The month of May has been taxing. It began with growing awareness about the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery and ended with a video of a police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, killing him. The week following Floyd’s death has been tumultuous, with tensions rising and police violently trying to tamp down the uprisings that have occurred nationwide. Below is a timeline of everything that has happened in the week following Floyd’s death.
Police were called to investigate after Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill at Minneapolis deli Cup Foods. Video of the incident was posted on Facebook and quickly went viral. Floyd is seen on the ground with an officer pressing his knee on his neck for over eight minutes. Three officers are seen standing by, doing nothing as Floyd repeatedly pleads for the officer to get off of him, saying “I can’t breathe...I can’t breathe...everything hurts.” Multiple witnesses are heard telling the officer to get off of Floyd as he loses consciousness.
All four officers seen in the video are fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. On Twitter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey says this was “The right call.” The FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Investigation began an investigation into Floyd’s death. The first night of protests happens in Minneapolis with protestors chanting “I can’t breathe.” Floyd’s family comes forward to demand that charges be pressed against the officers on the video.
The four officers are identified as Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng. Mayor Frey holds a press conference where he calls on federal prosecutors to file charges against the men seen in the video. As the second night of protests begins in Minneapolis, the first wave of nationwide protests take place in Los Angeles and Memphis. No arrests are made at the Los Angeles protests but in Memphis, cops in riot gear arrest two protestors.
Charges have still not been filed against any of the officers involved in Floyd’s death. Protests intensify across the country as demonstrations are held in Phoenix, New York and Columbus, Ohio. Protests also occur in Louisville, Ky. over the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police. The Louisville mayor announces the suspension of “no-knock” warrants in the wake of these protests.
It is revealed that Chauvin, the officer who had his knee on the neck of Floyd was involved in three officer-related shootings and had a history of complaints throughout his time on the force. It is also revealed that Chauvin and Floyd previously worked together at the same nightclub and had overlapping shifts. It is unclear whether they had any interaction with each other during this period.
Chauvin is arrested by the Bureau of Investigation and charged with 3rd-degree murder and manslaughter. Donald Trump calls the protestors “thugs” and tweets: “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” This results in Trump’s tweet being flagged for glorifying violence. The owner of the nightclub where Chauvin and Floyd worked reveals that Chauvin had a history of using “overkill” on black clubbers and was quick to use force.
Oscar Jimenez, a half-black, half-Mexican journalist for CNN is arrested on camera while reporting the protests. As protests continued throughout the day there are numerous instances of journalists being assaulted by the police. In Louisville, a police officer was seen on camera firing a pepper bullet at a reporter.
An autopsy conducted on Floyd’s body by the county medical examiner finds that a combination of “pre-existing conditions” and a “combination of intoxicants” contributed to Floyd’s death and not the fact a man had a knee on his neck for almost eight minutes.
Floyd’s family secures an independent autopsy to be conducted on Floyd’s body. Further protests are held in cities all around the country such as Atlanta, Brooklyn, Salt Lake City and Denver. Bus drivers in New York refused to transport prisoners for the NYPD. The President briefly retreats to his bunker due to intensifying protests outside of the White House.
The National Guard is deployed to Minneapolis after a fourth night of protests. Uprisings are seen in major cities across the country, including Washington D.C. Police officers respond by violently lashing out on protesters, reporters and even people just sitting at home.
In Minneapolis, the National Guard is seen firing paint canisters at people standing on their porch.
In New York City, video circulates of the NYPD driving a cruiser into a crowd of protesters.
Reporters continue to be terrorized by law enforcement as well.
Videos circulate across social media showing frustration growing among black protesters as white agitators co-opt peaceful protests and begin destroying property.
As the weekend progresses, protests, rallies and vigils are held in virtually every state within the country. Curfews are established nationwide with the National Guard being called into multiple states. On the fourth night of protests in Louisville, the National Guard fatally shoots a protester. Relatively peaceful protests in Boston end with violence and looting. Protests in Phoenix end with protestors being tear-gassed and arrested as a curfew goes into effect. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is chosen to lead the prosecution on the George Floyd case.
It’s been a week, y’all. A long, exhausting, heartbreaking week. Between the brutal death of the Floyd, the people uprising against injustice and the police’s overwhelmingly violent response to that uprising, it’s been an inspiring yet incredibly disheartening seven days. As we enter the next week, it remains to be seen if the other three officers involved in Floyd’s death will be arrested. With the National Guard being deployed and curfews being enacted nationwide, it appears the goal is to stop the protesting from continuing into this week.
Needless to say, It’s a wild time, folks. Please stay safe out there.