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|George Floyd protests|
|Part of the Black Lives Matter movement|
and reactions to the Killing of George Floyd
From top, left to right: Texas National Guard watches a crowd of peaceful protesters in Austin, Texas; demonstrators overtaking and burning the Minneapolis Police's 3rd Precinct; Pennsylvania National Guard supporting police at a protest in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Georgia National Guard and riot police contain a crowd in Atlanta, Georgia; peaceful protesters hold up signs in Washington, D.C.; demonstrators on a torched street with firefighters working in the background in Minneapolis, Minnesota; Georgia National Guard medics treating a peaceful protester injured by tear gas.
|Date||May 26, 2020 – present|
(10 months, 2 weeks and 6 days)
|Methods||Protests, demonstrations, civil disobedience, and civil resistance|
|Deaths, injuries and arrests|
The George Floyd protests are an ongoing series of protests and unrest which began in the United States in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020, following the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man who was killed during an arrest after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes as three other officers looked on. Although much of the unrest is predicated on the whiteness of police, the three officers charged with second-degree aiding and abetting felony murder are of mixed ethnic and racial backgrounds: Thomas Lane is white, Tou Thao is Hmong and J.A. Kueng is black.
The unrest began as local protests in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area of Minnesota before quickly spreading across the entire nation and in over 60 countries internationally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Over 2,000 cities and towns in the United States and around the world saw protests and demonstrations as of June 13, and protests extended into a third week after Floyd's death in many cities. While the majority of protests have been peaceful, demonstrations in some cities descended into riots and widespread looting, with more being marked by street skirmishes and significant police violence, notably against peaceful protesters and reporters. At least 200 cities in the U.S. had imposed curfews by June 3, while at least more than 30 states and Washington, D.C, activated over 62,000 National Guard personnel due to the mass unrest. By June 3, at least 11,000 people had been arrested, including all four police officers involved in the arrest which led to Floyd's death.
The protests have led to numerous legislative proposals on all levels intended to combat police misconduct, systemic racism, and police brutality in the United States while the Trump administration has drawn widespread criticism for its hardline, militarized response and aggressive rhetoric. The unrest is also occurring during the global COVID-19 pandemic, with health experts warning that the protests will likely facilitate an accelerated spread or rebound of the virus. The economic impact of the protests has exacerbated the 2020 coronavirus recession by sharply curtailing consumer confidence, straining local businesses, and overwhelming public infrastructure with large-scale property damage.
- 1 Background
- 2 Protests
- 3 Activation of non-local forces
- 4 Violence and controversies
- 4.1 Deaths
- 4.2 Violence by police
- 4.3 Violence by protestors
- 4.4 Violence against journalists
- 4.5 Criminal activity
- 4.6 Reports of extremist activities
- 4.7 Allegations of foreign involvement
- 5 Use of social media
- 6 Misinformation
- 7 Impact and effects
- 8 Concerns over COVID-19 transmission
- 8.1 United States concerns
- 8.2 International concerns
- 8.3 On-site factors influencing the spread
- 8.4 Consequences
- 9 Reactions
- 10 Gallery
- 11 See also
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
- 15 External links
Background[edit | edit source]
Police brutality[edit | edit source]
In recent years, the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in 2015; and the 2014 death of Eric Garner in New York City (who, like George Floyd, repeatedly said "I can't breathe" in his final moments) have sparked the Black Lives Matter movement. Several nationally publicized incidents occurred in Minnesota, including the 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis, the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, a suburb of neighboring Saint Paul, and the 2017 shooting of Justine Damond, also in Minneapolis. In March 2020, the shooting of Breonna Taylor by police executing a no knock warrant at her Kentucky apartment was also widely publicized. In 2016, Tony Timpa was killed by Dallas police officers in the same way as George Floyd.
Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic[edit | edit source]
Measures taken against the growing COVID-19 pandemic, including closure of non-essential businesses and implementation of stay-at-home orders, had significant economic and social impact on many Americans as millions lost their jobs and were made more economically vulnerable. Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota, said he was of the opinion that people "have been cooped up for two months, and so now they're in a different space and a different place. They're restless. Some of them have been unemployed, some of them don't have rent money, and they're angry, they're frustrated."
Killing of George Floyd[edit | edit source]
On May 25, 2020, at 8:08 p.m. CDT, Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding a "forgery in progress" on Chicago Avenue South in Powderhorn, Minneapolis. MPD Officers Thomas K. Lane and J. Alexander Kueng arrived with their body cameras turned on. A store employee told officers that the man was in a nearby car. Officers approached the car and ordered George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, who according to police "appeared to be under the influence," to exit the vehicle, at which point he "physically resisted." According to the MPD, officers "were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance." Once Floyd was handcuffed, he and Officer Lane walked to the sidewalk. Floyd sat on the ground at Officer Lane's direction. In a short conversation officer asked Floyd for his name and identification, explaining that he was arrested for passing counterfeit currency and asking if he was "on anything." Officers Kueng and Lane attempted to help Floyd to their squad car, but at 8:14 p.m. Floyd stiffened up and fell to the ground. Soon, MPD Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao arrived in a separate squad car. The officers made several more failed attempts to get Floyd into the squad car.
Floyd, who was still handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer Kueng held Floyd's back and Lane held his legs. Chauvin placed his left knee in the area of Floyd's head and neck. A Facebook Live livestream recorded by a bystander showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck. Floyd repeatedly tells Chauvin "Please" and "I can't breathe," while a bystander is heard telling the police officer, "You got him down. Let him breathe." After some time, a bystander points out that Floyd was bleeding from his nose while another bystander tells the police that Floyd is "not even resisting arrest right now," to which the police tell the bystanders that Floyd was "talking, he's fine." A bystander replies saying Floyd "ain't fine." A bystander then protests that the police were preventing Floyd from breathing, urging them to "get him off the ground ... You could have put him in the car by now. He's not resisting arrest or nothing." Floyd then goes silent and motionless. Chauvin does not remove his knee until an ambulance arrives. Emergency medical services put Floyd on a stretcher. Not only had Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for about seven minutes (including four minutes after Floyd stopped moving) but another video showed an additional two officers had also knelt on Floyd while another officer watched.
Medics were unable to detect a pulse, and Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy of Floyd was conducted on May 26, and the next day, the preliminary report by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office was published, stating "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." Floyd's underlying health conditions included coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The initial report said that "[t]he combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death." The medical examiner further said Floyd was "high on fentanyl and had recently used methamphetamine at the time of his death." However, on June 1, a private autopsy commissioned by the family of Floyd ruled the death a homicide and found that Floyd had died due to asphyxiation from sustained pressure, which conflicted with the original autopsy report done earlier that week. Shortly after, the official post-mortem declared Floyd's death a homicide. Video footage of the incident generated global attention and raised questions about the use of force by law enforcement.
Protests[edit | edit source]
United States protests[edit | edit source]
The day following Floyd's death, protests began in Minneapolis during which protesters and police began to clash on the streets. Protests also began to form in other cities across the United States, and demonstrations increased with each day. The unrest escalated on subsequent days and the third precinct police station in Minneapolis was burned down on May 28. By June, protests had been held in all U.S. states and permanently-inhabited territories. Protest actions were also reported in some U.S. immigration detention centers and prisons.
International protests[edit | edit source]
Protests over Floyd's death quickly spread worldwide. Protests in Europe, Australia, Africa, and elsewhere have rallied against what they perceived as racial discrimination and police brutality, with some protests aimed at United States embassies.
Over the weekend of June 7 and 8, surfers around the world held a "Paddle Out", a Hawaiian mourning tradition, for George Floyd and all the lives lost to police violence. Thousands observed the tradition in Honolulu, Hawaii, La Jolla, Hermosa Beach and Santa Monica, California, Galveston, Hackensack, New Jersey, Rockaway Beach, New York, Biarritz, France, Senegal and Australia.
Activation of non-local forces[edit | edit source]
State[edit | edit source]
By June 9, governors in more than 30 states and Washington, D.C. had deployed the National Guard as a measure to quell the protests and riots, with over 24,000 troops being activated. Most state police officers across the United States were present in dozens of cities to back up local efforts to put an end to rioting.
