Protests are happening in cities across America after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer. What began as peaceful protests have turned into riots, with people setting fires, damaging property, and looting stores.
Floyd was arrested after a store clerk called the police and accused him of using a fake $20 bill. After he was handcuffed, a police officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes, killing him. Floyd had shown no violence and had even said that he couldn’t breathe, but the officers didn’t seem to care.
Since George Floyd was black and the officer white, many people believe this was a racist murder. Others feel it’s really about police abusing their power, regardless of race. Both issues – racism and police brutality – have long histories in America, and people want to see justice served. Chauvin was himself arrested and charged with third-degree murder, and three other officers on the scene were fired.
Protests, Riots, and Antifa
Protests broke out in Minneapolis soon after the incident, but they unfortunately turned violent and turned into riots. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz brought in the National Guard to gain control of the situation on May 28. Hundreds of people have been arrested for violence, as well as stealing and destroying property.
The riots quickly spread to over one hundred cities across the country, including Washington D.C., where protesters turned up at the White House and clashed with Secret Service officers. President Trump reportedly sheltered in a bunker.
Reports suggest that otherwise peaceful protests are being taken over by groups intent on violence and destruction. Some have named Antifa as the group responsible for keeping the violence going. Made up of anarchists, anti-capitalists, and Marxists, Antifa belongs to the extreme left-wing. Their tactics are often violent.
Attorney General Bill Barr stated in a press conference that, “In many places, it appears the violence is planned, organized, and driven by far-left extremist groups and anarchic groups using Antifa-like tactics.” President Trump announced that he plans to designate Antifa as a “terrorist organization.”
Remembering George Floyd
Floyd’s uncle, Selwyn Jones, said his nephew “always had a smile on his face. He was always smiling and laughing.” Floyd’s brother, Philonese, asked people to stop the violence, saying, “Everybody has a lot of pain right now, that’s why this is happening, I’m tired of seeing black people dying.”
Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, added, “You can’t fight fire with fire. Everything just burns, and I’ve seen it all day – people hate, they’re hating, they’re hating, they’re mad. And he would not want that.”