when police officers, state troopers, and members of the National Guard began confronting rioters with tear gas and mass force. [100] Seventy-fire fires were reported across Minneapolis that night. [23]

Officials later said that the 350 police officers at the site of rioting near the Minneapolis fifth precinct station were vastly outnumbered by the crowds. [101] Walz explained that the scope of the chaos, the time it takes to mobilize guard troops, and the mobile nature of the crowds made it difficult to direct response forces. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that protests were active at several sites through the city and that there were not enough officers to safely and successfully undertake multiple missions. [102]

As the events unfolded that night, the Pentagon placed members of the Military Police Corps from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum on stand-by, preparing for possible deployment to the Twin Cities if requested by Walz. [103] Walz later declined the offer and activated all of the state's National Guard, up to 13,200 troops. [104]

Saturday, May 30, 2020 Edit

Overnight destruction and officials react Edit

Overnight from May 29 to May 30, smoke and the sound of helicopters filled the sky in Minneapolis through the night as multiple fires burned near the fifth police precinct station in Minneapolis. A United States Post Office on Nicollet Avenue, a Wells Fargo Bank branch, and several gas stations, among other businesses, blazed overnight. Several businesses also burned on West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, including a barbershop that was destroyed by fire. Officials were unable to immediately attend to major fires, citing security concerns at the sites, but later reached them when they could be accompanied by National Guard and police patrols. [105]

For the second time in as many nights, officials held a press conference at 1:30 a.m. CDT, but this time in Saint Paul and led by the governor and state officials. Some officials speculated that much of the destruction was being caused by people from outside the state, a claim that was later contradicted by arrest records of protesters and that officials rescinded. [106] It was reported that mayor Frey and governor Walz appeared visibly exhausted as they made emotional pleas to the public about Floyd's death and the escalation of violence. "The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice] that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed — this is dangerous," Walz said. "You need to go home."

Walz also took responsibility for underestimating the size of the crowds causing destruction earlier in the night. [105]

Mix of peaceful and confrontational protests Edit

Officials mobilized National Guard troops throughout Saturday, expecting even larger crowds. [102] Groups of people continued to gather at the makeshift memorial at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent death. [107] More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the home of Michael Freeman, the attorney for Hennepin County and initial prosecutor of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd, and caused minor damage to the house. [108]

By nightfall, demonstrations in Minneapolis were a mix of peaceful gatherings and others that involved property destruction. [109] Minneapolis police reported that a group of protesters near Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street were attacking police by throwing nondescript objects, and deployed more units to the area. [110] That night after curfew, police fired tear gas at a group of protesters who were attempting to march from Minneapolis to Saint Paul via the Lake Street Bridge. [107] Police also fired rubber bullets, paint canisters, and tear gas at sitting protestors and journalists outside the Minneapolis fifth precinct police station, resulting in serious injuries. [111] At about 11:00 p.m., Minneapolis police officers that patrolled East Lake Street near 15th Avenue South were hit with rocks, debris, and bottles of bodily fluids thrown by demonstrators. [112]

By Saturday night, the Minnesota National Guard had reached full mobilization. [113] No buildings were set on fire in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, unlike the previous three nights. [113] After May 30, violent riots subsided and protests returned to being largely peaceful events. [23]

Sunday, May 31, 2020 Edit

Shots fired at officers Edit

At approximately 4:00 a.m. a 38-year old man from Saint Paul fired several gunshots at Minneapolis police officer on East Lake Street who were patrolling the area and encountered a group of people in a parking lot. [109] The police chased the man down and subdued him after a struggle. They recovered the firearm allegedly used by the man, and he later faced criminal charges in connection to the incident. [112]

Troop deployment and peaceful rallies Edit

By late Saturday morning, Minnesota National Guard troops were conducting missions with more on the way. Protests and rallies were held at various locations throughout the Minneapolis–Saint Paul region. [113] Crowds of people once again gathered at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent death. [114] Speakers at a “Justice for George Floyd” rally at the state capitol building in Saint Paul spoke about police brutality and called for the arrest of the other three officers at the scene of Floyd's death. A peaceful crowd marched westbound on I-94 before heading down University Avenue in Saint Paul. [115]

Later in the day, Walz and Freeman agreed that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would assist in the investigation of Floyd's death. [116]

Tanker truck incident on I-35W Edit

Shortly after 6:00 p.m. CDT, an estimated crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered on the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and, believing police forces had fully closed the interstate highway after they marched on to it, began taking a knee. [117] An unaware semi-truck tanker drove northbound through an unbarricaded section of the highway and into the protesters, causing the crowd to part ways to avoid being run down. After the driver—a 35-year-old man from Otsego, Minnesota returning from a fuel delivery—came to a halt, he was pulled from his cab and beaten by the surrounding crowd. He suffered minor injuries, as some of the protesters attempted to protect him. [118] [119]

A live social media video captured a person pointing a gun at the truck driver and shooting two rounds into the truck's front tire. [120] Bystanders brought the truck driver to the police, who then pepper-sprayed the crowd. The driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center then released into the custody of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which initially charged him with assault. [118] [119] No serious injuries to the people on the bridge were reported, though one protester suffered abrasions during the incident. [118] Led by the Minnesota State Patrol and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, officials cited 318 people for unlawful assembly in connection to the incident. [121]

The driver was charged in October 2020 for criminal vehicular operation, but in June 2021 the charges were dropped and he agreed to a year-long probationary period and payment of restitution. [122]

June 1-7, 2020 Edit

Memorials and gatherings Edit

On June 1, 2020, Governor Walz began the process of demobilizing the state's National Guard, a process that would take several days. [123] Two autopsy reports were publicized—one by the Hennepin County medical examiner and one by doctors hired by Floyd's family—that ruled Floyd's death a homicide. [124]

Thousands gathered peacefully at the Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul and marched to the Governor's Residence, calling for police reforms and the prosecution of all four officers who were involved in Floyd's death. Nearly 30 Saint Paul police officers on the outskirts of the rally took a knee, which drew criticism from rally organizers who felt the gesture was a hollow public relations stunt and asked them to leave. Activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, citing distrust of Attorney General Keith Ellison, demanded that Floyd's case be handled outside the state. Governor Tim Walz attended part of the rally but did not speak publicly. [125]