Federal[edit | edit source]
As of June 5, 2,950 federal law enforcement personnel from a dozen agencies, including the Secret Service, Capital Police, Park Police, Customs and Border Protection, FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, Bureau of Prisons' Special Operations Response Team, DEA's Special Response Team, ATF, and Marshals Service's Special Operations Group, have been dispatched to assist local authorities, with most of them being garrisoned in D.C. The DEA's legal authority was specifically expanded by the Department of Justice beyond usual limits to include surveillance of protestors and the ability to arrest for non-drug related offenses. In response, Representatives Jerry Nadler and Karen Bass of the House Judiciary Committee denounced the move and requested a formal briefing from DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea.
United States President Donald Trump threatened to deploy the U.S. military in response to the unrest. On June 3 he said "If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem." This would require invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807, last used to quell the 1992 Los Angeles riots on May 1, 1992 by Executive Order 12804. Arkansas senator Tom Cotton also pushed for the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division being deployed to quell the unrest, calling protestors "Antifa terrorists." Cotton tweeted "No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters." However, many legal experts said this would violate the Department of Defense Law of War Manual, the ICRC, and Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions. Cotton later said he was using "no quarter" in a colloquial sense, but Mark Zaid and Tom Nichols responded that the legal definition of the term is a war crime. Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton said that federal troops should "lay down [their] arms" if deployed in the United States.
Violence and controversies[edit | edit source]
Deaths[edit | edit source]
This section needs to be updated.June 2020)(
May 27[edit | edit source]
- In Minneapolis, Calvin Horton Jr. died after being fatally shot during a protest. A local shop owner was arrested, and police sources claimed that Horton was involved in looting of his store.
May 29[edit | edit source]
- In Detroit, a 21-year-old man was killed when his car was fired upon in Downtown Detroit. Although police believed the incident had no connection to the protests, he was nevertheless fatally shot in the middle of the demonstrations against police brutality.
- In Oakland, California, amid unrest, a Federal Protective Service officer, David Patrick Underwood, was fatally shot outside a federal courthouse in a drive-by attack that also wounded another guard. At the time of the shooting, Underwood was providing security at the courthouse during a protest. The Department of Homeland Security has labeled the shooting an act of domestic terrorism. The FBI is investigating but had not yet identified a motive or a suspect as of May 31. Although initially the police were not sure that the shooting was connected to the protests, on June 2, investigators said they believed the attackers were targeting uniformed officers, but were not clear who carried out the attack.
May 30[edit | edit source]
- In St. Louis, Missouri, 29-year-old protester Barry Perkins died after being run over by a FedEx truck that was fleeing from looters.
- In Omaha, Nebraska, 22-year-old protester James Scurlock was fatally shot outside of a bar. The shooter was the owner of the bar, who had a scuffle with a group of protesters and ended up firing several shots, one of which struck Scurlock in the clavicle, killing him. Two days later, authorities announced that there would be no charges for the bar's owner and that he had opened fire in self-defense. Later, however, after pushback, the matter was referred to a grand jury for review.
- In Kettering, Ohio, 22-year-old Sarah Grossman, a recent graduate of Ohio State University, died in hospital from acute respiratory issues after she was in a group sprayed with tear gas at a demonstration in Columbus, Ohio. An autopsy is pending.
May 31[edit | edit source]
- In Indianapolis, two people were fatally shot in the vicinity of protests or riots downtown. One of them was 18-year-old Dorian Murell, killed around 2:30am on June 1; a 29-year-old man turned himself in to the police, maintaining Murell had pushed him down, and was subsequently charged with murder on June 2. The other was 38-year-old Chris Beaty, a local business owner, who was shot shortly before midnight May 31.
- In Kansas City, Missouri, 50-year-old Marvin Francois was shot and killed by robbers while picking up one of his sons from a protest.
- In Chicago, 32-year-old John Tiggs was fatally struck in the abdomen by shots fired inside a Metro by T-Mobile store while walking into the building to pay his bill during lootings in the city's South Side.
- In Riverside, Illinois, 22-year old Myqwon Blanchard from Chicago was fatally shot by a gunman during the looting of the North Riverside Park Mall.
June 1[edit | edit source]
- In Louisville, local restaurateur David McAtee was killed as a Louisville Metro Police and Kentucky National Guard curfew patrol fired at him. Authorities allege that the patrol returned gunfire after McAtee fired at them. However, McAtee's alleged gunshot occurred after the patrol appeared to fire a pepper ball into McAtee's restaurant, nearly striking his niece in the head. According to the victim's sister, the gathering was not a protest but rather a regularly scheduled social gathering at which McAtee served food from his barbecue restaurant. An investigation of the killing is ongoing. LMPD Chief Steve Conrad was fired later that day, as officers and troops involved in the shooting did not wear or failed to activate body cameras. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer admitted that the city had shown an "inability to apply [curfew] evenly."
- In Davenport, Iowa, two people were fatally shot on a night with significant rioting. One of the victims was 22-year-old Italia Marie Kelly in an apparent random shooting as she was leaving a demonstration.
- In Cicero, Illinois, two men were fatally shot in separate incidents following an "afternoon of unrest"; this was confirmed by Cicero Police. Town spokesman Ray Hanania said the shots were fired by "outside agitators." The two men were both described as bystanders and were identified as 28-year-old Jose Gutierrez and 27-year-old Victor Cazares Jr.
- In Las Vegas, police shot and killed Jorge Gomez. Gomez was walking among protesters as a demonstration was coming to an end and reportedly reached for his firearm when he was shot. In a separate incident in Las Vegas, police officer Shay Mikalonis was hospitalized in critical condition with a head wound after being shot by Edgar Samaniego while Mikalonis and other offers were arresting protesters near Circus Circus Hotel and Casino.
June 2[edit | edit source]
- In Philadelphia, a man was fatally shot by the owner of the gun shop Firing Line Inc., while trying to break into the store in the south section of the city. Mayor Jim Kenney said he was "deeply troubled" by the killing and that he did not condone vigilantism.
- In Philadelphia, during the fourth day of unrest, a 24-year-old man was severely injured after attempting to use an explosive device to destroy an ATM machine. He was rushed to a local hospital before being pronounced dead.
- In St. Louis, 77-year-old retired police captain David Dorn was shot and killed by looters at a pawn shop. The shooting was streamed on Facebook live.
- In Vallejo, California, Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old man, was shot and killed by police while on his knees. Monterrosa lifted his hands, which revealed a 15-inch hammer tucked in his pocket that was mistaken for a handgun. A police officer in a vehicle then fired on him five times through the windshield. Monterrosa later died at a local hospital. The police were responding to a call over alleged looting at a Walgreens, according to police chief Shawny Williams. The day after his death police revealed that "there had been an 'officer-involved shooting'" at a press conference, yet declined to offer further details, including the name of the officer involved. The event reportedly sparked intense outrage in the Bay Area, particularly in Vallejo, which was identified as having a long history of police violence, excessive force complaints, and high-profile killings like the shooting of Willie McCoy.
June 3[edit | edit source]
- In Bakersfield, California, Robert Forbes, a 50-year-old man was killed after being struck by a vehicle while marching between California Avenue and Oak Street. The incident was caught on video and distributed widely on social media. Forbes was transported to Kern Medical Center, where he remained in critical condition for three days before dying. Police deny that Forbes was hit intentionally, while others dispute this claim. The police did not restrain the driver with handcuffs and allowed him to smoke a cigarette, which caused indignation on social media. A candlelight vigil was held for Forbes on June 6.
June 6[edit | edit source]
Violence by police[edit | edit source]
There have been numerous reports and videos of aggressive police actions using physical force as well as "batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked." These incidents have provoked "growing concern that aggressive law enforcement tactics intended to impose order were instead inflaming tensions." The police have responded that such tactics are necessary to prevent vandalism and arson, and that police officers themselves have been assaulted with thrown rocks and water bottles. In response to the violence, Amnesty International issued a press release calling for the police to end excessive militarized responses to the protests. Police have been found "overwhelmingly responsible for attacking journalists."
