Days after his tragic killing when the George Floyd funeral happened hundreds of American flags lined the streets outside showing how moved people were by the episode. For many the movement that has gone on for weeks is much more than just a black man dying. Among those who were part of the services and wanted to see him one last time were parents who came with children, co-workers, and well-wishers from out of town, many clad in black. The death of George has become a major catalyst for protests not only in America but across the globe. There have been demonstrations in all 50 US states. During the memorial service for Floyd in Minneapolis protestors in several US cities stood in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the same amount of time Floyd spent pinned to the ground under Derek Chauvin’s knee.
Thousands of people demonstrated in central London, chanting: “No Justice! No peace!” in Trafalgar Square before marching to the US embassy. There were protests outside the US embassy in Copenhagen. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Berlin carrying signs that read: “Silence is violence”; “Hold cops accountable”; and “Who do you call when police murder?”
Solidarity gatherings were also held in New Zealand. From police to the entertainment sector, business and media all have vociferously spoken up. From Minneapolis to Houston, where Floyd grew up there has been an outpouring of pain and grief. The millions of those venting their ire have gone on to call out the “systemic racism” of America.
As calls for reforms in America grow, the U.S. Conference of Mayors has assembled a Police Reform and Racial Justice Working Group. All this as many cities have called for task forces. Congressional lawmakers have also introduced the Justice in Policing Act of 2020 banning chokeholds creating a model use of force standard, establish a National Police Misconduct Registry, and mandate training on biases including racial profiling.
In a little over two weeks since George Floyd died, “Justice for George Floyd” has become an omnipresent mantra with little agreement on what that would mean from a public policy perspective.
For a progressive groups and consortiums the moment is about dismantling police power and investing in mental health, housing and education. In the original news release of the Minneapolis Police Department the actions of the officers are described as – The officers “were able to get the suspect in to handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.” No mention of the knee on his neck. No mention of his cries for help.
The custodial killing of unarmed African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 ignited a nationwide movement against police brutality in the United States. In days following Floyd’s demise — National Guard soldiers were deployed, curfews were imposed and thousands were arrested as prominent public places across the US were overrun by protesters.
In a video that surfaced later, Floyd is seen pleading with Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who suffocated him by pinning him to the ground under his knee for several minutes. Floyd’s final words, “I can’t breathe” — soon became a rallying cry for protests across the globe. Chauvin and three other police officials involved in Floyd’s death have since been fired and arrested.
Floyd was born in North Carolina and spent most of his life in Houston, Texas. He moved to Minneapolis in search of work in 2014. Best known as ‘Big Floyd’ to friends, the 46-year-old is survived by his girlfriend Courtney Ross and three children.
With his towering height of 6 ft 6 inches, Floyd was fondly remembered by several of his loved ones as a ‘gentle giant’, Reuters reported. He was a star athlete in high school with a keen interest in basketball and football. Floyd eventually dropped out of school and began to make music with a local hip-hop group in Houston, as per reports.
Prior to his death, he lost his job as a security guard at a local Latin American restaurant in Minneapolis after a lockdown was imposed in the city due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sun reported.
Floyd was detained in Minneapolis on May 25 after a delivery employee called 911 and alleged that he had bought cigarettes with counterfeit $20 bills. About fifteen minutes after the police arrived at the scene, Floyd was dead. Floyd was a 46-year-old who had, until recently, been working as a restaurant bouncer in Minneapolis. Some reports state that he was also working as a truck driver. In 2007, Floyd was charged with armed robbery, and, two years later, he was sentenced to five years in prison as a part of plea deal.
The cop Chauvin has had 18 complaints on his official record. Two of out of these complaints ended with discipline from the department, according to reports. He has also been involved in three police shootings, one of which turned fatal. The other officer seen prominently in the videos is Tou Thao, against whom six police complaints have previously been filed. He was also accused of brutality in 2014 while arresting an African American man. That was settled out of court.
Protests in Minneapolis started a day after, on May 26, when the place in front of the store where Floyd died was turned into a memorial for him.
Cities, like New York and Washington DC, too, began reporting clashes during demonstrations. With protests turning violent, Trump had to be rushed into an underground bunker for protection. He later had even called in the Army to tackle the situation in America.
Protests have reportedly erupted in every US state, and curfews have been imposed in over 40 cities across the country. On May 30, at least 12 states called up the National Guard to contain the demonstrations.
Several companies and brands, including Nike, Facebook, Citibank, Grindr and Netflix, among many others, weighed in and called for equality and end to racism, with the message of “Black Lives Matter” echoing through their solidarity campaigns.
A gamut of ex presidents and nations including Canada, China, Russia and Iran, among others, condemned the killing in official capacities. Critics have pointed out many African Americans losing their lives. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Elijah McClain. As things get serious, Minneapolis has banned the use of choke holds, as have Washington, DC, Chicago and Denver — among other locales.
The Aurora Police Department in Michigan banned the carotid control hold that cuts off blood flow to the brain. The mayors of Chicago, Cincinnati and Tampa, Florida, and the police chiefs of Baltimore, Phoenix and Columbia, South Carolina, have come together to create the Police Reform and Racial Justice Working Group. The mayor of San Francisco, banned neck restraints
Many CEOs and prominent heads have stepped down after claims of racism. After several black writers revealed their experiences with racism at the women’s website Refinery29 , the site’s editor-in-chief stepped down “to help diversify leadership in editorial.”
CrossFit CEO Greg Glassman resigned after comments he made about the Black Lives Matter movement, using the term “Floyd-19”.
Audrey Gelman, CEO of the women’s social club and coworking community The Wing, resigned, too. HBO removed ‘Gone with the Wind’ temporarily for racist depictions of slavery and the Confederate South during the Civil War. As US sees the new wave of anti racism protests ahead of the US elections slated for later this year, the world watches.