Floyd's family addressed a crowd at the 38th and Chicago intersection and encouraged people to continue protesting, but to do so peacefully. Terrance Floyd, George's brother, said that instead of destroying property, demonstrators should, ""Educate yourself, and know who you're voting for. That's how we're going to hit them. Let's switch it up." [126]

On June 2, 2020, thousands of people gathered for several peaceful protests across the Twin Cities. Reflecting on social justice action during the United States civil rights era, faith leaders held corresponding marches in south Minneapolis and Saint Paul. A dozen area high school students organized a sit in at the state capitol building in Saint Paul that drew an estimated crowd of 3,000 people. [127] A National Guard troop member was given the opportunity to briefly address the crowd to explain their mission to restore order and protect peaceful assembly. [128] [129] Somber protests continued at the Minneapolis intersection were Floyd was killed and a group remained after the curfew time came and went. [130]

On June 3, 2020, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who four days earlier took over the case against the officers involved in Floyd's death, upgraded the murder charges against former officer Chauvin and charged former officers Kueng, Lane, and Thao with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Floyd's family called the charges “a significant step forward on the road to justice". Walz, who visited the Floyd memorial at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis where crowds continued to gather, said he recognized "that the anguish driving protests around the world is about more than one tragic incident". [131] [132]

On June 4, 2020, some protests continued Thursday as the family of George Floyd held a memorial service for him at North Central University in Minneapolis, about three miles (4.8 km) from where he was killed on May 25. Many state and local officials attended, including governor Walz, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. The service also drew national officials and civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King III, Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as several celebrity figures. A reverent crowd gathered at nearby Elliot Park to listen to a broadcast of the memorial on loudspeakers where free food, groceries, and dry goods were provided. [133] [134]

On June 5, 2020, thousands gathered for a rally at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to honor the life of Floyd and call for police reform measures. Former NBA basketball player Royce White, a featured speaker at the event that brought civil rights organizations and professional athletes together, called for the resignation of police union president Bob Kroll. The protest group marched through the city in the early evening. [135]

As nights grew calmer, curfews that had been in place since the previous Friday ended in the Twin Cities on June 5, 2020. [136] [113]

Police abolition movement Edit

A march of thousands of protesters in Minneapolis on June 6, 2020, to call for "defunding the police" culminated in a rally at the home Mayor Jacob Frey. The crowd confronted Frey and asked if he supported abolishing the city's police. When he said he did not, the crowd booed him away. [137]

On June 7, at a Powderhorn Park rally organized by Black Visions Collective and several other black-led social justice organizations, nine of the 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council vowed before a large crowd to dismantle the city's police department. [138] The pledge garnered significant attention and considerable political backlash. [139] [140] [141]

The process to amend the city's charter to replace the police department with a Department of Public Safety continued in 2020 and 2021. [142]

End of government mobilization Edit

A multi-agency government command that responded to the riots and unrest demobilized on June 7, 2020. The government response was led by Minnesota Department of Public Safety and had participation of federal agencies, Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and Minnesota State Patrol. The command had provided security for some events, such as the June 4 memorial in Elliot Park, but noted that events leading up to and on June 7 were not violent. [143] The state had pressed 7,123 members of the Minnesota National Guard into duty under the commanded of Major General Jon A. Jensen in the largest deployment in the state's history since World War II. [28]

Aftermath Edit

Many business owners boarded up with plywood panels to cover windows and doors at their properties to prevent looting, particularly in the areas most impacted by civil unrest. [144] Many residents, small business owners, and organization leaders stood guard at their buildings overnight during the heaviest rioting. Some intervened to dissuade rioters from destroying property. [145] [146] Hundreds of residents, some with snow shovels and brooms, went to areas affected by overnight rioting to clean up trash, graffiti, broken glass, and the remnants of damaged buildings. [34] [147] In areas of heavy rioting, were many stores closed after being looted or burned, residents organized food drives. [148] Vibrant works of arts appeared all over the Twin Cities on boarded-up buildings and other surfaces that honored George Floyd's memory, contained racial justice themes, and showed community solidarity. [149]

Nearly 1,500 property locations in the Twin Cities had been damaged by vandalism, fire, and/or looting, with some buildings reduced to rubble and dozens of others completely destroyed by fire. The heaviest damage occurred in Minneapolis along a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch on Lake Street between the city's third and fifth police precincts and in Saint Paul along a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) stretch of University Avenue in the Midway area. [9] Reports of property destruction reached from Apple Valley to Maple Grove in the metropolitan region. Most of the arrests of demonstrators that later resulted in criminal charges were for acts of property destruction and rioting that occurred by June 1, 2020. [121] Estimates of property damage in the region were upwards of $550 million, [8] making the unrest in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area the second most destructive in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. [30] Local officials estimated that rebuilding damaged business corridors in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region would take 10 years. [25]

Officials had trouble identifying the people responsible for causing destruction as the peaceful protests transitioned to riots. Law enforcement recovered incendiaries, weapons, and stolen vehicles left in the areas of heated protests. [150] The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked 160 separate fires in the days after Floyd's murder—the total did not include adjacent structures were damaged by large fires. [121] The multi-agency law enforcement command center for the Twin Cities announced that 604 protesters had been arrested as of June 2, 2020. [6] Several hundred of those arrested were described as participating in peaceful protests, but were taken into custody at night for violating curfew. [151] People charged with violating curfew faced potential fines of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail. [152] Charges against many who protested peacefully were later dropped. [153]

Analysis of state and federal criminal charges found that disorganized crowds had no single goal or affiliation, many opportunist crowds amassed spontaneously during periods of lawlessness, and that people causing destruction had contradictory motives for their actions. [13] By a year later, federal officials had charged 17 people with for rioting or arson-related crimes and local officials had charged 81 with felonies connected to the unrest. [121] More than half of those charged were described as white Americans who travelled from suburban or rural communities to participate in the unrest, with some motivated to address racial injustice. [154] Commenting on the racial dynamics of those causing destruction and who it affected, the Pioneer Press newspaper said in October 2020, "In St. Paul, the irony of self-proclaimed advocates — many of them white — arriving from outside the city to burn down large strips of ethnic neighborhoods in the name of racial justice hasn’t been lost on residents of the Midway." [154]

At least two deaths occurred as a result of the civil unrest in Minneapolis in 2020. [29] Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year-old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot on May 27 by the owner of the Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry shop who believed he was burglarizing his business. [4] [72] Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a 30-year-old man from Burnsville, Minnesota, died from smoke inhalation and burn injuries from an intentional building fire at the Max It Pawn store in Minneapolis on May 28. [5] [86]