Several African American politicians, including State Senator Zellnor Myrie, U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, Columbus City Council President Shannon Hardin and Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce were reportedly pepper sprayed by police. Chicago Police Board President Ghian Foreman was reportedly beaten with batons during a police clash with protesters. A medical worker in Brooklyn, New York claimed to have been assaulted by police for no reason. In Asheville, North Carolina, a medic station was destroyed by police for unknown reasons. A Washington, D.C. man was praised worldwide for sheltering, in his home, more than 70 protesters fleeing arrest for protesting peacefully in front of the White House on June 1, 2020.
May 30[edit | edit source]
|Two NYPD vehicles driving into a crowd of protesters, @pgarapon on Twitter|
Two New York City Police Department (NYPD) vehicles were recorded ramming into protesters surrounding and throwing objects at the vehicles; New York City mayor Bill de Blasio defended the officers' actions and an investigation into the event was initiated.
On May 30, multiple incidents of police violence occurred during protests.
In Atlanta, two police officers broke the windows of a vehicle, pulled a woman out of the car and tased a man. After a video showing the incident came to light, the two police officers were fired for use of excessive force. Arrest warrants were issued for four other officers involved. One of the officers said in a police report that the actions were taken under the belief that either of the pair were armed, a statement that an attorney for one of the victims called an attempt at character assassination. One of the victims described the event as "the worst experience of my life"; the other wore a cast on his arm at a press conference. On June 3, six Atlanta police officers, including the two officers in the window-breaking and dragging incident, were violence, for using excessive force during an arrest.
A woman participating in a protest in La Mesa, California was shot by the police with bean-bag round between her eyes, suffering serious injury. At a protest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a viral video showed Grand Rapids Police pepper spraying a protester and then immediately firing a tear gas canister into their head. The Grand Rapids Police Department announced on June 2 that they would conduct an internal investigation on the incident.
In Seattle, an officer placed his knee on the back of the neck of a looting suspect; after onlookers shouted for him to remove his knee from the man's neck his partner pulled it off. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability received about 12,000 individual complaints regarding the police department's conduct during that weekend, including complaints about "[p]epper spraying a young girl," "[p]unching a person on the ground who was being arrested," "[p]lacing a knee on the neck area of two people who had been arrested," "[f]ailing to record law enforcement activity on body-worn video," and "[breaking] windows of a Target store."
May 31[edit | edit source]
On May 31, 20-year-old African American Texas State University student Justin Howell was shot in the head with a less lethal bean bag round by an APD officer while protesting outside police headquarters in Austin, Texas. Chief of Police Brian Manley said they were aiming at another protester and shot Howell by mistake. Fellow protesters were instructed by police to carry the injured Howell toward them for medical aid, however, those protesters were then also fired upon by police. Howell was left in critical condition, with a fractured skull and brain damage.
In Minneapolis, police cruisers were filmed spraying a chemical on crowds of protesters as they drove by.
June 1[edit | edit source]
Trump visited the historic St. John's Episcopal Church, whose basement had been damaged by fire during the protests the previous night, and posed for pictures in front of it holding up a Bible. To clear the route so that he could walk there, police and national guardsmen had used tear gas, rubber bullets, and flash grenades to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, resulting in significant news coverage and denunciation by the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. In a press release the next day, United States Park Police said they had observed protesters throwing bricks and other dangerous projectiles, but journalists present said the protests were peaceful before police moved in.
June 4[edit | edit source]
On, June 4, police shot tear gas at an unarmed couple waiting at a traffic stop in Denver. When the man came out of the vehicle to confront the officers because his pregnant wife was in the vehicle, the officers ordered him to move along. He refused and the officers opened fire on him and the vehicle with pepper balls.
|Buffalo police shoving incident, Mike Desmond for WBFO|
In Buffalo, a 75-year-old man with a cane was left bleeding from the head after approaching police officers and being shoved by police, causing him to fall to the ground. A video of the encounter shows an officer leaning down to examine him, but another officer then pulls the first officer away. Several other officers are seen walking by the man, motionless on the ground, without checking on him. Initially, a police press statement claimed that the man "tripped and fell" which led to further criticism. As of Thursday, the victim, identified as Martin Gugino, is in a serious condition. Two of the officers were suspended, as they yelled "move!” and “push him back!" against the victim, before they hit him.
On June 5, all 57 officers of the Buffalo Police Department resigned from the department's Emergency Response Team, either in solidarity with the two officers who were suspended for this event, or because the union was no longer willing to provide legal support for the officers. The two officers involved were charged with second-degree assault.
Violence by protestors[edit | edit source]
On the night of May 30, a video posted online showed a man being beaten up by a group of protesters in Dallas. According to Fox Business, the man appeared to defend a store and was reportedly armed with a machete and has skirmished with rioters, who were throwing rocks at him. The man was injured, but was able to sit up and was treated at the scene before being taken away in an ambulance, where he was considered to be in a stable condition. Trump called the act of violence "terrible" and demanded arrests and "long term jail sentences" for protesters. According to protesters, they acted in self-defense, and the video was edited to give "false impression" about protests. According to BlackSportsOnline.com, Charles C.A. Shoultz later claimed to be the man who was attacked by the crowd of protesters, blaming himself for instigating the fight, explaining that he was merely "trying to protect the bar he likes to drink at." Dallas Police said that the incident is part of an ongoing investigation.
Violence against journalists[edit | edit source]
U.S. Press Freedom Tracker recorded at least 49 arrests, 192 assaults (160 by police), and 42 incidents in which equipment was damaged during the protests. In comparison, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented between 100 and 150 such incidents per year for the past three years. Many journalists described being intentionally targeted by police even after they identified themselves as press. One journalism professor suggested that the unusual aggressiveness toward journalists might relate to Trump's repeated public attacks on the press as "enemies of the people"; in a May 31 tweet, Trump blamed the "lamestream media" for the protests and said that journalists are "truly bad people with a sick agenda."
From police[edit | edit source]
Journalists at several protests were injured and arrested by police while trying to cover the story, being shot by rubber bullets, or sprayed by tear gas. As of May 31, Bellingcat had identified and documented at least 50 separate incidents where journalists were attacked by law enforcement officials during the protests. According to Bellingcat, "law enforcement across multiple cities, but especially in Minneapolis, are knowingly and deliberately targeting journalists with less lethal munitions, arrests and other forms of violence."
May 28[edit | edit source]
On the evening of May 28, officers fired pepper bullets at several employees of The Denver Post who were reporting on protests in Denver, Colorado. A photographer was struck twice by pepper bullets, sustaining injuries on his arm. The photographer believed it was not accidental, saying, "If it was one shot, I can say it was an accident. I'm very sure it was the same guy twice. I'm very sure he pointed at me." Another journalist said an officer shot at least one pepper bullet at her feet.
May 29[edit | edit source]
Omar Jiménez, a black Latino CNN reporter, and his news crew were arrested while giving a live television report on May 29 in Minneapolis by the Minnesota State Patrol, and then released about an hour later. After the incident took place, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said that he deeply apologizes for what happened and would work to have the crew released, calling the event "unacceptable" and adding that there was "absolutely no reason something like this should happen."
CNN called the arrests a "clear violation of their First Amendment rights" in a tweet posted the same day. After the incident the Minnesota State Patrol tweeted that "In the course of clearing the streets and restoring order at Lake Street and Snelling Avenue, four people were arrested by State Patrol troopers, including three members of a CNN crew. The three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media," however the CNN crew had already informed the troopers that they were members of the media before and during the arrest and carried the relevant paperwork and identification with them. The Minneapolis Police Department falsely stated both while performing the arrest and via Twitter that his crew had not adequately responded when asked what they were doing.
Linda Tirado, a freelance photo journalist, was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet or a pellet by the police in Minneapolis, and following surgery was left permanently blind in that eye. Also on May 29 in Louisville, Kentucky, an officer fired pepper bullets at a reporter from NBC affiliate WAVE who was reporting live on air for her station. The station manager issued a statement strongly condemning the incident, saying there was "no justification for police to wantonly open fire." A 29-year-old mother of two was peacefully protesting in Sacramento when police shot her in the right eye with a rubber projectile; she was permanently blinded in one eye.
