CHICAGO: Violence by protesters angered at the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota on May 25 spread across America resulting in major damage to businesses including arson and violence that killed at least two people and injured many police officers in dozens of American cities.
Floyd, 46, died while in police custody after he allegedly tried to twice use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy food at an Arab American-owned grocery store, Cup Foods, located on the South end of Minneapolis’ downtown area.
One of the four Minneapolis Police Officers, Derek Chauvin, 44, who responded to a call from a Cup Foods store employee, held Floyd down in the street using his knee pressing on the suspect’s neck. Floyd was taken down and handcuffed by the police apparently after resisting arrest. Chauvin was fired the next day and charged with 3rd degree murder.
Despite the charges against Chauvin, protests spread throughout the country and worsened during the next five days in Minneapolis where more than 228 businesses were destroyed. Protests exploded in many other cities including in New York, Chicago, Houston, Detroit, Los Angeles and Atlanta where looting, arson and attacks against police in those cities were broadcast on live television news throughout the night.
The governor of California declared a state of emergency, while the Mayor of Chicago ordered a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew that was ignored by the protesters who swarmed throughout the city’s downtown business district all night breaking windows and burning police and other vehicles.
What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. … This is chaos.
Keisha Lance Bottoms, Atlanta’s mayor
The nationwide riots were particularly difficult because much of the country has been under stay-at-home orders because of the COVID-19 pandemic that were being eased. Many of the protesters wore masks used as protection against the pandemic but prevented police from identifying many of the looters and arsonists seen in many videos taken by the public and shared on social media.
The protests became politicized as Democrats and Republicans blamed each other; Democrats accused law enforcement of racist brutality while Republicans denounced the looting and violence as having nothing to do with bringing justice to the victim or his family. Many of the protests were organized by the African American-led Black Lives Matter movement which has been protesting killings of blacks by police.
Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who is African American, denounced the violence saying, “What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr.,” an impassioned Bottoms said at a news conference. “This is chaos.”
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporter Saturday as rioters savaged the city’s business district that Floyd had grown up in Houston and his body would be buried.
“This is the same city that George Floyd grew up in. And his body will be returning to this city,” Turner said. “And so the focus needs to be on supporting and uplifting this family.”
Several people were killed by protestors including one 19-year-old man in Detroit shot by unknown assailants during a vehicle drive-by. In Oakland, California, a security guard at a US Federal Building was shot dead on Friday night while protecting the building.
Police in cities across the country have been ordered to minimize contact with protestors even as those protestors threw Molotov cocktails, bottles of urine, rocks and other large objects at the police who were wearing riot gear.
A Chicago police officer suffered broken bones and dozens of others were injured during the riots Saturday night.
The national retailer, Target, announced it was closing 175 stores because of the riots and damage to several of their locations mostly in Minnesota, California and New York.