Maps Edit

Major areas of civic unrest in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, May 27–29, 2020:

East Lake Street in Minneapolis

University Avenue West, in Saint Paul

Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis

Videos Edit

Scenes of protests and looting in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020

Scenes of fires and destruction in Minneapolis, May 29, 2020

George Floyd Square Edit

George Floyd protests first emerged on May 26, 2020, at the East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue intersection where he was killed the day prior. [60] Residents and activists transformed the street intersection into a memorial site with public art of Floyd and of other racial justice themes. Some activists also held several blocks around the intersection in an occupation protest. The memorial site and occupation of the area, referred as George Floyd Square, persisted in 2021. [155] [156] The street intersection area had been a "continuous site of protest" [157] since the day Floyd died, and at nearly a year after his death, thousands of people from multiple countries had visited the active, [158] ongoing [159] protest and memorial site there. [159] [157] City crews removed cement barricades at the intersection on June 3, 2021, as part of a phased reopening process [160] and vehicular traffic resumed several weeks later on June 20, 2021, after being closed for over a year. [161] [162]

Racial injustice Edit

Protestors continued to seek justice for Floyd and made broader calls to address structural racism in Minnesota, with many protest events part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement. [23] National Public Radio described the protest period in the months after Floyd's death as the "summer of racial reckoning". [163] A columnist for the The European Conservative referred to it as "the long hot summer of 2020", a nod to the long, hot summer of 1967. [164] [165] [166]

As the global protest movement over Floyd's death turned towards removing monuments and memorials with controversial legacies, [167] a statue of Christopher Columbus at the Minnesota State Capitol building was torn down by American Indian demonstrators on June 10, 2020, [168] and the Minnesota Twins removed a statue of former club owner Calvin Griffith on June 19, 2020. [169] The Minneapolis false rumors riot from August 26–27, 2020, occurred after misinformation spread on social media that a homicide suspect was shot by police, when video released by the police showed the man shooting himself in the head as officers approached to arrest him. [170]

Protests were held following the killing of Dolal Idd by Minneapolis police officers during a sting operation on December 30, 2020, which was the first police killing in the city since that of Floyd. [171] Several days of unrest occurred in the Twin Cities region after the killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11, 2021, who allegedly mistook her handgun for a taser during a traffic stop and arrest. Daunte Wright protests intersected with the mobilization of law enforcement for the conclusion of the Derek Chauvin criminal trial. [172] [173] Demonstrators after Floyd's death also renewed protests in 2020 and 2021 over prior killings of Black men by police in the Twin Cities area, such as the shooting deaths of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Philando Castile in 2016, among others. [3] [174]

Pre-trial proceedings and jury selection Edit

Several protests and rallies were held in conjunction with the legal proceedings and criminal trials of the four Minneapolis police officers at the scene of Floyd's death—officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao. [175]

Hundreds rallied outside the Hennepin County Government Center, a downtown Minneapolis local government and court building, on September 11, 2020, during a pretrial hearing for former officers Chauvin, Lane, and Keung, and Thao. [176] Confrontations between some in the crowd and the officers' attorney were described as "angry". On November 5, 2020, defense attorneys cited the exchange on September 11 and safety concerns in their arguments in court to have a change of venue to another jurisdiction for the trial, but Peter Cahill, the presiding judge, rejected the their motion. [177]

On October 7, 2021, protesters took to the streets and held rallies at several places in Minneapolis to express anger over the release of former Chauvin on bail. Chauvin was initially arrested on May 29, 2020, and held at Oak Park Heights prison, [178] but he later posted bond for the $1 million bail for his release pending trial. Governor Walz sent 100 National Guards troops, as well as 100 state police troops and 75 conservation officers, to keep the peace in Minneapolis. [179] Law enforcement made 51 arrests late at night on October 7, of which 49 were for misdemeanor offences such as unlawful assembly, one arrest for assault, and one arrest for having an outstanding felony warrant. [7]

Peter Cahill, the judge overseeing the Chauvin trial, dismissed the most serious charge for third-degree murder on October 22, 2020, as a protest group of about 100 people demonstrated. [124] Walz proactively mobilized 100 National Guard troops and an unspecific number of Minnesota State Patrol officers to support local law enforcement. [180]

State and local officials prepared for the possibility of continued unrest in 2021 with the trials of the four Minneapolis police officers deemed responsible for Floyd's death scheduled for begin that year. [175] Officials surrounded the Hennepin County Government Center, a public building that included the court rooms were the Chauvin trial would take place, with a temporary concrete barrier, metal fencing, and barbed wire in anticipation of civil unrest. [181]

On March 7, 2021, several hundred protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis and rallied outside the Hennepin County Government Center building to mourn the death of George Floyd and call for reform of policing. The event, dubbed the "'I Can't Breathe' Silent March For Justice" by its organizers, came one day ahead of jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin slated for March 8. Protesters carried a white-colored replica coffin adorned with red flowers. Another group of faith leaders, held a "Pray for MN" gathering at the government center building later that afternoon. [182]

Jury trial and verdict announcement Edit

Approximately a thousand protesters gathered peacefully outside a downtown courthouse as Chauvin's trial commenced on March 8 to call for justice for Floyd and raise broader issues of racial injustice. Officials had surrounded the facility with a temporary concrete barrier, metal fencing, and barbed wire in anticipation of potential unrest. Protests and rallies planned for the George Floyd Square were halted for several days after a fatal shooting there on March 6, 2021. [183]

On March 28, 2021, the day before opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, several rallies and protests were held in Minneapolis. The family of George Floyd and Al Sharpton hosted a vigil at the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Separately, protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis to demand justice for Floyd and rallied at the Hennepin County Government Center and City Hall, and some demonstrators parked cars on the Metro light-rail tracks, which closed train traffic for several hours. At 38th and Chicago Avenue, the street intersection where Floyd was killed, a group of people who self-identified as "anarchists" and "anti-fascists" held a training workshop at the square on how to avoid arrest and keep calm if detained by police. Protesters claimed that the street intersection was not public property and demanded that journalists leave the area before the training workshop began. [184]

The George Floyd Square remained an important gathering place during the trial of Derek Chauvin for people protesting racial injustice and seeking justice for Floyd. The square hosted daily visitors from around the United States who made pilgrimages to the intersection. [185] Groups of protesters also gathered outside Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis during the trial of Derek Chauvin and marched on the streets calling for justice. [186] The streets in Minneapolis, however, were largely empty of the mass marches that were a feature of protests in May and June 2020. [144]

