On Monday, an unarmed black man was killed in Minneapolis when an arresting officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes after being called about a suspected forgery. By Friday, the city was in flames and President Donald Trump took aim at both protestors and Twitter alike — denouncing the former as “thugs” and the latter as rife with propaganda.
How did we get here? Tensions have been on the rise for months now — not only are we in the midst of an international pandemic (and an election year), but even during a national lockdown, the killing of unarmed black citizens goes on. In February, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was killed by two white men while out for a jog in Georgia. It took a video surfacing of his death in May for the men to be arrested. Then, in March, EMT Breonna Taylor was shot at least eight times when police forced their way into her apartment to serve a warrant in a narcotics investigation. Taylor’s mother has since filed an unlawful death suit, claiming that the suspect in question had already been arrested — plus there were no drugs in the apartment.
George Floyd, 46, was the most recent black person to be killed by police — a death that has sparked a literal fire in Minneapolis, where he died. Below, we have compiled an ongoing timeline of what is known about his death, as well as the civil unrest that has occurred since.
Monday, May 25
Monday, a Facebook user posted a video in which George Floyd, 46, was killed by police outside the Cup Foods convenience store in Minneapolis, writing: “They killed him right in front of Cup Foods over south on 38th and Chicago! No type of sympathy.”
The video showed a white police office kneeling on a black man’s neck in the midst of the arrest. The man, Floyd, repeatedly tells the cop that he can’t breathe. After several minutes, the man ceases to move, yet the officer still bears down on his neck. Bystanders call for the officer to let the man go. “He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one says, while another informs the officer that Floyd’s nose is bleeding and that he looks like he’s about to pass out.
According to a statement from the Minneapolis Police Department, officers were called to Cup Foods to investigate reports of a forgery. George Floyd, 46 — who was suspected of attempting to spend a counterfeit $20 bill — was in his car when police arrived and ordered that he exit the vehicle. According to police spokesman John Elder, Floyd “physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.” Floyd was taken to the hospital and died of his injuries.
Tuesday, May 26
The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension began investigating the incident and the four officers involved were fired. “This is the right call,” Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said on Twitter. “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” he wrote on Facebook. “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. What happened on Chicago and 38th last night is awful. It was traumatic. It serves as a reminder of how far we have to go.”
Floyd’s cousin, Tera Brown, called for the four fired cops involved to be charged with murder. “He didn’t deserve what happened to him,” she told CNN. “They took a life — they deserve life.”
That evening, protestors gathered in the streets of Minneapolis chanting “I can’t breathe.”
“He didn’t deserve what happened to him,” says Tera Brown, cousin of George Floyd, who said he couldn’t breathe as a police officer used a knee to hold him down by the neck. Brown said the four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s death should be “charged with murder.” pic.twitter.com/ESXMVMdcXH
— CNN (@CNN) May 27, 2020
Wednesday, May 27
The Minneapolis police department revealed the names of the officers fired after the incident: Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng (via the New York Times). Mayor Frey called for prosecutors to file federal charges against the men at a press conference. “I want to see a charge take place,” he said. “I want to see justice for George Floyd.”
Thursday, May 28
Prosecutors continued to investigate whether or not to charge Derek Chauvin, the officer who killed Floyd. The lack of action from authorities, however, accelerated protests near the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct. Participants eventually set fire to the police precinct station, according to the New York Times. Protests also broke out in New York, Denver, Phoenix and Columbus, Ohio. Demonstrators also gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, to protest the death of Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police while in her own home in March.
NBC reported that Chauvin had been the subject of several police-conduct reports — at least 12 since he started in 2001. Still, according to Minneapolis’ Communities United Against Police Brutality database — which has been cited in various reports on Chauvin’s record — he has only received a few verbal reprimands. Most of the complaints in the database are listed as “closed.”
Friday, May 29
Early Friday morning, President Donald Trump denounced protestors, saying: “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. 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. Thank you!” The tweet was flagged by the social media platform with a message reading: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
This is the first time Twitter has flagged one of the President’s tweets as questionable. The move comes days after the platform added a fact-check option to some of Trump’s false tweets about mail-in voting, prompting him to threaten to close down Twitter. He then signed an executive order aimed at bolstering the government’s ability to regulate social media sites
Undeterred, the president spent the morning deriding the platform on Twitter, tweeting in the early afternoon: “The National Guard has arrived on the scene. They are in Minneapolis and fully prepared. George Floyd will not have died in vain. Respect his memory!!!”
Meanwhile, a crew of CNN reporters were arrested while covering the protests in Minneapolis. Correspondent Omar Jimenez, producer Bill Kirkos and camera operator Leonel Mendez were taken into custody by Minnesota State Police while reporting on street closures. The journalists were released on Friday morning soon after their arrest. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz reportedly apologized to CNN President Jeff Zucker. Jimenez went back on the air shortly after his release, noting that law enforcement was “not violent” with him, and that one of the officers told him they were “just following orders.”
This story is developing…