May 30[edit | edit source]
On May 30, members of a Reuters crew were fired on with rubber bullets in Minneapolis shortly after a curfew they were reporting on began. One reporter was hit in the arm and neck while another was hit in the face, which deflected off his gas mask. Also in Minneapolis, France 2's U.S. correspondent Agnès Varamian said her photojournalist, Fabien Fougère, was hurt by non-lethal bullets as she shouted "press" to the police. Expressen's U.S. correspondent Nina Svanberg was also hit in the leg with rubber bullets. Meanwhile Deutsche Welle journalist Stefan Simons and his team were shot at by police in Minneapolis. In another incident that day, police also threatened to arrest Simons.
May 31[edit | edit source]
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez, a reporter for Los Angeles NPR/PRI affiliate KPCC was hit in the throat with a rubber bullet, on May 31. Ali Velshi and his MSNBC crew were hit with rubber bullets live on air in Minneapolis. CBC News correspondent Susan Ormiston was also hit by rubber bullets during live coverage there. Michael George from the same network also reported his sound engineer being hit by a rubber bullet in the same city. Sarah Belle, an independent journalist, was hit by a rubber bullet in Oakland.
Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported reporters and camera crews being at the receiving end of tear gas by Minnesota State Patrol, while the same happened to an KABC-TV news crew in Santa Monica. Several Detroit Free Press journalists were pepper sprayed by the city's police, as was KSTP reporter Ryan Raiche along other journalists. Michael Adams from Vice News also reported that happening to him and other journalists present. HuffPost journalist Christopher Mathias was arrested in Brooklyn, as were independent journalist Simon Moya-Smith in Minneapolis, and CNN's Keith Boykin in New York.
A BBC cameraman, Peter Murtaugh, was purposely attacked by police on May 31 outside the White House. Murtaugh filmed a line of police officers charging without warning, whereby a shield-wielding officer tackled Murtaugh to the ground. A fellow BBC journalist stated that the attack had occurred before a curfew was imposed.
In Minneapolis, for the second day in a row, police shot at Deutsche Welle journalist Stefan Simons and his crew.
June 1[edit | edit source]
During a live television broadcast for the Seven Network covering protests near the White House on June 1, Australian journalist Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were assaulted by a charging United States Park Police line as the area was cleared for Trump to visit St. John's Church. Brace was clubbed with a police baton while Myers was hit in the chest by a riot shield and then punched. Brace said she and Myers were also shot by rubber bullets. Brace said at the time, "You heard us yelling there that we were media but they don't care, they are being indiscriminate at the moment." In response, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would launch an investigation into the incident. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the actions of the police and said they had "a right to defend themselves." Park Police acting Chief Gregory Monahan announced that two officers involved had been assigned to administrative duties while an investigation took place.
June 2[edit | edit source]
On June 2, The Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced that they would be investigating the alleged assault of a Wall Street Journal reporter, that took place on May 31, by members of the New York Police Department.
From protesters[edit | edit source]
In the District of Columbia on May 30, a Fox News crew was attacked outside the White House by a group of protesters while reporting on the scene. The crew was chased for several hundred meters until the police intervened.
Criminal activity[edit | edit source]
In Oakland, California, two Federal Protective Service officers were shot while responding to protests at the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building. Officer David Patrick Underwood died from the gunfire.
In Atlanta, around 10:30 p.m., APD officer Maximilian Brewer was struck by an ATV. He was taken to the intensive care unit at Grady Hospital. The driver was identified as 42-year-old Avery Goggans. Three Denver, CO police officers were hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle during late night protests on May 30. Driver Anthony Knapp was taken into custody in relation to the incident.
In Buffalo, New York, a car rammed a police line near where protesters had gathered. Two officers were seriously injured and subsequently hospitalized, with three people being arrested. 30-year-old Deyanna Davis was arrested. In St. Louis, a Missouri State Trooper responding to a riot was struck by a bullet that lodged in his helmet's face-shield. The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) shared images of a bullet hole in the shield Tuesday, saying the trooper “narrowly averted serious injury.”
Reports of extremist activities[edit | edit source]
There have been accusations of various extremist groups using the cover of the protests to foment general unrest in the United States. According to CNN, "although interference in this way may be happening, federal and local officials have yet to provide evidence to the public." For instance, there are claims that groups are placing bricks and other materials nearby areas of unrest to escalate protester action; it has also been suggested that these were left by the police.
Alleged far-left and anarchist involvement[edit | edit source]
President Trump, FBI Director Christopher Wray, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Attorney General William Barr, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Seattle Police Guild President Mike Solan, and Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray blamed "anarchists" and "far-left extremist" groups, including "Antifa", for inciting and organizing violent riots. According to a Justice Department spokesperson, Barr came to this conclusion after being provided with information from state and local law enforcement agencies. On May 31, Trump announced that he planned to designate "Antifa" as a terrorist organization. Some government and non-government officials argued that antifa could not be designated a terrorist group due to the idea that it is "not an organization", and that designating domestic terrorist groups is prohibited by the First Amendment and federal law restricting the designation of terrorist organizations to foreign entities due to concerns pertaining to the First Amendment's speech and assembly rights.
On June 4, FBI Director Christopher A. Wray stated that "anarchists like Antifa" are "exploiting this situation to pursue violent, extremist agendas." During a press conference, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said he's "willing to bet his check" that "there's a lot of people who are anarchists" who cause "damage and injury." He added, "It's just a damn shame that they took advantage of the situation, for ... something [that] happened in another state where somebody died who shouldn't have died, and they hijacked that message for their own." In Pittsburgh, a man was arrested for allegedly starting riots over the weekend that ended in violence. The police chief said that "'anarchists' likely hijacked peaceful protests downtown." Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism of the NYPD John Miller said there is a high level of confidence within the department that unnamed "anarchist groups" had planned to commit vandalism and violence in advance.
Alleged far-right and white supremacist involvement[edit | edit source]
On May 29, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz noted then-unconfirmed reports of white supremacists as well as drug cartels taking advantage of the protests. Reports that all or most of the individuals arrested were not from Minnesota turned out to be false, though Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington noted that some white supremacist groups had posted messages online that encouraged people to go loot in Minneapolis and cause mayhem.
On May 30, Minnesota officials including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stated they believed that white nationalists were using the protests as cover for inciting violence, and that Minnesota officials were monitoring the ongoing far-right online effort to incite violence. On the other hand, Howard Graves, an analyst at the SPLC stated on May 31 that he did not see clear evidence of "white supremacists or militiamen" heading out to "burn and loot." The University of St. Thomas' Lisa Waldner, an analyst of the American white supremacist and anarchist movements, has noted that the goal of many of the individuals involved in the destruction of Minneapolis was to create chaos so as to pursue their own agendas. White nationalist Facebook groups reportedly began urging members to "get their loot on." In at least 20 cities across the country as of May 31, members of hate groups and far-right organizations filmed themselves at the demonstrations.
Vice and New York University's Reiss Center reported that far-right accelerationists, who aim to exacerbate tensions and speed up the supposed coming of a "civil war," have urged followers online to use the protests as an occasion to carry out violence; an eco-fascist Telegram channel with almost 2500 subscribers posted on the 28th that "a riot would be the perfect place to commit a murder." Analysis by Vice and the New York Times also noted the proliferation of chatter on 4chan hailing the violence as the beginning of a "race war." Such tactics match a long running history of accelerationists exploiting moments of political and/or civil unrest to, in the words of historian Stuart Wexler, "produce racial polarization and eventual retaliation" which would then swell the ranks of whites supporting white supremacist violence, ultimately leading to a race war that they hope will "purify" America through ethnic cleansing. Analogous tactics were used by their ideological forebears in the 1960s, and accelerationist ideas are proliferated on web forums and have inspired various white supremacist acts of violence, being featured also in the manifesto of the perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre.
The presence of Boogaloo Bois, an armed anti-government far-right extremist movement that seeks a Second American Civil War, noticeable for their Hawaiian shirts, have also been reported at the protests. Administrators of the Facebook page Big Igloo Bois, a splinter of the Boogaloo movement, called for members to attend the protests with one administrator stating, "come in peace, prepare for there to be violence." While some of the Boogaloo Bois have espoused white supremacist views, other groups, such as the Big Igloo Bois, have aimed to make common cause with the Black Lives Matter movement due to their shared mistrust of the police.
According to a Twitter spokesperson, an account pretending to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, which also calls itself the American Identity Movement; Identity Evropa denied the claims.