On April 6, several civil rights leaders, including Al Sharpton and former New York Governor David Paterson, led a rally outside the government building and prayed for the conviction of Derek Chauvin. [187] The Chauvin murder trial concluded on April 19, 2021, and the jury began deliberations. [188]

The trial of Derek Chauvin concluded in Minneapolis just after 5 p.m. on April 19, 2021, and the jury began deliberations the same evening. The trial had been one of the most closely watched cases of police brutality in the United States. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency and deployed 3,000 Minnesota National Guard troops and state patrol officers to assist local law enforcement. He also sought deployment of law enforcement officers from nearby states. Some schools in the metropolitan area announced plans to proactively move to distance learning and business had been boarding up out of worries of potential unrest. The killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center on April 11, 2021, and the subsequent protests, intersected with the looming verdict. Days earlier, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters' told demonstrators in Minnesota that they should "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" if Chauvin's trial resulted in acquittal. [189] Twenty activist groups coordinated a large demonstration and march through the streets in Minneapolis near the Hennepin County Government Center building where the trial of Derek Chauvin was held. Protesters made several demands: lengthy sentences for the officers they deemed responsible for George Floyd's death, police reform legislation in Minnesota, to have charged dropped against demonstrators in Brooklyn Center and at other recent events, and for officials to end Operation Safety Net and other counter-protest measures. Protesters and law enforcement authorities did not engage with one another and the event was peaceful. [190] [191]

Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd on April 20, 2021. People gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center where the trial was held and at the 38th and Chicago Avenue street intersection in Minneapolis where Floyd died, to await the verdict at approximately 4 p.m. Crowds chanted in approval as the verdict was read that found Chauvin guilty on all charges. [192] As news of the Chauvin verdict spread, thousands of people marched in downtown Minneapolis and others gathered at 38th and Chicago Avenue in elation over the outcome. Activists chanted, “One down! Three to go!”, in reference to the looming trials of officers of the other three officers who participated in Floyd's arrest and subsequent death. [193] Protesters also called for reforms to policing and justice for other black men killed by police. [194] [195] [196]

Protest events occurred without incident and officials described them as "peaceful". Officials with the Operation Safety Net also reported three business burglaries in Minneapolis and that a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources vehicle deployed for potential unrest was broken into and had a firearm stolen from it. Officials did not make any arrests connected to April 19 events. [197]

Government mobilization Edit

State officials led a 12-week mission referred to as “Operation Safety Net” to amass law enforcement agencies and the state National Guard for the conclusion of the jury trial of Derek Chauvin. Officials did not prepare in advance for the contingency of unrest following another police shooting, such as the killing of Daunte Wright on April 11, which resulted in clashes between patrols mobilized by Operation Safety Net and demonstrators in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis. [198] The operation cost state officials $25 million, most of which was for mobilization of 3,500 guard troops, but included costs to mobilize other law enforcement agencies. [199] Roughly 120 law enforcement officers from the U.S. states of Nebraska and Ohio were also mobilized to the Twin Cities area. [200] Officials, though they encounter unrest in Brooklyn Center after Wright's shooting, encountered few issues during and after the Chauvin verdict announcement. [199] Some residents felt the mobilization of troops and state patrols subjected residents to further trauma. [198] Minneapolis officials also spent approximately $1 millions in contracts with seven community organizers to act as “positive outreach and support” during the protests and help deescalate potential tension between demonstrators and law enforcement. [201]

Sentencing Edit

People gathered at multiple locations in Minneapolis for the announcement of Chauvin's sentencing on June 25, 2021, when he received a 22.5-year prison term. The Star Tribune reported that crowds were smaller and more subdued than the jubilant celebrations in April 2021 when Chauvin was found guiltily. [202] Upon hearing of Chauvin's sentence, Floyd's family and civil rights activists expressed disappointment and said it should have been for the 30-year maximum, and they advocated for passage of the federal George Floyd Justice in Policing Act legislation. Several demonstrations were held in Minneapolis the evening of June 25 with protesters temporarily blocking vehicular traffic on downtown streets. Civil rights activists and protesters noted the forthcoming civil rights case against the four police officers at the scene of Floyd's death, and the criminal case against former officers Kueng, Lane, and Thao scheduled for March 2022. [203] [204] [202]

Several events were held in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death. The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Floyd's family, planned marches and rallies in Minneapolis, New York, and Houston for May 23, 2021, and called for two days of virtual activism everywhere in the United States in support of federal police reform legislation. [205] [206] [207]

On May 23, 2021, the Floyd family and civil rights activists led a rally in downtown Minneapolis outside the Hennepin County Government Center building, which was still fortified by fencing installed for the Chauvin trial that concluded a month earlier. Bridgett Floyd, who was George's sister, Al Sharpton, Floyd family Attorney Benjamin Crump were among those who spoke to the crowd of several hundred people. Activists who spoke hoped that Floyd's death, which had been a catalyst for changing policing policies in the United States, would result in passage of police reform legislation and examination of other officer-involved killings. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter attended the events. A crowd marched through downtown Minneapolis after the rally. [208]

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a statewide moment of silence for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the length of time Chauvin knelt on Floyd, for 1:00 p.m., on May 25, 2021. Said Walz, “George Floyd’s murder ignited a global movement and awakened many Minnesotans and people around the world to the systemic racism that our Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color have known for centuries”. [209]

Some activists in Minneapolis who were compelled to action by Floyd's death stated that Chauvin's guilty verdict would not be the end their protest movement. Alexander, Lane, and Thao—the other three officers at the scene of Floyd's death—awaited a trial scheduled for March 2022 for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. Activists believed that justice over Floyd's death included holding all four officers legally accountable, as well as having policy makers address what they perceived as systemic racism in policing. [210] [124] Several activists pledged to continue protesting until the conclusion of the criminal trials and the civil case against all four officers. [193] [211] Protests at the conclusion Chauvin's criminal case featured chants of the mantra, "One down, three to go". [202]

Remembering George Floyd: A year of protest

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

Floyd's murder in Minneapolis at the hands of the police has sparked a racial justice movement that spread across the world.

The president will mark the first anniversary of George Floyd's death by meeting with members of the Floyd family at the White House.

