George Floyd’s death at the hands of police has sparked outrage as protesters spill into the streets to beg for justice and denounce law enforcement misconduct.
Rabat – “Arrest him and we’ll go home,” protesters outside of the Minneapolis Police Department called for justice to be brought against the police officers who were responsible for the death of George Floyd earlier this week. Protesters soon set the police station ablaze, along with a number of businesses and vehicles throughout the Midwest city.
US President Donald Trump responded with threats, implying the protesters should be shot.
Two days of protests have sent Minneapolis up in flames as riots and looting ensued. Protestors called not only for justice after the death of George Floyd but also for an end to the ongoing racism and police brutality that plagues the United States and has resulted in the numerous deaths of innocent black victims at the hands of police.
Tensions between civilians and police officers rose on Thursday, May 28, as police met both peaceful and non-peaceful protests with rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash bombs.
Multiple shootings marked the city’s uproar alongside the vandalizing, looting, and destruction of numerous businesses. The riots have resulted in at least one civilian fatality, the result, some believe, of a pawn shop owner taking action against a person the owner said was looting his business.
Trump took to Twitter calling the protesters “THUGS” and noting he would be calling in the National Guard to “get the job done right.”
Twitter, under its new regulations, attached a warning to the post for violating its rules about glorifying violence. The social media platform has prevented users from responding to or liking the president’s post.
Trump also quoted former Miami police chief Walter Headley who said in a 1967 news conference, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
While many have condemned the justice-seeking tactics of rioters, those taking to the streets told local Minnesota news agency the StarTribune, “We have to get their attention somehow.”
Advocates and op-ed writers have suggested that rather than denouncing the looting that is happening in response to killings, the public should condemn a different kind of looting.
Peter Gowan, writer for American magazine Jacobin, opines, “The real looting in our society comes from the military, the police, the pharmaceutical companies, private equity, the landlords, the real estate speculators, and the billionaires—not the protesters against police brutality.”
George Floyd’s brother told CNN, “I understand and I see why a lot of people are doing a lot of different things around the world. I don’t want them to lash out like that, but I can’t stop people right now. Because they have pain. They have the same pain I feel. I want everything to be peaceful, but I can’t make everybody be peaceful. I can’t. It’s hard.”
On Monday, May 25, white police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into 46-year-old George Floyd’s neck while Floyd moaned and pleaded for help. A video that captured the deadly arrest recorded some of Floyd’s last words, “Please. Please. Please, I can’t breathe. Please man, please somebody, please man. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”
Ignoring the cries for help, Chauvin refused to release Floyd from the chokehold, a restraining technique that law enforcement officials have discouraged and in some places banned. The Minneapolis Police Department manual confirms that officers can use neck restraints and chokeholds in a life-or-death situation. Floyd, unarmed, in no way appeared to threaten the lives of officers taking charge of his arrest.
Minneapolis promptly fired the four police officers involved in the case, but many hope prosecutors will bring charges of murder against them.
The incident is just one of many that have sparked outrage against racially biased policing. The killings have been happening for years. As access to quick video technology has increased, so has the number of atrocities caught on film and the awareness of violent acts.
Minneapolis is not the only city where people are responding to George Floyd’s death. Hundreds of protesters have taken to the streets throughout Ohio and Colorado. Artists worldwide are painting murals and making countless tributes to Floyd and his family in the wake of their loss.