On June 3, three men who identified with the Boogaloo movement were arrested in Las Vegas and charged by the Joint Terrorism Task Force for reportedly plotting to commit violent acts to incite a riot and terrorism charges. The three men also had military experience, and were plotting to attack economic targets prior to the protests in May.
According to an internal FBI situation report obtained by The Nation, individuals from a far-right social media group had “called for far-right provocateurs to attack federal agents, use automatic weapons against protesters”.
On the evening of June 7, in Lakeside, Virginia, witnesses reported that a truck-driver deliberately drove into protesters. No one was seriously injured; a suspect was arrested. The county attorney described the suspect as "an admitted leader of the Ku Klux Klan and a propagandist for Confederate ideology" and said he may be charged with a hate crime.
Allegations of foreign involvement[edit | edit source]
There have been allegations of foreign influence stoking the unrest online, with the role of outside powers being additive rather than decisive as of May 31. The founder and CEO of Graphika, which helped the U.S. Senate form its report on Russian social media influence during the 2016 elections, noted "very active engagement" from account clusters from Russia, Iran, and China, and as of May 31 noted that his team was launching an investigation on the matter of possible foreign influence.
However, on June 3, 2020, Graphika released a report concluding that "State-controlled media outlets and official public diplomacy accounts in China, Iran, and Russia are focusing on the anti-racism protests in the United States, but they are primarily doing so in a way that furthers their existing narratives, rather than stoking American divisions," adding that "there is no evidence as yet to suggest a large-scale, covert interference campaign." Several analysts have said that there was a lack of evidence for foreign meddling – whether to spread disinformation or sow divisiveness – but suggest that the messaging and coverage from these countries has more so to do with global politics.
On May 30, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the current acting Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, asserted "very heavy" social media activity linked to "at least three foreign adversaries," noting that while they "didn't create these divisions," they are "actively stoking and promoting violence." On May 31, after being asked about Rubio's comments, the National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Brien said that there may be Russian activists who are exploiting the situation, but also, in reference to Chinese officials posting on social media, that the difference is that "... it's open. It's coming straight from the government." For instance, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeted "I can't breathe" in response to U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus's criticism over the situation in Hong Kong.
The former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, acknowledging that she had no evidence, stated that the violence that was emerging was "right out of the Russian playbook." The claim drew angry responses from Russian officials, including Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova who said that Rice is trying to blame Russia again for the United States' own domestic problems instead of facing her own people. Pro-western commentators have also critizized Rice for blaming domestic problems on foreign machinations. On June 9, the Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov said that "We consider it to be a domestic affair of the United States and we don’t want to interfere," adding that "When we first saw the outbreaks of those riots in the U.S. the first thing we heard is one of the voices saying ‘well, probably, Russia is staying behind those riots’. It's very hard for us to understand these comments and the reason for them."
Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Facebook, stated that they found no evidence of foreign interference on their site, even though its security teams were actively searching for signs of it.
In a virtual press conference on June 4, Mayor of Miami-Dade Carlos A. Giménez and the head of the County Police Freddy Ramírez announced that the FBI has taken over work on the question of foreign financing of the protests, as it is a federal, not state, matter. The FBI announced on June 3 that it had arrested in Miami and elsewhere groups of Venezuelans, Haitians (from "Little Haiti"), Cubans, and Hondurans who were being paid to cause violence at demonstrations. Those arrested admitted they had been hired by unidentified "activists," who even provided funds for transportation to the demonstrations. Two carried large quantities of cash; the FBI is trying to determine the origin of the money, and "Cuban and Venezuelan intelligence agencies" is a possibility they are investigating. The presence of the [Bolivian] "Che Guevara Brigade" was noted. Those arrested allegedly included a sandinista from Nicaragua, Venezuelan supporters of President Hugo Chávez (who died in 2013), and a supporter of revolution in Bolivia.
Mick Mulroy, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and a retired CIA senior official stated in the Washington Post that, "Foreign intelligence services, especially the Russians, often use domestic unrest in the United States to their advantage by exaggerating that unrest through social media and influence operations. The operations often take advantage of legitimate protests, hijacking them by advocating destructive acts such as the burning and destruction of property that reduce the American people's confidence in their own government. If there is evidence that any other countries are doing this, he said, there needs to be direct and real consequences for them."
[edit | edit source]
Many individuals of the general population and celebrities used social media to document the protests, spread information, promote donation sites, and post memorials to George Floyd. Following Floyd's death, a 15-year-old started a Change.org petition titled "Justice for George Floyd," demanding that all four police officers involved be charged. The petition was the both the largest and fastest-growing in the site's history, reaching over 13 million signatures. During this time, multiple videos of the protests, looting, and riots were shared by journalists and protestors with many videos going viral. One such was footage of a destroyed and smoky Target store interior that the poster claimed was in Minneapolis and damaged during the protests.
A remix of Childish Gambino's song "This is America" and Post Malone's "Congratulations" was used heavily by protesters sharing footage of protests and police action on TikTok. Others used personal Twitter pages to post video documentation of the protests to highlight police and protestors actions, and points of the protests they felt would not be reported. One example was a viral photo that appears to show white women protestors standing with their arms locked between Louisville Metro Police Officers and protestors, with the caption describing the image and "This is love. This is what you do with your privilege."
Viral images of officers "taking a knee" with protestors and engaging in joint displays against police brutality, highlighted by hashtags such as #WalkWithUs, have circulated widely on social media. These acts have been identified by some cultural critics as copaganda, or "feel-good images" to boost public relations. Official social media accounts of police departments boosted positive images of collaboration. In some cases, these displays of solidarity, such as police kneeling, have been recognized as occurring moments before police teargassed crowds or inflicted violence on them. An article in The Fader characterized these acts as public relations tactics which were being undermined by police violence, "It feels like we go past the point of no return several times each day."
Cardi B used her social media to comment on the police brutality and looting during the protests stating; "Police brutality been going on even way before I was born, but it has been more visual ever since social media" and "How many peaceful protests have we seen? How many trending hashtags have we seen? People are tired. Now this [looting] is what people have to resort to."[relevant? ]
Director Spike Lee posted a short film on his social media to support the protests and highlighted the deaths Floyd, Eric Garner and fictional character Radio Raheem from his film Do the Right Thing. The short uses footage of the deaths of all three men and opens with the words "Will history stop repeating itself?"
K-pop fan accounts hijacked rightwing and pro-Trump hashtags on social media, flooding trending hashtags with images and videos of their favorite artists. Users attempting to look up the hashtags #WhiteLivesMatter, #WhiteoutWednesday and #BlueLivesMatter were met with anti-racist messages and video clips of dancing idols. After the Dallas Police Department asked Twitter users to submit videos of protesters' illegal activity to its iWatch Dallas app, submissions of K-pop videos lead to the temporary removal of the app due to "technical difficulties."
On May 28 activist/hacktivist collective/movement Anonymous released a video to Facebook and the Minneapolis Police Department entitled "Anonymous Message To The Minneapolis Police Department", in which they state that they are going to seek revenge on the Minneapolis Police Department, and "expose their crimes to the world". According to Bloomberg, the video was initially posted on an unconfirmed Anonymous Facebook page. Before the video, the page posted content linked to UFOs and "China's plan to take over the world".
Misinformation[edit | edit source]
Misinformation and disinformation spread across social media in the immediate aftermath of the killing. Particularly prominent were claims on May 27 that a photograph shows Chauvin wearing a "Make Whites Great Again" hat and that Chauvin appeared onstage with President Donald Trump at a rally; both claims were false.
Some social media users claimed a man videoed breaking the windows of an AutoZone in Minneapolis on May 27 was an undercover Saint Paul Police officer; the Saint Paul Police Department denied these claims through a statement on Twitter. Others spread images of damage from other protests or incidents, falsely attributing the damage to the George Floyd protests.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz speculated that there was "an organized attempt to destabilize civil society," initially stating that as many as 80% of the individuals had possibly come from outside the state, and the mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter, said everyone arrested in St. Paul on May 29 was from out of state. However, jail records showed that the majority of those arrested were in-state. At a press conference later the same day, Carter explained that he had "shared… arrest data received in [his] morning police briefing which [he] later learned to be inaccurate."
Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts associated with spreading a false claim about a communications blackout during protests in Washington, D.C., or a claim that authorities had blocked protesters from communicating on their smartphones. Also, some accounts shared a photo of a major fire burning near the Washington Monument, which was actually an image from a television show.
On the night of May 31, exterior lights on the north side the White House went dark as protesters were demonstrating outside. The Guardian mistakenly reported that "in normal times, they are only ever turned off when a president dies." A 2015 stock photograph of the White House, edited to show the lights turned off, was shared tens of thousands of times online, including by Hillary Clinton. While the photograph did not depict the building at the time of the protests, Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley confirmed that the lights "go out at about 11 p.m. almost every night."
Despite widespread eyewitness accounts and news reports of the use of tear gas to clear Lafayette Square for Trump to visit St. John's Church on June 1, Trump claimed that the allegations of tear gas usage were fake and his presidential campaign team demanded news outlets correct their claim.[lower-alpha 2]
On June 6, the New York Post reported that a NYPD source said $2.4 million of Rolex watches had been looted during protests from a Soho Rolex store. However, the store in question was actually a Watches of Switzerland outlet that denied anything was stolen. Rolex confirmed that "no watches of any kind were stolen, as there weren't any on display in the store."
False stories about "Antifa buses" caused panic in rural counties throughout the country, despite there being no evidence they exist. The Associated Press has catalogued at least five separate rural counties where locals have warned of imminent attacks, although none of the rumors have been substantiated. As a result of the rumours, several people have been harassed, including a multi-racial family in Forks, Washington.
A June 12 article by The Seattle Times found that Fox News published a photograph of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that had been digitally altered to include a man armed with an assault rifle. The Fox News website also used a photograph of a burning scene from the Minnesota protests to illustrate their articles on Seattle's protests.
Impact and effects[edit | edit source]
Economic impact[edit | edit source]
The economic impact of the protests has exacerbated the 2020 coronavirus recession by sharply curtailing consumer confidence, straining local businesses, and overwhelming public infrastructure with large-scale property damage. A number of small businesses, already suffering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, were harmed by vandalism, property destruction, and looting. Curfews instated by local governments – in response to both the pandemic and protests – have also "restricted access to the downtown [areas]" to essential workers, lowering economic output. President Donald Trump, after announcing a drop in overall unemployment from 14.7% to 13.3% on June 5, stated that strong economic growth was "the greatest thing [for race relations]" and "George Floyd would have been proud [of the unemployment rate]". That same day reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the unemployment rate among African Americans (covering the first two weeks of protests) was up 0.1%, rising to 16.8%.
The U.S. stock market has remained unaffected or otherwise increased since the start of the protests on May 26. The protest's first fortnight coincided with a 38% rise in the stock market. A resurgence of coronavirus (facilitated by mass protests) could exacerbate the 2020 stock market crash according to economists at RBC. The protests have disrupted national supply chains over uncertainty regarding public safety, a resurgence of COVID-19, and consumer confidence. A number of Fortune 500 retail companies, with large distribution networks, have scaled back deliveries and shuttered stores in high-impact areas. Mass demonstrations – of both peaceful and violent varieties – have been linked to diminished consumer confidence and demand stemming from the public health risks of group gatherings amid COVID-19.
Large-scale property damage stemming from the protests has led to increased insurance claims, bankruptcies, and curbed economic activity among small businesses and state governments. Insurance claims arising from property damage suffered in rioting is still being assessed, but is thought to be significant, perhaps record-breaking. The City of Minneapolis' Community Planning & Economic Development Department gave an early estimate of at least 220 buildings damaged and $55 million in property damage in the city from fires and vandalism, centered on the Lake Street area; city and state officials have requested state and federal aid to rebuild and repair. Later estimates projected damages to be upwards of $500 million across more than 500 buildings, making the unrest in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area the second most destructive in United States history after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Among the losses was Minnehaha Commons, an under-construction, $30 million redevelopment project for 189 units of affordable housing, which was destroyed by fire after being torched on May 27. A community organization in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood said that between $10 million and $15 million in property damage (excluding losses from looting) was incurred over the weekend of May 29–31, mostly along storefronts along Peachtree Street and Phipps Plaza. The damage to downtown Chicago's central business district (near the Magnificent Mile) was reported to have sustained "millions of dollars in damage" according to Fortune.
Public financing and funding, particularly on the state level, has also been impacted by the protests. The coronavirus recession has eroded large parts of state budgets which have, subsequently, struggled to finance the police overtime pay, security costs, and infrastructure repairs related to the demonstrations. State governments have, since June, announced budget cuts to police departments as well as increased funding to other public safety measures. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on June 5 he will seek up to $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department budget.
Monuments and symbols[edit | edit source]
Scrutiny of, discussion of removal, and removal of civic symbols or names relating to the Confederate States of America (frequently associated with segregation and the Jim Crow era in the United States) has regained steam as protests have continued. On June 4, 2020, Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond would be removed.
On June 5, making specific reference to events in Charlottesville in 2017, the United States Marine Corps banned the display of the Confederate Battle Flag at their installations. The United States Navy followed suit on June 9 at the direction of Michael M. Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations.
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin ordered the removal of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park, Birmingham. The Alabama Attorney General has filed suit against the city of Birmingham for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
Vandals defaced the statue of Winston Churchill in London's Parliament Square and Queen Victoria's statue in Leeds. The Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the statue of General Casimir Pulaski were vandalized during the George Floyd protests in Washington, D.C. On June 7, the statue of Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into Bristol Harbour by demonstrators during the George Floyd protests in the United Kingdom. BLM activists in London are calling for the removal of 60 statues of historical figures like Prime Ministers Charles Grey and William Gladstone, Horatio Nelson, Sir Francis Drake, King Charles II of England, Oliver Cromwell and Christopher Columbus. Protesters in Belgium have vandalized statues of King Leopold II of Belgium.
In Washington, D.C., a statue of Indian freedom fighter and political ethicist Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised by unknown miscreants on the intervening night of June 2 and 3. The incident prompted the Indian Embassy to register a complaint with law enforcement agencies. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Indian Ambassador to the United States, called the vandalism "a crime against humanity". In London, another statue of Mahatma Gandhi was vandalised by Black Lives Matter protesters along with the statue of Winston Churchill.
On June 12, the city council in Hamilton, New Zealand removed the statue of Captain John Hamilton, a British officer who was killed during the Māori Wars in 1864. A local Māori elder Taitimu Maipi, who had vandalised the statue in 2018, has also called for the city to be renamed Kirikiriroa. New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called it a "wave of idiocy".
Changes to police policies[edit | edit source]
In the wake of Floyd's killing, state and local governments evaluated their own police department policies, and the response to protests, for themselves. For example, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for new police crowd control procedures for the state, and the banning of the police use of carotid chokeholds, which starve the brain of oxygen. The Minneapolis police department banned police from using chokeholds; Denver's police department also banned the use of chokeholds without exception, and also established new reporting requirements whenever a police officer holds a person at gunpoint.
In June 2020, Democrats in Congress introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a police reform and accountability bill that contains measures to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing. The impetus for the bill were the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans at the hands of police.
Abolition of police forces[edit | edit source]
Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council — a veto-proof majority — including Jeremiah Ellison, pledged on June 7 to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, despite opposition from Mayor Frey. U.S. representative Ilhan Omar stated, “the Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform. It's time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis."
Intellectual[edit | edit source]
- Armas, Marissa (June 10, 2020). "Bookstores selling out of books on racism, dismantling white supremacy". KOAT. https://www.wyff4.com/article/bookstores-selling-out-of-books-on-racism-dismantling-white-supremacy/32821023.
- Rankin, Sarah; Crary, David (June 11, 2020). "Historical figures reassessed after George Floyd's death". Associated Press. https://news.yahoo.com/historical-figures-under-attack-george-203434976.html.
Concerns over COVID-19 transmission[edit | edit source]
The mass protests occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic and health experts warned that the protests will likely facilitate an accelerated or rebounding spread of COVID-19. On June 4, CDC Director Robert Redfield warned lawmakers that the protests could be a "seeding event" for more coronavirus outbreaks. In early May, California Governor Gavin Newsom said "[t]he only thing that is assured to advance the spread of the virus is thousands of people congregated together not practicing social distancing or physical distancing". Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at Nottingham University, England states that there is "clear evidence that banning mass gatherings was one of the most effective and important parts of the lockdowns across European countries" and warned that "any mass gathering risks significant numbers of further cases".