Floyd's family will meet privately with President Biden. And on Capitol Hill, there's progress involving a police reform bill. ABC News’ Elizabeth Schulze reports.

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Derek Chauvin Found Guilty Of Murdering George Floyd, Demonstrations Planned In NYC

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, igniting one the largest civil rights uprisings in American history, was convicted by a jury of murder and manslaughter on Tuesday.

Chauvin, who has been free on $1 million bond since October, was handcuffed and taken to prison immediately after the judge announced the verdict. He was found guilty of second degree murder, third degree murder, and manslaughter, and faces up to 40 years in prison, though he will likely face around 12 years.

A twelve-person jury reached the unanimous verdict on its second day of deliberations, following a three-week trial featuring testimony from nearly 50 witnesses. In order to find Chauvin guilty of second degree murder, the top charge, jurors had to determine that he "intended to commit [third degree] assault and that George Floyd sustained substantial bodily harm as a result," according to Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill's instruction.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Steve Schleicher spoke of Chauvin’s “indifference” to Floyd’s life, and urged jurors to recall how they felt the first time they had seen video of the altercation last May.

The prosecution also sought to separate the case from the larger conversations about police reform that Floyd's death had triggered around the country.

“Imagining a police officer committing a crime might be the most difficult thing you have to set aside, because that’s just not the way we think about police officers,” Schleicher said. “What the defendant did was not policing. What the defendant did was an assault.”

Chauvin and other officers had pursued Floyd because he had allegedly used a counterfeit bill to purchase a pack of cigarettes.

An attorney for Chauvin, Eric Nelson, characterized Floyd’s death as the result of a range of factors, including his health and the drugs that were found in his system — a conclusion that several medical experts rebutted. An autopsy prepared by the Hennepin County medical examiner attributed Floyd’s death to “subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

Nelson indicated this week that his client may appeal a guilty verdict on the grounds that jurors could have been swayed by outside forces.

Chauvin is expected to be sentenced in around eight weeks. In Minnesota, the presumptive sentence for murder is 12.5 years, though prosecutors may ask for a higher sentence.

The ruling comes nearly one year after Floyd’s death set off historic racial justice protests across the country. In New York, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand cuts to the NYPD budget, an overhauled police disciplinary system, and other reforms, some of which have since been enacted. Those demonstrations were overwhelmingly peaceful, but devolved at times into rioting and looting.

The NYPD's response to those demonstrations was widely criticized as aggressive and violent, prompting a pledge from Mayor Bill de Blasio to overhaul the NYPD’s protest policing efforts. But activists say that the NYPD has yet to adopt many of those promised reforms, and has continued to brutalize protesters without justification.

On Tuesday night, Black Lives Matter groups are planning to gather at Barclays Center and Times Square, among other locations.

At a press conference on Tuesday morning, the mayor said the city was prepared for anything in the wake of the verdict.

“I hope and pray that justice is served, and if people come out to in any way express themselves, that they realize the power of peaceful protest,” de Blasio said. “We’ll be ready to support peaceful protest.”

Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22-1/2 years for George Floyd murder

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - A Minnesota judge sentenced former police officer Derek Chauvin to 22-1/2 years in prison on Friday for the murder of George Floyd during an arrest in May 2020 on a Minneapolis sidewalk, video of which sparked global protests.

A jury found Chauvin, 45, guilty on April 20 of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after a trial that was widely seen as a landmark in the history of U.S. policing.

Before the sentence was handed down, Floyd's brothers told the court of their anguish, Chauvin's mother insisted on her son's innocence, and Chauvin himself briefly offered condolences to the Floyd family.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said it was important to recognize the pain of the Floyd family and acknowledged the global notoriety of the case only to say it would not sway him.

"I'm not going to attempt to be profound or clever because it's not the appropriate time," Cahill said, explaining his reasoning would be laid out in a 22-page memorandum. "I'm not basing my sentence on public opinion. I'm not basing it on the attempt to send any messages. The job of a trial court judge is to apply the law to specific facts and to deal with individual cases."

The hearing began with prosecutors asking several members of Floyd's family to address the court. Floyd's 7-year-old daughter Gianna was first, appearing in a video recording.

"I ask about him all the time," she said in the video as Chauvin sat before the judge dressed in a gray suit and tie, a blue mask covering his nose and mouth. "My daddy always used to help me brush my teeth." Asked what she would say to him if she could see him again, she said: "It would be I miss you and I love you."

Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year prison sentence, double the upper limit indicated in sentencing guidelines for a first-time offender. Cahill ruled earlier this month that prosecutors have established grounds for giving Chauvin a harsher sentence.

The defense had asked for probation and had unsuccessfully sought a retrial ahead of an expected appeal.

Video of Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020 caused outrage around the world and the largest protest movement seen in the United States in decades.

Floyd's brother Terrence Floyd addressed Chauvin directly during his victim impact statement on Friday.

"What was going through your head as you had your knee on my brother's neck?" he asked. He told the judge he wanted the maximum sentence. "We don't want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We've been through that already."

Philonise Floyd, another brother, said he was haunted by the videos of Floyd's death, which were replayed countless times at Chauvin's trial.

Chauvin addressed the judge, saying he could not give a full statement due to "additional legal matters."

"But very briefly though, I do want to give my condolences to the Floyd family," he said. "There's going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope things will give you some peace of mind. Thank you."

Chauvin's mother, Carolyn Pawlenty, told the judge she would always believe her son was innocent and that her life's two happiest moments were giving birth to Chauvin and pinning his police badge on him when he joined the Minneapolis Police Department.

"Derek has played over and over again in his head the events of that day," she said, her voice quavering at times. "I have seen the toll it has taken on him. I believe a lengthy sentence will not serve Derek well. When you sentence my son, you will also be sentencing me."

In a sentencing memorandum, prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general's office wrote that Chauvin's crime "shocked the conscience of the Nation."

In a six-page ruling last month, Cahill found that prosecutors had shown there were four aggravating factors that would allow him to hand down a longer prison term than sentencing guidelines would dictate.

The judge agreed that Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority that he treated Floyd with particular cruelty that he committed the crime as part of a group with three other officers and that he committed the murder in front of children.

Through his attorney Eric Nelson, Chauvin had asked in court filings that the judge to sentence him to probation, writing that the murder of Floyd was "best described as an error made in good faith."

Chauvin was helping arrest Floyd on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill.

Chauvin has been held at the state's maximum security prison in Oak Park Heights since his conviction.

