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May 27, 20

Minneapolis Explodes Against the Police in Wake of George Floyd’s Murder

Cover Image Collage Featuring Unicorn Riot

The streets of Minneapolis exploded on Tuesday evening, following the horrific murder of a 46 year-old African-American man, George Floyd, at the hands of white police officers on Monday. In a now viral video, Floyd’s grizzly murder was captured on film, as a white police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck while he lie on the ground for several minutes, as an angry crowd gathered and recorded the killing. In the video, Floyd can be heard saying that he was not able to breathe, echoing the words last spoken by Eric Garner, who was also killed by police in 2014 in a similar incident in New York.

As CBS Minnesota wrote:

Overnight, video of the attempted arrest circulated on social media. Posted by Darnella Frazier on Facebook, the nine-minute video shows a white officer pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck behind a squad car. While lying facedown on the road, Floyd repeatedly groans and says he can’t breathe.

“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one bystander tells the white officer and his partner, in the video. “You’re f—ing stopping his breathing right now, you think that’s cool?”

After about five minutes, Floyd stops moving and appears unconscious. People in the gathering crowd plead for the officers to check Floyd’s pulse. The officer on Floyd’s neck does not lift his knee until medical personnel arrive and carry him to an ambulance.

Directly following the video of Floyd’s murder going viral, all four of the officers that were involved in the killing were fired, a rarity in cases involving police deadly use of force. Multiple media outlets also reported that the FBI is now investigating the killing “for possible civil-rights violations.” According to Mapping Police Violence, police are charged with a crime following deadly encounters only 1.7% of the time. Data from Killed By Police, a website which tracks police killings, shows that at least 400 people have been killed by law enforcement in 2020, making for an average of around 3 people per day.

Despite expected heavy rains and the firing of the four officers, the demonstration on Tuesday evening brought out thousands of people onto the streets; the vast majority of them wearing masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Arial shots of the demonstration show it stretching across several city blocks. According to folks on the ground, actions happened throughout the city. At the intersection where George Floyd was murdered, there was a continuous gathering and street blockade. Marches on Tuesday took off from various points; collectively converging on the 3rd precinct. During one of these marches, anti-police graffiti slogans were extensively painted. Upon converging at the precinct, the massive crowd surrounded the building and the front window of the precinct was busted out and people began to write slogans on police cars and building walls, while others pelted other windows with eggs and projectiles. People then began attempting to break out more windows before being repelled by police tear gas from officers inside the building.

It should also be noted that during this time, other demonstrations were also taking place – outside of the home of Derek Chauvin, the now fired police officer at the center of the video showing the murder of George Floyd. Posts to social media show large crowds outside of the home of the former officer with one person commenting that several attempts at food delivery had been turned away, “So he’s in there hungry. Hope he’s fucking scared.” Chauvin lives in Oakdale, a suburb of St. Paul, “joining the estimated 94 percent (in 2014) of Minneapolis police officers who live outside the city,” according to one local news report.

Meanwhile, back at the 3rd precinct, during this chaos, various “peace police” attempted to contain the crowd, trying to get them to stop attacking police property, yet these cries fell almost completely on deaf ears. A group of police wearing gas masks were then successful in pushing the crowd away from the building and towards the police parking lot, where people began to tear open fences to vandalize and attack a variety of police vehicles; breaking out windows, mirrors, popping tires and spray painting slogans.

Enraged, police then began shooting massive amounts of projectile weapons and tear-gas into the parking lot, pushing people onto the adjacent street, and away from their vehicles. Unicorn Riot reported on the ground that these tear-gas canisters led to a series of small fires, which were quickly put out by demonstrators, who also threw the tear gas back towards the police. Officers also shot off large amounts of “marker rounds,” which left large blotches of paint behind when fired; marking an individual for possible later arrest.

Over the next several hours, running street battles took place between protesters and law enforcement, much of it within the parking lot of the nearby Target store. Rioters built barricades with shopping cars while police attacked the crowd indiscriminately. Those on the streets, many very young, acted bravely in the face of intense police violence, protecting each other, treating tear-gas, and throwing back smoke canisters. As the evening wore on, people also looted the nearby liquor store and smaller clashes continued to break out with police until the early morning of Wednesday.

A Minneapolis City Council member described the police violence on Twitter, writing:

This is a disgusting display. I’m here on the southside, helping people as I can with milk, water, and towels. So far, I have been unable to prevent the police from firing indiscriminately into the crowd. Moments ago, I held a towel to a teenage girls head as blood poured from it.

The uprising comes after several months of rising unemployment and massive State failure in the face of the coronavirus, which so-far has led to the deaths of over 100,000 people. People in the so-called US have also watched over the past month as both elite interests and neo-fascist groups have pushed jointly for the economy to “ReOpen,” which has only solidified poor and working-people, often of color, being placed onto the front lines of the pandemic. The fact that police have shown heavily armed far-Right protesters nothing but kid gloves for the past month at various “ReOpen” rallies was also not lost on anyone, and many on social media pointed out the vast difference in police response. Ironically, several far-Right “Boogaloo” protesters did try and intervene in support of the demonstrations in Minneapolis, only to be quickly shown the door.

The Minneapolis Uprising will surely be seen as a turning point in 2020, not only in terms of marking the first large scale grassroots rebellion against the State in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, but also because it showed the drive of the people to take action in the face of various forces attempting to push them off the streets. But from activist protest managers, to police with high grade firepower, to even the State’s quick rush to fire the officers involved in the killing, all efforts failed in putting a wet blanket over the popular rage of the thousands who turned up Tuesday night and made chants of, “No Justice, No Peace,” not just an empty threat, but a promise of total ungovernability.

On Wednesday, May 27th, the City of Minneapolis began construction of a metal fence around the 3rd precinct, as new protests began in the streets.

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