There have been large demonstrations following the death of George Floyd after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground and kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over five minutes, despite Floyd protesting that he couldn’t breathe and bleeding from his nose. Some of the demonstrations erupted into violence and looting and the police are again accused of over-reacting.
Governor Tim Walz ordered the national guard to the site at around midnight, and St Paul police and the state patrol were also present. Police said they were investigating the shooting death as a homicide and had a suspect in custody.
Mayor Jacob Frey told a Star Tribune reporter at around midnight: “Please, please, Minneapolis. We cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy. The activity around Lake and Hiawatha is now unsafe. Please, help us keep the peace.”
A Minneapolis police spokesman, John Elder, said at a press conference early on Thursday that the shooting death was believed to have occurred after a pawnshop owner had accused the victim of looting his business.
There was looting on Wednesday evening, though most protests were focused on decrying the death of Floyd, 46. Some large fires were alight on the streets that continued to burn on Thursday morning.
Crowds looted a nearby Target, which at one point was reported to be on fire. Looting spread into dozens of area businesses, including a US Bank. By 10pm, an AutoZone parts retailer had caught fire, followed by several more sites, including the construction site of an affordable housing apartment complex.
As they did on Tuesday night, police fired rubber bullets and teargas to try to disperse crowds. The response has been criticized as heavy handed, and city council members pleaded for the police presence to be decreased to try and de-escalate the scenes.
Council member Jeremiah Ellison tweeted: “If the strategy was to keep residents safe, it failed. Prevent property damage, it failed. Why are our officers firing at people from rooftops? Why is MPD [Minneapolis police department] not acting like they work for Minneapolis?”
What jumped out at me in this report was this sentence.
The officers had arrested Floyd outside a grocery store after reported use of a counterfeit bill.
Trying to pass a counterfeit bill is one of the pettiest of crimes. Why would it require the presence of four officers to deal with it and why would it require such a high level of force as to cause a person’s death?
The four officers involved have all been fired but there are calls are for at least some of them to be charged with murder. The local district attorney has not yet made any statement as to what he plans to do. Derek Chauvin, the officer directly responsible for the killing, and Tou Thao, who was present at the scene, have a history of using excessive force and brutality.
The second officer, Tou Thao, is a 10-year veteran of the force. He was previously sued by a man who alleged he and two officers used excessive force during an 2014 arrest. The man, who had been walking along with his pregnant girlfriend, was stopped by Thao and another officer. The lawsuit alleged they “punch[ed], kick[ed] and kn[eed]” the man’s “face and body” causing “broken teeth as well as other bruising and trauma”. The lawsuit was settled out of court.
Combined, the men have been the subject of more than a dozen civilian complaints, for which Chauvin has faced three verbal reprimands. The database confirmed that internal reviews of Chauvin and Thao’s use of force by the Minneapolis police department resulted in no disciplinary action each time.
This is what happens when police departments fail to take strong action against the sociopaths in their ranks. They feel that they can act with impunity.