In Minnesota, convicted people with good behavior spend two-thirds of their sentence in prison and the final third on supervised release.

In 2019, the former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was sentenced by a different judge to 12-1/2 years in prison after he was found guilty of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for fatally shooting an Australian American woman, Justine Damond.

The three other police officers involved in Floyd's arrest were, like Chauvin, fired the day after. The three are due to face trial next year on charges of aiding and abetting Floyd's murder.

(Reporting by Nicholas Pfosi in Minneapolis and Jonathan Allen in New York Editing by Donna Bryson and Grant McCool)

Slave patrols and chokeholds: A historic look at police brutality and racism in the US

Black Americans are two-and-a-half times as likely as white Americans to be killed by police officers. The death of George Floyd is another moment of reckoning in the history of racism and police brutality in the US.

Stun guns, tear gas and rubber bullets. It’s hard to look beyond what’s unfolding in the US right this moment.

US President Donald Trump has vowed to use the military to ‘dominate streets’ while taking aim at ANTIFA activists for the violence.

The protesting across the country follows a long history of law enforcement and civil rights campaigns in the US. This timeline provides key moments to help you understand how George Floyd’s death fits into the bigger picture of policing and race in the US.

Slave Patrols

Policing in the southern-states has its origins in slave patrols: groups of armed white volunteers using vigilante tactics to enforce slavery. The groups located and returned black slaves, especially those who had escaped, to US southern states. Slave patrols began in South Carolina in the early 1700s then began being practiced throughout the colonies.

Slave patrols were legitimised through Fugitive Slave Laws. These laws required that all escaped slaves be returned to their “masters” even if found in “free states.” It was also known as the “Bloodhound Bill.”

Slave patrols were officially dissolved after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation, though there are accounts of informal patrols continuing after this period.

Jim Crow laws

After slavery was formally abolished, official slave patrols dissolved. Government policies in the southern states called the ‘Black Codes’ dictated who formerly enslaved people could work and for how much compensation. Codes, particularly in the south, gave a legal avenue to control the lives of black citizens.

At the time, police departments were being established in major cities to protect the wealthy. Police were unarmed until 1858.

During this era, the lynching of African Americans was commonplace and perpetrators were not punished by law enforcement. The Ku Klux Klan could be considered to be at its most ruthless in this era. The judicial system did not hold police accountable for their own brutality or for failing to intervene when black people were murdered.

One of the most violent incidents that marked this period was the Tulsa race massacre in 1921, and the anniversary fell just a few days ago, on Monday. Mobs of white residents attacked black residents after a 19-year-old black shoe shiner was accused of assaulting a 17-year-old girl. White residents looted stores and burned homes. The death toll is estimated to be between 39 and 300 people, and thousands were left homeless. The massacre was largely omitted from local, state, and national histories, this year it became part of the Oklahoma school curriculum.

After World War II and the rise of the civil rights movement, Jim Crow laws ended in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Police brutality and acquittals

Police brutality has been a catalyst for protests since the 1960s, including the Watts Riots of 1965 and the Detroit Riot of 1967.

Riots also broke out in Miami in 1980 when 33-year-old Arthur McDuffie died from injuries sustained at the hands of four officers trying to arrest him after a high-speed chase. The officers were acquitted.

The beating of construction worker Rodney King in 1991 by white Los Angeles police officers - which was filmed by a civilian - sparked further debate about civil rights and triggered a six-day riot after the acquittal of the officers.

The rise of the Black Lives Matter movement

The shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin in 2012 at the hands of a volunteer Neighbourhood Watch person George Zimmerman yet again triggered an outcry on the treatment of African Americans in contemporary US society. A year later, Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges, sparking protests and the birth of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, which made way for the movement.

Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States are documented to have killed 7,666 people. The number of citizens killed by police in the US has been shown to disproportionately affect black citizens, despite only making up only 13 percent of the total population.

Between 2013 and 2019, police in the United States are documented to have killed 7,666 people. The number of citizens killed by police in the US has been shown to disproportionately affect black citizens, despite only making up only 13 percent of the total population.

In 2014, Eric Garner died after police put him in a chokehold in New York. The officer was not charged with a crime but was ultimately fired.

In that same year, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by police in Missouri. Again, the officer who fired the bullet was not charged.

Donald Trump’s presidency has been earmarked by race-tensions, including Charlottesville’s ‘Unite the Right’ rally in 2017 where a car was driven into a group of counter-protesters. Trump did not denounce the demonstrations but said, “You also had some very fine people on both sides.” Neo-Nazi James Alex Fields was sentenced to life in prison for the death of a woman killed during the protest.

The weeks before the riots

In February this year, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two white men while jogging in his neighbourhood outside Georgia. Father and son Gregory and Travis McMichael were charged over his murder, but only after the video emerged.

Tensions were mounting, compounded by the coronavirus outbreak and its disproportionate impact on the African American community.

Weeks later, on March 13 in Louisville, Kentucky, three white policemen forced their way into the home of a black woman, Breonna Taylor, and shot her as part of a drug investigation. No drugs were found in her home.

Another video went viral last week showing a white woman calling the police to say she felt her life was threatened by an African American birdwatcher in New York’s Central Park. The man, Christian Cooper, had only asked the woman to put her dog on a leash.

Oh, when Karens take a walk with their dogs off leash in the famous Bramble in NY’s Central Park, where it is clearly posted on signs that dogs MUST be leashed at all times, and someone like my brother (an avid birder) politely asks her to put her dog on the leash.

— Melody Cooper (@melodyMcooper) May 25, 2020

Then footage emerged of George Floyd, 46, being allegedly killed by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while pleading with the officer.

The Minneapolis Police Department itself has long been accused of racism, with the department receiving many excessive force complaints. The police officer, 44-year-old Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd had several complaints filed against him.

George Floyd died on Monday and protests began in Minneapolis on Tuesday. The four officers involved were stood down after the video went viral. Chauvin was charged with murder on Friday.

Two separate agencies, including the FBI, have been called to investigate.

Protests that started in the city have now spread across the country, and even internationally, as the US once again reckons with racial bias within its law enforcement.

Derek Chauvin sentencing: Former police officer sentenced to 22-and-a-half years for murder of George Floyd

Former Minneapolis police officerDerek Chauvin has been sentenced to 22-and-a-half years in prison for the murder of George Floyd.

