Why is Minneapolis “burning” 🔥?

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This article is written by Nidhi Singh, a 3rd-year student from Lloyd Law college, Greater Noida.

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd[1] 46 years old and an African-American, murdered brutally like an animal by the hands of Derek Chauvin a ‘White’ police officer in the U.S. He was not supposed to die in this way but the rising level of ‘Racism’ in America did that evil act.

 Even Minneapolis’s hapless mayor, Jacob Frey[2]—under siege as his city burns—graces the violence with understanding. “There is a lot of pain and anger in our city,” said Frey, adding that “this is what happens” when long-standing issues of race and poverty go unaddressed. It’s “not just because of five minutes of horror,” Frey noted in a press conference, referring to the images of George Floyd gasping for air beneath a police officer’s knee, “but 400 years.”

Bystanders captured video of the officer behind a police car using his knee to pin Mr. Floyd by his neck. Mr. Floyd[3] is heard repeatedly saying, “I can’t breathe,” in the video[4].

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on Friday and charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, but his arrest was not enough to stem the spread of protests that have continued throughout the country on Friday and Saturday.

In Minneapolis, police officers retreated from the Third Precinct in vehicles just after 10 p.m. local time as protesters broke into the building, where they smashed equipment, lit fires, and set off fireworks, according to videos posted from the scene.

We’re starting fires in here so be careful,” one man shouted as sprinklers doused protesters who had burst inside. Flames began to rise from the front of the building as hundreds of protesters looked on, and soon smoke was billowing from the roof.

The city of Minneapolis warned protesters to stay away from the precinct, saying on Twitter that there had been unconfirmed reports of cut gas lines and explosives in the building. Police had cleared the 3rd precinct shortly after 10 p.m. when demonstrators forcibly entered and “ignited several fires[5],” department spokesman John Elder said.

Protest converted into Destruction

However, Protest is the right of every individual but how far right is ‘right’? If protestors looting and burning property or shops of those people who serve for them, then this is going beyond the limits of protests. There were dozens of fires and more than 170 damaged or looted buildings, the St. Paul police said, but no reports of serious injuries.

Mr. Frey[6], a Democrat, said he understood the anger of the city’s residents but pleaded with people to stop destroying property and stealing from stores.

It’s not just enough to do the right thing yourself,” he said. “We need to be making sure that all of us are held accountable.”

Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis said at a news conference early Friday morning that he had made the call for officers to flee the Third Precinct, saying “the symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life.”

Justice for George Floyd

“They executed my brother in broad daylight,” Mr. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told CNN on Thursday, breaking down in tears. “I am just tired of seeing black people dying.”

“That video is graphic and horrific and terrible, and no person should do that,” Mr. Freeman (county attorney at Minneapolis) said of the Minneapolis officer’s actions.

Members of Mr. Floyd’s family had earlier called for justice during television appearances.

“I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did,” said Bridgett Floyd, his sister. Tera Brown, Mr. Floyd’s cousin, said: “I don’t want the protests to be for just show. I want to see action.”

“This was clearly murder,” she added.

President Trump called the Minneapolis protesters “thugs” and implied looting demonstrators could be shot in two tweets posted early Friday morning, which Twitter later said violated its rules against promoting violence.

 ‘Racism’- an evil in the U.S

The lack of respect for the black community, they deserve to be treated with dignity finally led to the death of George Floyd. His death ignited long-simmering fury over racism with the national eruption of protestors hitting the roads. Protests extended from Minneapolis to dozens of American cities.

Why didn’t the death toll of more than 100,000 from the coronavirus pandemic send shockwaves? Why was it the killing of a single black man that triggered such sweeping protests? 

While the virus does not differentiate people (regardless of their rank, race, and age), racism does. Despite that the US is dubbed as a “melting pot,” disparities exist among different races in the country. Although racial equality is guaranteed in law, from the social level, and from people’s mindsets, potential racial conflicts are brewing.

In 2017, a study of all interactions between US police officers and citizens via body camera footage shows that officers speak with consistently less respect toward black people than the white community.

In 2016, two black men were shot dead by police, leading to protests against police killings. The protests ended with one man firing upon a group of police officers, killing five of them and injuring nine others. The killer, who was black, said he was upset about police shootings and wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.

The death of Floyd is just the latest in a line of similar incidents in the US in recent years, many of which have led to mass protests. The slogan “black lives matter” reflects the fixated tension between black people and white police.

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/us/george-floyd-minneapolis-death.html

[2] https://www.city-journal.org/george-floyd-minneapolis-riots

[3] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52861726

[4] https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/05/30/video-timeline-george-floyd-death/?arc404=true

[5] https://twitter.com/Seth_Kaplan/status/1266214898171772930

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/28/us/george-floyd-national-guard.html#link-7bacb948

Image courtesy: National Review

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