On May 25th, 2020, George Perry Floyd Jr, an American hip-hop artist aged 46, was neck restrained by officer Derek Chauvin, Minneapolis, which led to hos death.
The officer pressed his right knee on Floyd’s neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds even as Floyd kept saying that he was having difficulty breathing. Floyd was arrested for allegedly passing a $20 counterfeit bill at a retail outlet just minutes before his death.
Derek Chauvin, the officer on duty and his associates, which included second officer J Alexander Kueng, third officer Thomas Lane, and fourth officer Tou Thao, were fired and charged with second-degree murder. Keung and Lane further restrained Floyd while Thao prevented bystanders from intervening.
The death instigated protests and demonstrations in 2000 cities in the U.S. and worldwide against
- Police violence
- Lack of police accountability
Here is a series of events that followed Floyds’ death.
- Minneapolis City Council banned chokeholds and neck restraints to stress the fact that police officers cannot use excessive force no matter what the provocation is.
- Protests began simmering on May 26th when a small crowd gathered outside Cup Foods with placards bearing “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” the place where Floyd was killed.
- The area at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and East 38th Street, where Floyd was killed, became an overnight makeshift memorial. On May 26th, placards paying tribute to him could be seen in conjecture with the Black Lives Matter movement.
- People started showing up slowly at various venues and demonstrating against police excesses. On May 26th, hundreds marched to the Minneapolis Police Station third precinct carrying posters and calling slogans, “Justice for George” and “I Can’t Breathe.”
- Violence escalated, and demonstrations that began peacefully ended with vandalizing of stores that evening. Police station windows were shattered, and a part of it was set on fire. The riot police reacted violently using tear gas and rubber bullets when protestors pelted stones at them.
- Over the next few days, protests, marches, and demonstrations took place peacefully, but some turned violent. The Star Tribune estimated that about 570 businesses in the St. Paul area in Minneapolis were either vandalized or destroyed in fire.
- Night-time curfews were imposed in Minneapolis in Dakota County. On May 29th, 500 Minnesota National Guard soldiers took their place to ensure law and order, but in spite, 1000 protestors took to the streets on Interstate 35.
- Protests sparked demanding justice for the dead in most major cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto, Milan, Mashhad, Columbus, Denver, Ohio, Houston, Louisville, Des Moines, Charlotte, Memphis, North Carolina, Oakland, Oregon, Portland, San Jose, and Seattle.
- Protests also broke outside the Washington White House and Chauvin’s residence in Florida. Twelve major cities-imposed curfews on May 30th.
- Statues and monuments associated with racism and slavery, such as the Columbus, Cecil Rhodes, and Belgium’s King Leopold, were vandalized during the protests. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds widely became commemorated as Moment of Silence to honor Floyd.
- Solidarity demonstrations in the United Kingdom saw protestors gathering in the cities of London, Birmingham, Liverpool, and Manchester in June even as the country was grappling with COVID-19 pandemic. Protests have been organized by the local ‘Stand Up to Racism’ movements.
- Vandalism of historical statues including spraying of graffiti on the plinth of Prime Minister Churchill’s statue in Parliament Square and the toppling of the statue of Edward Colston, a 17th-century slave trader into Bristol’s harbor on June 7th, were among the most notable ones.
Leaders of The World React
U.S. President Donald Trump and other living ex-Presidents Barack Obama, Clinton, and George Bush, expressed regret on Floyd’s death. U.S. Ambassador in Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, and China expressed concern and condemned the brutal killing. The U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, put up a large Black Lives Matter banner on June 13th. ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ in Upper case was painted in front of the White House by its Mayor in Washington DC.
Prime Minister Trudeau encouraged Canadians to stand up against racism. China, Germany, Iran, Ireland, Peru, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, Venezuela all expressed anguish over the murder. British Prime
Minister Boris Johnson went on to urge the protestors to do so peacefully and by following the protocols of social distancing in times of the pandemic.
International Organisations and Religious Institutions React
International organizations such as the African Union, the European Union, and the United Nations have categorically criticized the killing and condemned the police heavy-handedness.
Religious leaders such as Dalai Lama, Pope Francis, and other church Bishops, including the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church, condemned the killing. They called for peace and prayers for Floyd and his family.