Chauvin, 45, was found guilty by a jury in April of second and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for pressing his knee into Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he begged for his life and repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”

Mr Floyd, a Black man, was killed in May 2020 after police officers responded to a call that he had used a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in the city.

The sentence is ten years more than the average sentence for the crime, which 12.5 years.

Sentencing Chauvin, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill said, “My comments will be brief.

“What the sentence is not based on is emotion or sympathy, but at the same time I want acknowledge the deep and tremendous pain that all the families are feeling, especially the Floyd family. I acknowledge and hear the pain you are feeling.

“I am not going to attempt to be profound or clever it is not the appropriate time. I am not basing my sentencing on public opinion, or any attempt to send any messages.”

Mr Floyd’s murder was captured by bystanders on their phones and the viral video led to months of racial injustice protests across the United States.

Chauvin, who wore a grey suit and tie, gave his “condolences to the Floyd family” as he was jailed.

The judge ruled last month that Chauvin had been “particularly cruel” in killing Mr Floyd in front of children and had abused his authority, and the prosecution had asked for a 30-year sentence.

Earlier in the hearing Chauvin shad broken his silence, but said he was not be able to give a formal statement because of other legal issues.

“I want to give my condolences to the Floyd family, there is going to be some other information in the future that would be of interest and I hope that things will give you some peace of mind, thank you.”

Chauvin’s guilty verdict marks one of the rare times a white, on-duty police officer has been convicted for murdering a Black man.

Chauvin’s attorneys, who are likely to appeal the sentence, had previously asked the court to give the former officer probation and time served instead of jail time, owing to potential health risks and Chauvin’s lack of previous criminal charges.

Under Minnesota law Chauvin will serve two-thirds of the sentence in prison, and the remaining time on supervised release.

Chauvin will also get credit for time already served in prison as he awaited his sentencing.

Three other police officers involved in the incident, J Alexander Kueng, 27, Thomas Lane, 38, and Tou Thao, 35, face charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

They had been due to go trial in August but that has now been moved back to March 2022.

The four officers have also been charged in federal court with violating Mr Floyd’s civil rights during the fatal arrest.

Chauvin also faces a second federal indictment for allegedly violating the civil rights of a 14-year-old boy in 2017.

During that incident he is accused of placing his knee on the teenager’s neck for 17 minutes, causing him to pass out.

The Justice Department is now investigating the Minneapolis Police Department for the alleged systematic violations of the civil rights of people in the city.

Chauvin has been kept in solitary confinement to prevent him being attacked by other prisoners.

Relations between the police and the broader Minneapolis community are still frayed, amid the recent killing of Winston Smith, a Black man shot by two county deputies serving on federal taskforce earlier this month.

During the sentencing hearing Matthew Frank, Minnesota assistant attorney general, thanked members of the police department for sticking “to their oath and commitment as police officers to speak openly and honestly” about policing and their training.

“Those officers did not hide behind a blue wall,” he said.

And he added: “This case wasn’t about all police officers, it was about Derek Chauvin disregarding all that training he received, assaulting Mr Floyd until he suffocated to death.

“Mr Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority as a police officer by disregarding his training.”

Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson told the court that he understood it was “tasked with a difficult job.”

“The impact this case has had on this community is profound. It has been at the forefront of our national consciousness and has weaved its way into nearly every facet of our lives, from the entertainment we consume to presidential politics…from protests to conspiracy theories,” he said.

“The death of George Floyd was tragic, he is loved by his family and his death is justifiably mourned by the people whose lives he impacted.”

He added that Chauvin had not even supposed to have been at work on the day of the killing.

“His brain is littered with what-ifs. What-if things had gone differently, what-if he had not gone in to work, what-if he had never responded to that call, what-if, what-if, what-if,” he said.

“This is a case that has changed the world to some degree, and I hope that it is positive.”

Seven minutes, 46 seconds

Despite talk of defunding or even abolishing police in Minneapolis, Bicking said, neither outcome looks likely.

“The net effect of it has been virtually nothing has changed,” he added. “The people in our city government don’t act like they realize this is the epicenter of a movement, a huge movement, and something which is history-making and which is for better or worse going to really cause some change here.”

Black Americans are hopeful Chauvin will be convicted. But many have learned not to get their hopes up after disappointing outcomes in high-profile cases that have led to acquittal or no indictment in recent years.

“Black people have been let down a lot, on so many levels, and when it comes to trust, I think as a people we definitely have trust issues. Rightfully so,” said Kamau Marshall, a former spokesperson for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and a former senior congressional staffer. “We all know what the outcome should be, but what we’ve seen in the past with various outcomes in most cases have not gone the best way.”

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced that a grand jury voted not to indict any officers involved in the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who was experiencing a psychotic episode when police handcuffed him, put a mesh hood over his head and pinned him to the ground until he was unconscious.

The grand jury’s decision was a disappointment, but not a surprise for Tianna Mañón, CEO of Mañón Media Management and a former journalist who now works with reporters and newsrooms on equity in coverage and storytelling.

“You knew this was coming and yet it still hurts,” Mañón said. “It’s a pain you can’t prepare for because these people are just gonna continue living their lives, and not even just continue living their lives but within this community, so to speak.”

POLITICO Dispatch: March 2

The Minneapolis police officer who pinned down George Floyd’s neck with his knee for almost nine minutes will be tried for murder this month. Many officers have been indicted for the deaths of Black people, but not convicted.

Sakira Cook, senior director of the justice program at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said she hopes the prosecution can prove that Chauvin acted outside the bounds of the law and took Floyd’s life with what he thought was impunity.

“It is not often the case that officers are arrested, indicted and then put on trial for these types of incidents,” she said. “So anytime that does happen, that is a step in the right direction.”

There’s no consensus on what Floyd’s legacy will be. Some say it’s too soon to say, while others envision a future where police departments cease to exist as conversations about rethinking public safety and who should respond to what continue. But perhaps Floyd’s daughter said it best.

“I keep replaying in my mind the clip of his daughter saying, ‘My daddy changed the world,’” Cook said. “And that, for me, sums up beautifully what I hope his legacy will be. I hope we will look at that moment as the spark that ignited a transformation in this country on all fronts but also one that permeated the rest of the globe.”

The history of police brutality against black people in America

The horrific killing of George Floyd – an unarmed black man - at the hands of a white police officer has catapulted the fury over racial injustice in the US back into focus.

Footage of an officer kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for nine minutes as he pleaded for breath sickened not just the US, but the world, and triggered mass protests.

