It all started on 25 May when a 46-year-old black resident of Minneapolis was detained by the police for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 note and physically resisting law enforcement, according to police officers’ accounts. The man, who was later identified as George Floyd, was brutally pinned to the ground during his arrest, with one officer, Derek Chauvin, pressing his knee against the man’s neck for more than eight minutes despite the victim’s repeated calls that he could not breathe. Floyd was pronounced dead an hour later.
The events surrounding Floyd’s arrest are now painfully familiar around the world, as they were caught on camera by passersby and shared online, provoking public outcry.
Following the incident, protests erupted in Minneapolis, and soon spread to other cities across the United States, including Atlanta, New York, and Washington DC.
- Riots continue across the US. Minnesota has experienced the highest level of civil unrest following Floyd’s death. While many protests remained peaceful and called for justice, some demonstrators clashed with police and burned cars. Looters have also been in evidence around the state and a curfew has been imposed.
© REUTERS / LUCAS JACKSONDamaged goods are seen inside an office supplies store during a demonstration against the death in Minneapolis police custody of African-American man George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 29, 2020
- National Guard deployed. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz called in the US National Guard, the largest such deployment in the history of the state. The Governors of Atlanta and Georgia also resorted to the National Guard while declaring states of emergency in their respective jurisdictions. In Dallas, Phoenix, Indianapolis and Denver, police officers fired tear gas at protesters, while a number of arrests were made in New York after projectiles were thrown at police.
© REUTERS / CAITLIN OCHSProtesters raise their hands as they stand in front of police officers during a protest following the death of African-American George Floyd who was seen in graphic video footage gasping for breath as a Minneapolis Police officer knelt on his neck, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., May 29, 2020
- Demonstrators march to the White House. On Friday, the White House was put under lockdown as protesters gathered nearby holding photographs of Floyd, and chanting his last words “I can’t breathe”. US President Donald Trump says he was inside the building at that time, “watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe”.
- Donald Trump’s reaction to the unrest. The US president slammed the “thugs” who were “dishonoring the memory of George Floyd” on Twitter, and promised to start shooting “when the looting starts” – a tweet that was quickly flagged by the platform for “glorifying violence”. Trump also referred to Floyd's death as a “terrible, terrible thing” and asked the Justice Department to speed up its investigation into the matter.
....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 29, 2020
- Legal response. All four officers involved in Floyd’s detention have been fired from the police department, while Chauvin has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He is expected to appear in court in Minneapolis on Monday.