Who is George Floyd and why did his death trigger the current “Black Lives Matter” protests?

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America breaks out in flames as “Black Lives Matter” protests turn into riots. What triggered these protests?!

This time it all started with the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Minnesota, who died after being arrested by police on May 25, 2020. This incident sparked the George Floyd protests throughout America, with demonstrators calling for an end to police violence.

Who is George Floyd?

George floyd Black lives matter protest

George Floyd has been living in Minneapolis for years. Before that, he lived in Houston, Texas. He worked as a security guard at a Latin American restaurant called the Conga Latin Bistro in the city. He had worked at the restaurant for 5 years and rented a home from the restaurant’s owner Jovanni Thunstrom. But he was temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19.

The arresting agent and Floyd knew each other

Agent Chauvin, who arrested George Floyd knew each other. According to former club owner Maya Santamaria, they’ve both worked together at the same nightclub, the El Nuevo Rodeo club on Lake Street.

Chauvin was their off-duty police for almost the entirety of the 17 years that they were open. George and Chaivin worked together at the same time, it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.

Although they’ve worked on the same days within the last year, it’s not certain if they knew each other because there were often a couple of dozen security guards, including off-duty officers (5abc Eyewitness News).

Why was George Floyd being arrested?

It started when George Floyd tried to pay with fake money. The cashier called the cops according to standard protocol, to report the crime. The owner of the shop, Mike Abumayyaleh, told NBC news that he knew Floyd as a “friendly and pleasant customer”. But that day the owner was not working.

“Drunk and had no control over himself”

Teenaged Cashier

According to the teen the man was drunk and had no control over himself. He demanded Floyd to return the sigarets he bought with fake money, but Floyd refused and left the shop.

The following description of the arrest is reconstructed by analyzing all available video fragments together with the eyewitness reports.

The arrest

A few minutes after he left two agents arrived and they found Floyd at the parkin lot. He was sitting with two other people in a car. One of the agents drew his weapon and called out to Floyd to raise his hand into the air. Why the agent drew his weapon, is not clear.

After that the agents pulled him out of the car, they pushed him against the vehicle to cuff him. Floyd protested against the cuffs and struggled against it. Once he was cuffed he became calmer. But when the agents wanted to put him in the vehicle, he really started to resist.

He threw himself on the ground and told the agents “that he was claustrophobic“.

Chauvin arrived on the scene later

Agent Chauvin, who was arrested on suspicion of the murder of Floyd, arrived after this. Together with the other agents, he tried to push Floyd into the vehicle again. After that, it seems like Chauving pushed him on the ground. Floyd was thrown on his belly, while still cuffed, and Chauvin kneeled on his neck. This is the moment when bystanders started to film the happenings.

Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck

After the start of the filming

In the video’s you can hear Floyd yelling that “he couldn’t breathe”. The agents seemed to not believe him, especially since Floyd was still able to talk.

According to the public prosecutor who wants to prosecute Chauvin, the agent kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

In Inside Edition an expert told that “putting pressure on someone’s neck will quickly lead to unconsciousness” and it can indeed “has deathly consequences“.

Chauvin kept kneeling on Floyd’s neck even though he kept begging for help and stating that he couldn’t breath. Even the bystanders tried to help and speak up for him, but to no avail. When the EMS arrived Chauvin still kept kneeling another full minute on the already unconscious man.

The autopsy report

According to the autopsy report, suffocation was not the cause of death.

Floyd had underlying health issues including hypertensive heart disease and coronary artery disease.

Both diseases combined with being restrained by the police, plus any potential intoxicants may have contributed to his death. The full ME’s report is still pending.

Another noteworthy thing was that one of the agents was tracking Floyd’s heartrate while Chauvin kept kneeling on his neck.

Floyd was transferred to the hospital where he was declared dead one hour later.

Watch the clip below to witness Floyd’s arrest:

Start of the George Floyd protests

After the George Floyd incident protests began around midday on May 26, the day after Floyd’s death. The protests continued into May 27. On May 28 a state emergency was declared by Major Jacob Frey and 500 Minnesota National Guard troops were deployed to the Twin Cities Area. 

state of emergency was declared in Minneapolis on May 28 by Mayor Jacob Frey, and 500 Minnesota National Guard troops were deployed to the Twin Cities area. By morning, more than 30 businesses in Minneapolis had been damaged by rioters and 170 businesses have been reported to be damaged or looted. It was also reported that a dozen fires have been started.

Between May 28 and May 29 there was no police, fire, or EMS presence in the area where the riots occurred. Later that morning CNN reporter  Omar Jiménez, who is of African-American and Colombian descent, and camera crew were arrested by Minnesota State Patrol officers as Jiménez was reporting live on television.

Since then there have been many protests in hundreds of cities in the United States and internationally, with demonstrators supporting those seeking justice for Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, and speaking out against police brutality.

Featured image source: Tim Pierce from Berlin, MA, USA / CC BY

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