A horrific video released Monday shows a black man laying face down, handcuffed on the street with a white cop kneeling on his neck. The man, George Floyd, tells the officer, “I can’t breathe” multiple times but remains pinned down for nearly ten minutes. The Minnesota Police Department was responding to a suspected forgery report and arrived to find Floyd sitting on his car, reportedly “under the influence.” When they asked him to step away, he resisted, but they were able to handcuff him. As he is pinned down, bystanders begin yelling at the officers, pointing out that his nose is bleeding and telling someone to check his pulse. He is later pronounced dead. All four officers involved have been fired, and the FBI is conducting an investigation.
The event has sparked national outrage. Hundreds protested in Minneapolis Tuesday night chanting, “I can’t breathe.” Some people graffitied buildings and vandalized squad cars. The protest, which started peacefully, eventually erupted into violence with police releasing tear gas and rubber bullets and protesters responding with rocks and water bottles.
Both sides of the aisle are calling for investigation and action. Minn. Gov. Tim Walz (D) Tweeted about the incident, “The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening. We will get answers and seek justice.” Republican governor of South Carolina Tim Scott Tweeted, “Firing the officers that killed #GeorgeFloyd was the right first move. The second? Arrest them.” The police’s actions were condemned by Rep. Ilhan Omar: “Shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at unarmed protesters when there are children present should never be tolerated. Ever.”
The Minneapolis Police Department wrote in a statement that Floyd “physically resisted” the officers and seemed to be in “medical distress” when they handcuffed him. They report that an ambulance was called, and he later died in police custody. The Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis President Bob Kroll said the union will support the officers and states, “Now is not the time rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers. An in-depth investigation is underway. Our officers are fully cooperating. We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report.” The medical examiner reported that the cause of death is under investigation and awaiting further testing.