Police in riot gear fire rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of protestors demanding the arrest of four white Minneapolis cops involved in the death of black man George Floyd
Minneapolis cops in riot gear have fired rubber bullets at thousands of defiant protesters who took to the streets to demand justice for George Floyd, the black man who died after a white officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during his arrest.
Demonstrators carrying placards reading ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘Justice 4 Floyd’ surrounded a police precinct Tuesday night after the disturbing video of 46-year-old Floyd begging the cop to stop before falling unconscious was shared online.
Four members of the Minneapolis Police Department who were involved in Monday’s incident have now been fired, and the FBI and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the man’s death.
The victim’s heartbroken family have called for the cops to be charged with murder and their lawyer revealed white cop Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a staggering eight minutes during the arrest for forgery.
Floyd worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro, a local bistro in Minneapolis. The bar’s owners have described him as a ‘very calm, nice guy’ who was not the type to be ‘aggressive, disrespectful’.
The demonstrators demanded the arrest of the four officers but were met with rubber bullets and tear gas fired by masked cops as the city’s streets descended into chaos.
Some had their faces doused in milk to limit the effects of the gas while others ran for cover.
The peaceful event turned ugly as it continued into the night, with footage showing both police and protesters hurling things at each other.
Police in riot gear were pictured forming a barrier around the precinct from around 7.30pm as swarms of people marched on the building, reported CBS Local.
Footage then revealed some protesters sitting on the ground, while officers threw smoke bombs, tear gas and flash grenades into the crowds.
At one point, a car was seen being struck by a tear gas canister as people ran away.
Images showed people who had gathered for the rally desperately fleeing as rubber bullets and tear gas rained down on them.
In one picture, a man was seen holding his hands up in a gesture that started in the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ movement in Ferguson in 2014, following the fatal shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer.
Others hid behind shopping carts from the Target store nearby.
Shawanda Hill, the girlfriend of George Floyd, was pictured at the rally near the spot where her boyfriend died being comforted by other protesters as she choked back tears of grief.
A reporter for Star Tribune, Andy Mannix, said in a Twitter post that he was shot in the thigh with a rubber bullet while covering the protests, as tensions mounted between law enforcement and the protesters.
The demonstrators hit back at the police too, with some seen throwing bricks and rocks at police vehicles and smashing up the car windows.
One man was seen launching a large brick onto an empty squad car.
There have been reports of at least one officer injured in the chaos.
Hundreds of people began gathering at the intersection of E 38th St and Chicago Avenue in the city during the afternoon, ahead of a planned march of around two miles from the site of Floyd’s arrest to the police precinct.
One woman was seen wearing a face mask with the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ written across her mouth.
Protesters raised their fists and sported face masks to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 as they gathered for the rally near the spot where Floyd died.
The clashes between police and protesters came as Floyd’s devastated family broke their silence over his death and said the firing of the four officers involved was just ‘a start’ and that the cops ‘murdered our cousin’.
Two of Floyd’s cousins spoke of their heartache to TMX.news, while the family’s lawyer called for white cop Derek Chauvin to be charged with murder and the other three officers involved charged as murder accomplices.
Shareeduh Tate, one of Floyd’s cousins, told how she watched the horrific footage on TV before realizing it was her ‘baby cousin’.
‘I actually saw it before knowing it was my cousin – I saw it on Gayle King,’ said Shareeduh Tate.
‘And I remember thinking how devastating this would be for the family who have lost their family member like this… then about five minutes after that I got a phone call saying that it was my cousin.’
She thanked the bystanders who were heard in the footage urging the police to stop what they were doing and warning them that they were killing Floyd.
‘I can’t thank them enough. We always see these kinds of things take place and we always wonder what we would do in that position and we’re so grateful… and even more so grateful for the person who was there with a camera to capture it as so many times there is not a witness around and it’s questionable as to what has happened,’ Tate said.
Floyd’s other cousin Tera Brown called the footage ‘unbelievable’.
‘It’s unbelievable to see someone suffering in the way that he did,’ she said. ‘And to have so many people around asking for them to basically allow him to live.’
Tate said the firing of the four police officers was ‘a start’ but is ‘definitely not enough’ as she blasted the authorities for ‘murdering’ the father-of-one.
‘They murdered our cousin,’ she said.
Brown described him as ‘the cousin that everybody loved’ who was ‘always happy’ and a ‘jokester’.
‘He was everybody’s favorite everything – he was the favorite friend, the favorite cousin,’ she added.
She said news of his death has been especially hard on Floyd’s daughter who she said is ‘not doing well’.
Ben Crump, the attorney for the victim’s family has demanded officers face murder charges over the killing and said this is ‘worse than Eric Garner’ because the officers held Floyd down by the neck for a staggering eight minutes.
Crump pointed to the similarities in the case with the death of unarmed black man Garner who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.
Parallels have already been drawn between the two cases but Crump described Floyd’s death as even ‘worse’.
‘I mean it was 8 minutes. It is in many ways worse than Eric Garner as they have his knees on his neck and he is begging, pleading for not one minute, not two minutes, not three minutes but eight minutes – begging them to let him breathe so we have ‘we can’t breathe’ again in 2020,’ he said.
‘It just takes you back to Eric Garner and now we have another black man saying to police ‘I can’t breathe’ and them not offering any humanity.’
Crump said news that the officers had been fired was a ‘good first step’ but said it does not go far enough to getting justice for the dead man.
‘I think the officer should be charged with murder,’ Crump told TMX.news, about Derek Chauvin, who has been identified as the cop who held Floyd down by the neck.