The city of Minneapolis was literally on fire last night, as people protesting the brutal police killing of George Floyd took to the streets for the third night in a row.
George Floyd’s horrific death has captured the attention of the world, the protestors in Minneapolis were joined by others around the United States.
Derek Chauvin, who had been on the Minneapolis police force for 19 years, was videotaped holding his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes as George pleaded for his life, saying, “Please, I can’t breathe.” In the video footage, Derek Chauvin appears to be unsympathetic as George begs for his life.
Unsurprisingly, people are angry about the death of George Floyd, and some of that anger has manifested in a dramatic way. The death of George Floyd is part of a disturbing trend of police killings of black men, women, and even children in the United States.
By far, the epicenter of the protests is in Minneapolis, where Governor Tim Walz called in the National Guard. The National Guard asserted that they were in place largely to protect the firefighters of the city as they put out the numerous fires that burned. The protests had carried over from the previous two days, and as the night grew, protesters targeted the Third Precinct police station. A group of men broke through the wire fencing around the station, and the crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace,” as the building burned.
Reportedly, police officers were watching nearby but did nothing to stop the protesters.
The Guardian has noted that people have expressed their outrage and sorrow in different ways while protesting: “Other people made their point standing for hours on hundreds of street corners. But the protests appeared to divide between those who wanted to keep the focus and pressure on the police, and others who made their anger known by turning it against businesses in the area.”
Governor Walz has called for changes in the city and state following George Floyd’s death. “It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect. George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction.”
Last night’s protests came on the heels of three days of protests being launched in various forms across the city. The Guardian also wrote, “Thursday’s demonstrations had turned angry quickly not long after midday, with violence spreading to a Target store several miles away in the Midway neighborhood of St Paul.”
Marie Johnson, who has joined the protesting, explained why she and so many are angry, but she also noted that she didn’t support the looting. “I’m really angry about George Floyd because we went through all of this with Michael Brown [who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014] and it seems nothing changes. But I’m not at peace with this either. I get that people are angry but it feels like a lot of people here are just grabbing the opportunity for free shopping.”
While some are not fond of protest in its many forms, the United States has a long, storied history of physical protest as a response to unjust actions. In fact, this dates all the way back to the founding of the country, and the First Amendment protects the right to protest along with the right to free speech and freedom of the press.
For some, it can be hard to understand why people choose the form of protest that they do. One woman offered a simple explanation: “We’re going to riot until we get an answer.”