Minneapolis Goes Rampant for Justice: In Response to George Floyd

Minneapolis Goes Rampant for Justice: In Response to George Floyd

Jacqueline Kim, Staff Writer

Since the brutal video of George Floyd pinned to the ground went viral, making rounds across multiple social media platforms, individuals around the world have stood to offer their own support to the Floyd family and black communities. According to reports, Mr. Floyd was confronted and essentially attacked by ex-police officer, Derek Chauvin, after a store clerk from Cup Foods had claimed that Mr. Floyd had paid with counterfeit money. The shocking video shows Mr. Floyd on the ground, detained by Chauvin with his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck. Chauvin reportedly held this position for eight minutes and 46 seconds despite Mr. Floyd’s repeated pleas that he could not breathe. Mr. Floyd’s final words have been picked up in respect to his name and death, in order to convict the injustice within the police system. Chauvin persisted in this detainment two minutes and 53 seconds after Mr. Floyd became still and unresponsive, and gathering crowds began to call for help. Unfortunately, Mr. Floyd died under police custody, and his death has sparked vigor for racial justice across the world.

Since George Floyd’s death, his home city of Minneapolis has taken it upon itself to fight for his name and racial equality. Thousands have taken to the streets in protests that quickly turned violent. Buildings and businesses have been set ablaze and burned to the ground, while many police stations and vehicles have been damaged or destroyed. Significant monuments and public structures have been vandalized, and many stores and shops have been looted. Protesters have done all they can to fight for awareness and justice, empowered by George Floyd’s death and his lasting words: “I can’t breathe.” Many protesters fought by throwing rocks, glass bottles, and fireworks, while the police retaliated with tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper pellets. By the Friday following Mr. Floyd’s death, May 29th, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. However, protests only intensified after charges had been laid as they called for more extreme charges. On Friday night, May 29th, one of the worst nights of the protests, the police reported that 27 individuals were arrested and detained at the Hennepin County Jail as riots prevailed. According to Fox 9 News (Minneapolis police chief promises action Saturday after 27 arrested in overnight riots), between Friday morning and Saturday morning alone, there were 383 reported calls for “burglaries, property damage, and business alarms,” as well as an additional 131 calls concerning “shots fired or people shot.” In an effort to suppress the increasing number of protesters, Chief Medaria Arradondo of the Minnesota Police Department has called the complete Minnesota National Guard to help manage further chaos. However, even with the addition of hundreds of soldiers, the authorities were unable to detain the overwhelming mass of protesters on Friday night. Following, state authorities have worked to amass more soldiers and airmen to report to the city in order to contain the riots. “We are not going to let a group of people hijack this city,” Chief Arradondo promised. “I’m confident that we will move forward.”

Following Minneapolis’s demonstrations and acts for justice, many other cities and states have followed suit in expressing their disdain and fury towards George Floyd’s abhorrent death. Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and countless others have broken out in similar protests against the injustice of the police system. The destruction of landmarks and blockades of major streets have caused havoc all across the nation. “What are you changing by tearing up a city?” Mayor Keisha Lance of Atlanta, Georgia, questioned. “You’ve lost all credibility now. This is not how we change America. This is not how we change the world.” There were over 500 arrests in Los Angeles on Friday night (May 29th) alone, about 200 other arrests in Houston between Friday night (May 29th) and Saturday morning (May 30th), and over 300 arrests in New York by Sunday morning (May 31st). The National Guard has been called in to at least 12 states, and Governor Gavin Newsom of California, has proclaimed a state of emergency since the outbreak of uprisings as states face more and more criminal violence and disruption.

However, there is still much conflict and debate over the justifications behind both the protesters and the police officers’ actions. While some argue that the police escalated the demonstrations to violence, others argue that the protesters are the ones to blame. In addition to this, amidst the masses of protesters, many have taken advantage of the chaos to exploit the opportunity for personal gain. At a certain fine line, we must be able to discern the uninvolved looters and the actual protesters. 

These series of riots have caught the attention of individuals across the world, and have definitely been noted by our higher central authorities. President Trump has offered and even advised the authorities of Minnesota to accept the support of the military in order to repress the growing crowds of protesters. However, the governor dismissed the offer, mobilizing the Minnesota National Guard instead. Trump has since criticized the actions of the Minnesota officials for having allowed the protests to escalate as far as they have. “They have to get tougher, and by being tougher they will be honoring his memory,” Trump stated. “When I saw the policemen running out of a police station for that police station to be abandoned and taken over, I’ve never seen anything so horrible and stupid in my life.

“We have our military ready, willing and able if they ever want to call our military. We could have troops on the ground very quickly.” Many of Trump’s comments on Twitter have evoked much criticism and backlash as he addressed the topical issues of the rising demonstrations and racism. He went as far as calling the Minneapolis protesters “thugs,” commenting, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The tweet quickly gained much attention, seemingly alluding to a similar phrase from the 1960s during similar time of oppression towards black neighborhoods. However, Trump insisted that he was unaware of the gravity behind the statement.

Contrary to Trump’s opinion on the situation, Joe Biden, the former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee, has offered his support and empathy to protesters while advising them against further damage. “Protesting such brutality is right and necessary. It’s an utterly American response,” Biden remarked. “But burning down communities and needless destruction is not. Violence that endangers lives is not. Violence that guts and shutters businesses that serve the community is not.” In a separate tweet, Biden continued, “If we are complacent, if we are silent, we are complicit in perpetuating these cycles of violence. None of us can turn away. We all have an obligation to speak out. We are a nation enraged, but we cannot allow our rage to consume us. We are a nation exhausted, but we will not allow our exhaustion to defeat us.

“I know that a grief that dark and deep may at times feel too heavy to bear. I know. And I also know that the only way to bear it is to turn all that anguish to purpose. So tonight, I ask all of America to join me—not in denying our pain or covering it over—but using it to compel our nation across this turbulent threshold into the next phase of progress, inclusion, and opportunity for our great democracy.”

But how can YOU help? Maybe you can’t go to a physical protest to show your support, but there are other ways to stand against racial inequality and voice your stance. There are several different outlets to sign petitions, donate, as well as additional resources that have been listed below!