By Alberto Garcia
George Floyd died while he was being arrested by four Minneapolis police officers after they detained him for allegedly having used a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store. Eyewitness phone videos and a store security camera show officers handcuffed and pinned Floyd on the street and one officer put his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck. Mr. Floyd, 46, can be heard saying he couldn’t breathe, yet the officer held him in that position for over five minutes until an ambulance arrived. Floyd was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.The officer, Derek Chauvin, and three other officers were fired from the police department on Tuesday after both the police chief and mayor of Minneapolis said the officers’ actions were not within the standards and policies of their city. Chauvin, who is white, has had 11 citizen complaints filed against him, two of which resulted in disciplinary actions. On Friday morning, Chauvin was arrested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
“The investigation is ongoing,” said Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, adding that he anticipated charges against the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death.
The three other officers involved in the incident have now invoked their 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.
After Floyd’s death, protests broke out in Minneapolis as the community reacted to the senseless killing. On Thursday, a local police station was burned to the ground amid the protests. Other protests have broken out n various cities around the country.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey condemned the actions of his own officer and said Floyd was “murdered”.
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense,” Frey posted on his Twitter account.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the state’s National Guard to provide security in Minneapolis. More than 500 National Guard soldiers are now guarding banks, grocery stores, and pharmacies around the city.
Some of the protests have included incidents of rioting where stores and cars have been vandalized and some set on fire. In nearby St. Paul, Minnesota, more than 170 businesses were damaged or looted.
Community activists are condemning the rioting as counterproductive to the protests but understand the community’s frustrations with another senseless killing of a black man by a white police officer.
“They have experienced trauma,” said Shanene Herbert, a community organizer from Minneapolis. “They have experienced trauma. Seeing your friends, your families and even yourself harassed by the police and killed by the police, it’s traumatic. And they don’t know what to do with that,” Herbert added.
On Friday morning, a CNN reporter was arrested in Minneapolis while doing a live report from the scene of one protest. Police moved in and arrested correspondent Omar Jimenez and his crew on live TV.
Jimenez, who is Black and Hispanic, and the crew members were released within a few hours after they proved they were media.
Governer Walz released a public apology for the arrest.
“There is absolutely no reason something like this should happen,” Walz said, adding that he is “owning” this and taking full responsibility. “This is a very public apology to that team. It should not happen.”