Riots break out over George Floyd's death after being killed by white copby Zoe Drewett
Thousands of protesters joined massive riots in the streets to demand justice for George Floyd after he was killed while being arrested by a white police officer.
Horrifying video showed an unarmed Floyd lying face down in the street, gasping for air and pleading ‘I can’t breathe’ while the officer knelt on his neck for several minutes.
Four police officers were sacked following Floyd’s death, a short time after the brutal arrest in Minneapolis on Monday.
Hours after the dismissals were announced, protesters filled the streets around the scene of the killing to take part in a peaceful rally. Many in the crowd wore facial coverings to protect against spread of the coronavirus.
But the gathering took an unruly turn as police in riot gear fired tear gas and non-lethal bean-bag rounds into the crowds while protesters hurled water bottles, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Local news footage showed some demonstrators vandalizing the outside of a police precinct station and a squad car. The unrest appeared to have dissipated after dark as rain fell.
Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo earlier confirmed that Floyd’s death is under investigation by the FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
Mayor Jacob Frey said at the same news briefing that regardless of the investigation’s outcome, it was clear that Floyd’s death while in custody was unjustified, and that race was a factor.
He told reporters: ‘Being black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes we watched as a white police officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man. For five minutes.
‘When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help.’
The mayor later announced the termination of the four officers on Twitter, saying: ‘This is the right call.’
Civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump, representing Floyd’s relatives, has said he will ‘seek justice for the family’ and added that he is demanding answers from police.
The case was eerily reminiscent of the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, an unarmed black man in New York City, who died after being put in a police chokehold and telling the officers, ‘I can’t breathe.’
The officers involved in Monday’s encounter were responding to a report of a forgery in progress, and found a man fitting the suspect’s description, Floyd, aged in his 40s, in a car, according to a police department account.
Police acknowledged that Floyd ‘appeared to be in medical distress’ as he was handcuffed.
Footage of the incident shows a white officer kneeling on his neck as he cries out in pain. He says: ‘I can’t breathe. Please, I need my neck, I can’t breathe, shit.’
The video, shot by Darnella Frazier, then shows one of the officers saying ‘Get up and get in the car.’ Floyd responds, saying: ‘I can’t…my neck, I’m through. My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.’
Witnesses told police to let him get up and an officer can be heard saying ‘this is why you don’t do drugs, kids’.
After four minutes, Floyd goes limp with the officer’s knee still on his neck.
An ambulance took the suspect to the hospital, where he died a short time later, police said.
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