The United States of American has been engulfed in riots following the death of an
African-American man, George Floyd, 46 years of age, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on the evening of 25 May 2020 while he was being taken into custody by the police. The National Guard is activated in many states amid violence and damage.
He died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis.
Footage of the arrest on 25 May shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on the deceased’s neck while he was pinned to the road surface.
Mr Chauvin, 44, has since been taken into custody and charged with murder.
The incident that led to Mr Floyd’s death lasted about 30 minutes. Eye-witnesses accounts, video footage and official statements of the incident has revealed the following sequence of events.
It began with a report of a fake $20 bill by a store employee at Cup Foods grocery store in Minneapolis where the deceased had just bought a packet of cigarettes. The employee, believing the $20 note to be fake tried to claim the packet of cigarettes back from Mr Floyd. When he refused, the employee made a call to 911 and requested for help. It was around 20:00.
The employee said the man appeared to be “drunk” and “not in control of himself”. A few minutes thereafter, police arrived at the scene.
According to the store owner, Mike Abumayyaleh, Mr Floyd was a regular at Cup Foods. He was a friendly face, a pleasant customer who never caused any trouble. But the owner was not at work on the date of the incident. In reporting the suspicious bill, the employee was just following standing procedure.
When the police arrived, Mr Floyd was sitting with two other people in a car parked around the corner.
After approaching the car, one of the officers, Thomas Lane, pulled out his gun and ordered Mr Floyd to show his hands. It is not clear why Officer Lane considered it necessary to draw his weapon.
According to prosecutors, Officer Lane put his hands on Mr Floyd, and pulled him out of the car. Then Mr Floyd “actively resisted being handcuffed”.
As soon as he was handcuffed, Mr Floyd’s resistance subsided and Officer Lane explained to him that he was being arrested for “passing counterfeit currency”.
It was when officers tried to put Mr Floyd in their squad car that a struggle ensued.
At around 20:14, Mr Floyd “stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic”, meaning he was extremely afraid of confined spaces, according to the report.
At this stage Officer Chauvin arrived at the scene. He and other officers were involved in further attempts to put Mr Floyd in the police car.
During this attempt, at around 20:19, Officer Chauvin pulled Mr Floyd out of the passenger side of the car, causing him to fall to the ground, according to the report.
He lay there, face down, and still in handcuffs.
That’s when witnesses started to film Mr Floyd, who appeared to be in distress. From this time on, the incident was captured on multiple mobile phones and shared on social media.
Mr Floyd was restrained by officers, while Officer Chauvin placed his left knee between his head and neck.
For about nine minutes, Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck, according to the prosecutors’ report. Mr Floyd repeatedly said that he couldn’t breath.
In videos of the incident, this was when Mr Floyd fell silent, as bystanders urged the officers to check his pulse.
One of the officers, JA Kueng, checked Mr Floyd’s right wrist, but couldn’t find a pulse. Yet, the officers did not move.
At about 20:27, Officer Chauvin removed his knee from Mr Floyd’s neck. Motionless, Mr Floyd was rolled on to a gurney and taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance.
He was pronounced dead about an hour later.
The Governor Minnesota said: ‘Thank God a young person had a camera to video it’
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As America burns, this is how it all began. The officers have been dismissed and some taken into custody. However, the protests have taken a violent turn, characterised by arson, looting and malicious damage to property. The White House blamed the protests and the violence on Antifa, a militant organisation with its stated objective being to oppose fascism.
In the coming days, we will be following this story and giving you an independent analyses as it unfolds looking at it from the various points of view of the participants. Protests have spilled into nearly every major city in the United States and abroad with Berlin and London reporting incidents. Amid the corona virus pandemic, America also has to deal with this major unrest. President Trump has promised to take steps to end the riots but the federal government has not stepped in as yet.