The death of an African American man in police custody in Minneapolis has sparked outrage that has erupted in violence, including widespread looting, destruction of private property, and conflicts between rioters and law enforcement, who have felt compelled to use tear gas and rubber bullets in attempts to disperse rioting crowds.
One of the most influential voices in the escalating situation is Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who was quick to condemn the actions of the officer shown kneeling on George Floyd’s neck in a viral video Monday. The Mayor is now calling for charges against the officer. But Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has responded by stressing that it is “critical” that we first trust in the investigative process.
Disturbing video of Floyd’s arrest posted on social media Monday shows one officer, who is white, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd warns that he “can’t breathe” and says “my stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.” Video shows that the officer does not move from the kneeling position for at least eight minutes. Eventually, Floyd stops moving.
After forcefully condemning the officer’s actions Monday, Mayor Frey escalated his rhetoric Wednesday. “I’ve wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours, one fundamental question: Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?” said Frey, as reported by The Associated Press.
The comment follows Frey’s impassioned statement on Monday. “For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes,” said the mayor. “When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense … Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth: he should still be with us this morning. I believe what I saw and what I saw is wrong on every level.”
When he first announced that the four officers involved in the arrest had been fired, Frey tweeted, “This is the right call.”
In response to the mayor’s call for charges against the officer, Attorney General Ellison said that while he appreciates the importance of Frey “channel[ing] the emotion of the people,” we must allow the investigative process to carry out.
“I understand the emotions are running high, and I think it’s important for the mayor to channel the emotion of the people who he represents,” said Ellison, AP reports. “But I think it is critical that we adhere very closely to the facts and the law and the normal process.”
The office that would prosecute the officer involved in the arrest, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, has also issued a statement, vowing to give the case “the best we can give” and stating that the incident has “outraged us and people across the country.”
The Star Tribune reports that much of the violence that erupted Wednesday night occurred outside Minneapolis’ third precinct police headquarters, where rioters were “throwing objects at the building and officers and turning more violent as the night wore on.”
“The AutoZone Auto Parts store across from the Third Precinct was set afire. As some protesters tried to extinguish the fire, others danced gleefully in front of the flames and smoke, snapping selfies,” outlet reported. “At the nearby Lake Street Target store, looters were seen leaving with items ranging from large TVs to clothing to groceries. Looting also occurred at Minnehaha Lake Wine & Spirits, at Hiawatha and Lake, and at many other businesses in the area.”
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