Nearly 200 Minneapolis businesses have been damaged by firebombs or looted as violent protests spread in the state after George Floyd was killed.
A police officer, identified as Derek Chauvin, arrested Floyd and later kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, impairing his ability to breathe. Police arrested Chauvin on Friday.
During the ordeal, Chauvin repeatedly ignored pleas by bystanders who begged him to get off of Floyd’s neck. Floyd could be heard whimpering and begging for his life. At one point, he even called out to his deceased mother. Then, he stopped breathing.
Officers removed his limp body from the scene. Three of Chauvin’s fellow officers stood by as this scene unfolded and did nothing.
All four officers were subsequently fired.
Facing The Backlash
The backlash to Floyd’s death has been swift and fierce.
African Americans have historically complained of being abused and denied due process during their encounters with law enforcement agents. Local residents and activists say they are “done dying” and will not restore peace until they get justice.
The National Guard was immediately called in to restore order to the state.
Social justice activists say Chauvin’s arrest Friday is not sufficient. They say his colleagues should also face charges.
Minnesota Governor, Tim Walz had to apologise to CNN after police officers arrested its crew during live coverage.
CNN’s crew, one of whom was African American on-air reporter, said they identified themselves several times as members of the media. But, they were ignored. They were later released.
The image of Chauvin’s smug face as he kneeled on Floyd, while keeping both of his hands in his pocket, will be forever seared in my mind. I can only imagine the distress Floyd felt having a man’s full weight pressed on his neck.
President Trump Weighs In
There has also been severe backlash to US President, Donald Trump who, on Twitter, insulted Minneapolis officials saying they lacked 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,” the president said.
“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he said in a tweet. “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.”
Floyd’s death was yet another painful reminder of the way law enforcement agents treat people of colour, particularly black men, in the United States.
In my own country, The Bahamas, we have issues with police brutality and the way law enforcement officials deal with young black men. I frequently write on this topic in my blog. You may read one of my articles here.
How We View Black Men
Unfortunately, many people view black men as threats, thugs, monsters, or an unruly bunch that needs to be tamed.
Just this week, Amy Cooper, a white woman in New York, threatened to call cops on Christian Cooper (no relation), a black birdwatcher in New York after he asked her to put her dog on a leash.
Christian Cooper recorded their interaction on his cell phone and rightfully so. Because sadly, calling the police on a black man in America could have deadly consequences.