United States concerns[edit | edit source]
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz worried about a spike in COVID-19 cases. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shared similar worries, describing the protests as "inherently dangerous in the context of this pandemic", and that people have the right to protest but that they don't have the "right to infect other people", or the "right to act in a way that's going to jeopardize public health". Later, he said that he would recommend protesters assume they were exposed. He also announced the opening of state COVID-19 testing facilities, which he also recommended to anyone who attended. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stated that "I am extremely concerned when we're seeing mass gatherings. We know what's happening in our community with this virus", She also said "If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a Covid test this week". Other officials, including Minnesota officials, also encouraged protestors to get tested. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said that "[t]here's no questions that when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity when we've got this virus all over the streets is not healthy". Anthony Fauci stated that congregations of large crowds in times and areas where there is active infection transmission are a "perfect set-up for the spread of the virus in the sense of creating these blips that might turn into some surges".
Mayor of Washington, D.C. Muriel Bowser stated that "We've been working hard to not have mass gatherings. As a nation, we have to be concerned about rebound". Spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Kristen Nordlund said “[i]t's too early to know what, if any, effect these events will have on the nation's federal COVID-19 response".
International concerns[edit | edit source]
Abroad, Australia's Health Minister Greg Hunt said that "[a]ny mass gathering at this time is a lottery with peoples' lives". Australian politician Mathias Cormann noted that for "families who haven't been able to attend funerals for their loved ones because they were doing the right thing by taking the health advice" it must be awful to watch these "people going recklessly to these sorts of demonstrations" and called their behaviour "incredibly selfish and "incredibly self-indulgent". Irish doctors issued a stark warning against mass gatherings and asked people to exercise judgement. In New Zealand, several figures including microbiologist and health adviser Siouxsie Wiles, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters, Opposition Leader Todd Muller, and ACT Party leader David Seymour criticized participants at local Black Lives Matters solidarity rallies held in several urban centers for flouting the country's COVID-19 lockdown restrictions banning public gatherings of over 100 people. Dr Wiles also called for people who attended the BLM marches and gatherings to self-isolate for 14 days.
British Health Secretary Matt Hancock also urged people to not to attend illegal large gatherings, including protests, of more than six people as the United Kingdom's death toll passed 40,000. "I support very strongly the argument that is being made by those who are protesting", he said, "but the virus itself doesn’t discriminate and gathering in large groups is temporarily against the rules precisely because it increases the risk of the spread of this virus". London police chief Cressida Dick also urged protesters to "find another way to make your views heard which does not involve coming out on the streets of London".
On-site factors influencing the spread[edit | edit source]
Adherence to protective practices[edit | edit source]
Experts have mixed views of the potential efficacy of properly used, non-medical-staff-grade face masks for limiting the spread of SARS-CoV-2. They note that using a face mask does not warrant stopping other protective practices, such as keeping sufficient physical distance from others. Others, however, believe the use of a face mask would be adequate for "protesting safely" without giving a clear specification of what "safely" means to them. Ashish Jha, Director of the Global Health Institute at Harvard's TH Chan School of Public Health, called masks critical. Theodore Long, a doctor affiliated with New York's contact tracing strategy, echoed Jha's point, and advocated "proper hand hygiene and to the extent possible, socially distance". Many participants of the protests with potentially unclear current and prior-infection-status – including some police officers – did not wear a face mask at all times, or adhere to other public safety guidelines. Thus George Floyd's family encouraged those attending the official public memorial to wear masks and gloves, as did multiple officials, including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney who asked demonstrators to follow social distancing guidelines, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who asked protesters to wear masks, and Minnesota's governor who warned that "too many" protesters were not applying physical person-to-person distances or wearing masks. Many also reiterated the previously communicated and sometimes law-codified importance of avoiding mass-gatherings during the pandemic in general.
Arrestee holding cells[edit | edit source]
Hundreds of people arrested by police in New York City – including both peaceful demonstrators and persons accused of violence – were detained in overcrowded, sometimes unsanitary holding cells, sometimes without face masks, prompting concerns over jail-spread COVID-19 cases. The Legal Aid Society sued the New York City Police Department, accusing it of detaining people for extended periods (up to three days) in violation of New York state law requiring that arrests receive arraignments within 24 hours. The department acknowledged that "it was common for up to two dozen people to be held for hours on buses before being taken to be booked" due to large backlogs and paperwork delays and that social distancing was impossible within jails, but a state trial court denied Legal Aid's request, given the "crisis within a crisis".
Effects of irritants, vocalizations, proximity-durations and locations[edit | edit source]
The use of tear gas may increase the spread of the virus due to coughing and lung damage. Smoke and pepper spray may also increase its spread. Outdoor events may have a substantially lower risk of spreading the disease than indoor ones, and the "transient" moments of people moving around may be less-hazardous than longer durations of proximity. Shouting and speaking loudly, which are common to both violent and non-violent protests, may also cause infections at distances greater than 6 feet (1.8 m). Group singing has also been associated with potential corona virus spread. Research has found that the share of infections due to a single infected person in a choir can be almost 90%, and that just a few contagious people can infect hundreds of susceptible people around them.
Consequences[edit | edit source]
Preventive measures against COVID-19 such as social distancing and the avoidance of mass gatherings are meant to not only protect the individual employing these measures from the virus but also to protect society and others – especially at-risk groups – from contracting the virus or being unable to get sufficient, life-saving treatment.[better source needed] Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under Trump said that "There's going to be a lot of issues coming out of what's happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings".
An Oklahoma State football player tweeted that he has tested positive for COVID-19 "after attending a protest in Tulsa AND being well protective of myself". In Columbus, Ohio, the first case of a protester testing positive for COVID-19 was announced on June 3. The person had been attending protests in the city's downtown, despite feeling coronavirus symptoms prior to attending. In several other cities participants have tested positive as well – including an asymptomatic local commissioner in Athens, Georgia and an individual who did not wear a face mask in Lawrence, Kansas. No city has yet attributed a major outbreak to the protests as of June 6 and it could take weeks until early effects are known. A study showed that average time from symptom onset to death was about 18 days – circulation of the virus from the protests to vulnerable individuals may take additional time. Some public health and infectious disease experts have warned that the mass gatherings will likely lead to a second wave of COVID-19 infections in fall. However, in many places a second wave in fall was expected even before the protests so these mass-gatherings may only make them more severe. Some epidemiologists state that early effects could be a spike in coronavirus infections two weeks after the protests.
Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and researcher at Brown University called for people to examine the racial disparities of the COVID-19 spread and their relation to the protests. The mortality due to COVID-19 was expected and shown to be higher among African Americans as this population is starting out with health outcomes that are disproportionately poor.
Erosion of public trust[edit | edit source]
The protests and reactions to it may potentially lead to an erosion of trust in the government, a range of scientists or doctors and measures to contain the pandemic. Over 1,000 medical staff have signed a letter according to which they "do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission" and instead "support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States" but that "this should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings" – instead they only support these mass-gatherings in particular. One epidemiologist, Jennifer Nuzzo, justified the currently unknown potential deaths arguing that she believes "the public health risks of not protesting for an end to systemic racism" "greatly exceed the harms of the virus". Some have commented on such reactions, stating that they appear to be politicizing science and that "the left" changed the coronavirus narrative overnight, distorting science similar to what "the right" is often accused of. Some have raised concerns over an, unfair, double standard whereby one should adhere to strict measures – including social distancing and closing businesses – while others are not only allowed but also cheered as heroes for joining the specific mass-gatherings they approve of.
