Updated: Jun 4
Life is not going as planned. Your boss has been forced to lay you off from your job due to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown. You’re hungry. You go to a local deli, and due to some confusion regarding a lousy $20 bill, you are handcuffed by the cops. You are pinned chest down to the ground, and a strong, merciless white man starts kneeling on your neck, putting his entire body weight there. You are moaning, groaning, and sobbing. Your voice starts getting weaker. “I can’t breathe", you try to tell the cops and the bystanders present at the scene. "My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts", you request water. The police do not care. As you beg "Don't kill me.”, you feel numbness in your body. Your nose starts bleeding. And as you are getting choked to death, you realize all of this was only because of the difference in the colors of your skin and your murderer’s.
This was the incident of George Floyd’s death, the one that started the riots in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The death that showed the entire world how the USA is still battling with race relations, even after 155 years of its end of slavery. The death that reopened old wounds of similar police-involved incidents against African-Americans that has been happening for quite a while now.
The death has provoked widespread protests, initially in the city where Floyd was killed, Minneapolis, but which have now spread across the US. The sometimes violent demonstrations hit cities from New York to Atlanta in a tide of anger over the treatment of minorities by law enforcement.
Later, the US attorney, the County Attorney, and the FBI held a joint press conference that was intended to reassure everyone that justice would be done. However, the ambiguity of the statements released made things even worse. The protestors took to the streets again, getting more violent over time. They threw rocks and set the police station on fire. There has been news of some explosions as well.
Stores in the neighborhood were set on fire. The police had to evacuate their headquarters. It was then that some of the people started breaking windows and stealing from the shops. In Detroit, a 19-year-old man protesting in the city was shot dead on Friday night by a suspect who pulled up to demonstrators in a sport utility vehicle and fired gunshots into the crowd, then fled, the Detroit Free Press and other local media reported. Police could not immediately be reached for comment. Hundreds in the city had joined a "March Against Police Brutality" late in the afternoon outside the Detroit Public Safety Headquarters. Many chanted, "No justice, no peace." Some carried signs that read, "End police brutality" and "I won't stop yelling until everyone can breathe."
Thousands of chanting protesters filled the streets of New York City's Brooklyn borough near the Barclays Center indoor arena. Police armed with batons and pepper spray made scores of arrests in sometimes violent clashes.
In lower Manhattan, demonstrators at a "We can't breathe" rally were pressing for legislation outlawing the police "chokehold" used by a city police officer in the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who was also black.
In Washington, police and Secret Service agents were out in force around the White House before dozens of demonstrators gathered across the street in Lafayette Square chanting, “I can't breathe."
In Atlanta, Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., implored people to go home on Friday night after more than 1,000 protesters marched to the state capitol from the Centennial Olympic Park, blocking traffic and an interstate highway along the way. The demonstration turned chaotic and at times violent. Fires burned in downtown Atlanta near the CNN Center, the network's headquarters.
At least one police car was among several vehicles burnt. Windows were smashed at the CNN building, along with storefronts. Police pushed back the crowd, but they hurled bottles at officers.
Protesters also took to the streets in other cities including Denver and Houston. In Minneapolis, hundreds of protesters defied an 8 p.m. curfew to gather in the streets around a police station burnt the previous night.
Meanwhile, the US President Donald Trump tweeted posted on Thursday night Washington time, warned people to stop their protests by saying that he would send the military to intervene if there was “any difficulty”. Twitter, however, flagged the tweet, saying that it "glorified violence".
The four officers, namely Derek Chauvin, and his three accomplices involved in the death of Floyd have been fired by the Minneapolis police, and eventually charged with manslaughter and third-degree murder, which has been recently changed to a second degree.