The killing sparked a “tinder box” – so says Kehinde Andrews, Professor of Black Studies at Birmingham City University, and Tom Davies, Senior Lecturer in American History at the University of Sussex – igniting anger and frustrations among black people in the US that were always bubbling under the surface.

“It’s probably the clearest and most shocking footage of something that happens with painful regularity,” Dr Davies told ITV News.

“It was visceral for anyone watching the video and for African Americans it was just too much,” Douglas Flowe, Assistant Professor of History at Washington University, said.

Sadly, George Floyd’s death is another chapter in a long American history of urban unrest, triggered by the treatment of black people by police forces.

“Social media has had an impact of spreading the stories,” Professor Andrews says, pointing to the death of Eric Garner who died after being put in a chokehold by a police officer.

Video footage – in which Garner said he couldn’t breathe 11 times – drew widespread outrage as it showed a NYPD officer pushing Garner’s head into the pavement.

It was the death of Garner and the shooting of Michael Brown – a young black teenager by a white police officer – that was the starting point of the Black Lives Matter protests.

Protesters took to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014 chanting ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ in response to the death of Brown - who they say had his hands up in surrender - an FBI investigation said otherwise.

Since then, there have been the deaths of Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland and Philando Castle, among many others.

The names have become as synonymous with police brutality as Rodney King – a black man who was viciously attacked by four police officers in 1992 – leaving him with skull fractures, broken bones and teeth, and permanent brain damage.

“Broadly speaking, throughout US history African Americans have never enjoyed the same relationship with law enforcement as have white Americans,” Dr Davies explains.

“They have more often been the targets of police actions – often violent, predatory, and hostile in nature - than they have been the objects of police protection, particularly in the case of poor and working-class black communities.

"And this history of discriminatory policing is of course a key factor in leading to the situation we see today.”

But to understand the systemic racism that is embedded in police forces in the US, you have to look back at the racial order in the US and the reason this exists in the first place – slavery.

“America was founded upon the principle of reducing Africans to subhuman chattel, and much of our early culture was about solidifying that principle, and maintaining psychologically and physically, for all Americans,” Professor Flowe says.

“It is naïve for anyone to believe that the tremendous centrifugal force of that arrangement could somehow evaporate as soon as slavery ended.”

Since the abolition of slavery, stereotypes of black people, in particular black men, have existed – they have been “portrayed, deliberately as a dangerous, violent threat”, Dr Davies explains.

“The widespread phenomenon of lynching was about striking fear into the hearts of African Americans and ‘keeping them in their place’, showing them how white supremacy would work, making clear the idea that black freedom – be it political, economic, social - wouldn’t be accepted,” Dr Davies added.

“A big part of trying to intimidate and control the black community involved both demonising and brutalising black men, first and foremost.”

The stereotype of ‘seeing a black man as a threat’ is one that has never gone away - it’s a long standing trope in American political and social history.

When a police officer stops a black person they are more inclined to be more aggressive – black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people .

“There has been a habit of explaining black death at the hands of police officers as tragic, but necessary to keep the public safe,” Prof Flowe explains.

“The sight of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police officers has forced everyone to ask the question: how often does this happen in cases that have simply been dismissed as necessary deadly force.”

But in a country where police officers face little to no consequences for their actions – 99% of killings by police from 2013-19 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime – there is no disincentive for an officer to draw his gun.

In 1992, four officers were found not guilty in the beating of Rodney King, no officer has been charged in the death of Eric Garner and most recently, in the death of Breonna Taylor, no officer has been arrested or charged.

Alongside this, the Supreme Court created a legal doctrine around 40 years ago that shields law enforcement and government officials from accountability for constitutional violations – like the right to be free from excessive police force.

The legal doctrine protects government officials from liability for conduct on the job unless they violate "clearly established" constitutional rights.

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, legal experts are calling on the Supreme Court to rethink 'qualified immunity' as they believe the standard victims must meet to hold law enforcement accountable has become exceedingly difficult to reach.

Protesters have also been calling out the militarisation of the police and the use of military equipment – which began under Ronald Reagan.

This has only increased under President Donald Trump who urged law enforcement officials to “dominate” protesters and has called for a more forceful approach.

The militarisation of the police was introduced in the context of the War on Drugs in the 1980s, which incentivised police officers to arrest people on drug charges.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1986 gave billions to wage the war on drugs and encouraged mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, Prof Flowe explains.

But instead of going to college campuses where drugs were rife, they targeted black communities.

“This again is another chapter in the history of police treating African Americans different to white,” Dr Davies said.

“The War on Drugs was fought primarily in poor and working class black inner-city neighbourhoods.

“White spaces where drugs were used – such as college campuses – were left alone, they weren’t interested in that.

“They targeted people who had the least social capital, or the least economic potential to defend themselves legally.”

This helped to further fuel tensions between poor, working class black communities and the police – and made “our communities feel like war zones” – Prof Flowe says.

Police forces failed to understand that crime is systematic – if you are born into an impoverished urban centre, which is predominately black, where there are not many jobs, people rely on welfare and children attend poorly funded public schools, then crime can easily be born out of these social conditions.

Dr Davies explains that this “cyclical problem, which is tied to long-standing discrimination in housing, employment, education and healthcare” has created “pronounced poverty in parts of the US” where police brutality is often the worst.

And there is a lack of understanding of “the impact of society and economic isolation in a capitalist country as a factor of crime”, Prof Flowe says.

“They have placed the focus on punishment and policing, rather than systemic changes for equality," he explained.

So how an can police forces change and racial equality be addressed?

National police reform is needed and the outlaw of certain practices, Prof Flowe and Dr Davies say.

The campaign group – 8cantwait – points to eight policies which they believe will help to reduce killings by police and violence, these include:

Banning chokeholds and strangleholds

Requiring officers to de-escalate situations, where possible

Require warning before shooting

Require officers to exhaust all other alternatives before shooting

Require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers

Ban shooting at moving vehicles

Establish a Force Continuum that restricts the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations

Require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against civilians.

Dr Davies says there needs to be a greater sense there will be consequences for police officers and their violent actions.

“Maybe if we see strong decisive sentences and punishments handed out to the police officers in the death of George Floyd, then that might prompt some change,” he added.

But Prof Flowe says reform is also needed so police officers “foster a new understanding of that fact that crime is systematic.”

“It is not simply individual and deep systemic solutions are required to handle all social problems,” he adds.