Estimated potential deaths, attribution and legal consequences[edit | edit source]
An analysis by a Seattle scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, described as highly speculative by the author, predicts an additional 50 to 500 COVID-19 deaths for each day of mass gatherings downstream of the transmission chains within the U.S. only. The mechanisms by which the protests may increase COVID-19 deaths are by upending efforts, such as contact tracing, by health officials to track and contain the spread of COVID-19, reducing testing, eroding trust in the government, scientists as well as in the efficacy and validity of adhering to containment-measures during and after the pandemic, increasing large-scale physical proximity, and reducing the effectiveness of lockdowns. Due to these estimations being highly speculative and lacking various data the total number of deaths worldwide may also be much larger than his highest estimates. It has been estimated that millions of lives have been saved in Europe due to measures such as lockdowns. An announcement by officials of New Zealand suggests that there is a possibility of "eliminating" the virus within a country, which in some cases could substantially increase the number of lives that could have been saved if the physical protests would have been prevented, substantially reduced or not participated in. Lifting of containment restrictions shortly before or after the protests may lead to complications – specifically increasing infections.
The problems inherent to mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic have been communicated widely and were a rationale for measures such as lockdowns worldwide before George Floyd's death and the protests. Most protesters in Minneapolis interviewed by Wired magazine said they "participated with full knowledge of the health risks, and believe police brutality to be an even more urgent existential threat". Early test results of those who participated in demonstrations in Minnesota suggest that it did not result in an infection spike. More than 3,300 protesters in Minneapolis and St. Paul were tested at community sites; the initial batch of results reported that 1.4% of participants in demonstrations and protests tested positive for COVID-19. This is compared to a 3.7% positive rate for all tests on June 12, and a 3.7% positive seven-day rolling rate. The Minnesota Department of Health cautioned that the testing of protesters is "pre-emptive" as they typically are not reporting symptoms and thus their infection rate is expected to be lower than other large-scale testing.
The protests are largely organized decentralizedly by users – including several politicians, companies and people within the entertainment industry – of social media platforms, which did not flag or otherwise alter posts, who sometimes explicitly encouraged their audience to join the, often explicitly unlawful, mass-gatherings.
While expressing disappointment at the flouting of social distancing rules, Police Minister Stuart Nash indicated that New Zealand Police were not seeking to prosecute protest organisers and participants. Days before protests in the nation started New Zealand declared that it 'eliminated' COVID-19. Laws temporarily prohibiting physical mass-gatherings of more than a limited number of people – or in some cases the violations of physical distancing laws during such events – for the protection of public health have been broken in several countries and cities including in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New York City, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and France.Template:Additional citation needed
Reactions[edit | edit source]
Domestic[edit | edit source]
Federal[edit | edit source]
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Replying to @realDonaldTrump
....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!
May 29, 2020
On May 27, 2020, U.S. president Donald Trump tweeted "At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd...."
On May 29, Trump responded to the riots by threatening to send in the National Guard, adding that "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The tweet was interpreted as quoting former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in December 1967, as Miami saw escalating tensions and racial protests aimed at the 1968 Republican National Convention. Trump's use of the quote was seen by Twitter as an incitement of violence; Twitter placed the tweet behind a public interest notice for breaching its terms of service in regards to incitement of violence. The next day, Trump commented on his original tweet, saying, "Looting leads to shooting, and that's why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night – or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot. I don't want this to happen, and that's what the expression put out last night means...."
In a series of tweets on May 31, Trump blamed the press for fomenting the protests and said that journalists are "truly bad people with a sick agenda."
On June 1, in a teleconference with governors, Trump said they had been "weak" and insisted that they "have to dominate ... You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again." He later proclaimed in the White House Rose Garden, "I am your president of law and order" and said he was "dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers" to deal with rioting in Washington, D.C. Trump and an entourage subsequently departed the White House and walked to St. John's Episcopal Church, whose basement had been damaged by fire, and posed for pictures in front of it holding up a Bible. Police and national guardsmen had used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear a crowd of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square to clear a route for Trump, an event that drew widespread condemnation from military and religious leaders, as well as fellow Republicans. Four days after this event Washington D.C. renamed the street corner in front of St. John's Church "Black Lives Matter Plaza" and painted "BLACK LIVES MATTER" in large, yellow letters stretching from Lafayette Square north for two blocks.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) argued that extremists from the far-left and the far-right wanted to take aim at civil society and could potentially start a Second American Civil War. Republican Senators Ben Sasse, Susan Collins, Tim Scott and Lisa Murkowski; Congressional Democrats, including Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer; and several military officials associated with various presidential administrations—including three former Trump appointees, ex-Secretary of Defense and retired Marine Corps general Jim Mattis, former White House Chief of Staff and Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Mick Mulroy—criticized Trump's handling of the protests. Many other Congressional Republicans either defended the Trump administration's actions or avoided directly responding to questions about the military clearance.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden compared the death of George Floyd to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, saying that even "Dr. King's assassination did not have the worldwide impact that George Floyd's death did."
States[edit | edit source]
On May 30, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that the riots have exposed the "inequality and discrimination in the criminal justice system" and that "When you have one episode, two episodes maybe you can look at them as individual episodes. But when you have 10 episodes, 15 episodes, you are blind or in denial if you are still treating each one like a unique situation,"
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms called for protesters to express their anger through "non-violent" means. She decried the riots as illegitimate and accused them of harming Atlanta rather than helping.
General public[edit | edit source]
An opinion poll indicates the majority (64%) of American adults are "sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now" and a slight majority (55%) disapprove of Trump's handling of the protests. Polls indicate that among American voters, 46% approve of the protests, 38% disapprove and 16% were neutral; 76% of voters disapprove of looting and property destruction during the protests, while 17% approve.
Industry[edit | edit source]
On May 31, Walmart temporarily closed several hundred of its stores as a precaution. Amazon announced it would redirect some delivery routes and scale back others as a result of the widespread unrest. Meanwhile, Amazon Studios issued a statement supporting Black Lives Matter.
In response to complains on social media reiterating complaints mentioned in a racial discrimination lawsuit, Walmart announced it would no longer store hair care products appropriate for most African Americans in locked security cases (which it had only been doing in a few stores, where products for other types of hair were not locked up).
Various other companies have made public statements against racism and injustice and other displays of support since the death of George Floyd.
Media industry[edit | edit source]
In the media industry, the protests have spurred scrutiny for cop shows and led to the cancellation of popular television shows referred to by critics as copaganda. With long-standing criticism that it presented an unbalanced view of law enforcement in favor of police, encouraged police to engage in more dramatic behavior for the camera, and degraded suspects who had not yet been convicted of any crime, the Paramount Network canceled the 33rd season of the TV show Cops and pulled it from broadcast. The television network A&E cancelled a similar show, Live PD, which was also found to have destroyed footage documenting the police killing of Javier Ambler in Austin, Texas, in 2019. The streaming service HBO Max temporarily pulled the film Gone with the Wind until video that explains and condemns the film's racist depictions could be produced to accompany it.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
See also[edit | edit source]
- 1980 Miami riots – Protests after an unarmed black salesman was beaten to death by police officers in 1979 and the officers involved were acquitted in May 1980.
- 2014 Ferguson unrest – The large-scale unrest after the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police.
- 2015 Baltimore protests – Protests following the arrest and subsequent death of Freddie Gray.
- List of incidents of civil unrest in the United States
- Mass racial violence in the United States
Notes[edit | edit source]
- See Deaths section for more details and citations.
- See Donald Trump photo op at St. John's Church § Tear gas usage and denial for more information on the veracity of this claim.
References[edit | edit source]
Further reading[edit | edit source]
- Sprunt, Barbara. The History Behind 'When The Looting Starts, The Shooting Starts'. NPR. May 29, 2020
- Owen, Tess. Far-Right Extremists Are Hoping to Turn the George Floyd Protests Into a New Civil War. Vice. May 29, 2020
- Hartman, Sid. Unrest in Minneapolis echoes summer of 1967. Star Tribune. May 30, 2020
- George Floyd Protesters in Multiple Cities Target Confederate Monuments. AP/Time. May 31, 2020
- Pellerin, Ananda. The people creating art to remember George Floyd. CNN Style. June 1, 2020
- Chayka, Kyle. The Mimetic Power of D.C.’s Black Lives Matter Mural. The New Yorker. June 9, 2020
[edit | edit source]
- George Floyd protest tag, U.S. Press Freedom Tracker
- Running list of hoaxes and misleading posts, BuzzFeed News
Template:Death of George Floyd Template:Monuments and memorials removed during the George Floyd protests Template:Ongoing protests Template:Black Lives Matter Template:Riots in the United States (1980–Present)