On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after white police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on the street.Two other officers further restrained Floyd, who had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill, and a fourth prevented onlookers from intervening as Floyd begged for his life and repeatedly said “I can’t breathe”. During the final three minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, but the officers ignored onlookers’ pleas that Chauvin remove his knee from Floyd’s neck, which he did not do even as arriving medics attempted to treat Floyd.
Police initially claimed that Floyd had resisted arrest, but after merchants’ security camera footage and videos made by witnesses falsified that claim, all four officers were fired.Two autopsies found Floyd’s death to be a homicide. Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, and the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are both investigating the incident.
Floyd’s death triggered demonstrations and protests in more than 75 U.S cities against police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability. Demonstrations in some cities turned violent, including in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles; in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul area a police precinct and two stores were burned and stores were looted. Some demonstrators skirmished with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets. There were also protests in countries around the world.
Floyd’s death has been compared to that of Eric Garner, a black man killed in 2014 during an arrest for illicitly selling cigarettes, and who – like Floyd – repeated “I can’t breathe” while a New York City police officer applied a fatal chokehold, and to the death of David Smith in 2010, also in Minneapolis.
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