George Floyd: How protests spread across the US and overseas

4 June 2020, 15:15

George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck
George Floyd died after a white police officer knelt on his neck. Picture: Social media

By Megan White

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has sparked protests across the globe. But who was he and what has happened since his death on May 25?

Who was George Floyd?

George Floyd was a 46-year-old father who lived in Minneapolis.

He worked as a security guard at Latin American restaurant Conga Latin Bistro, but lost his job amid the coronavirus pandemic.

How did he die?

Mr Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer held him down by pressing a knee into his neck.

An autopsy concluded that that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.

Why was he arrested?

Officers were called to a grocery store by a member of staff who claimed Mr Floyd had attempted to pay with a forged $20 note.

Police alleged he “resisted officers,” but a video of his arrest shows him saying “I can’t breathe” while officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.

Who has been charged over his death?

Derek Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder, but this was later elevated to second-degree.

The other three officers - Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao - face counts of aiding and abetting murder.

When did the protests start?

US

The day after Mr Floyd’s death, thousands took to the streets of Minneapolis to protest his death and called for the officers involved to be fired, which they were.

On May 27, protests broke out in cities including Los Angeles and Memphis, with a second night of action in Minneapolis marred by looting.

By May 28, there were protests in other cities, including in Louisville, Kentucky, where demonstrators protested the murder of Breonna Taylor by police in March.

That day, the National Guard was mobilised in Minnesota after vandalism and fires broke out.

On May 29, President Trump posted a tweet in which he suggested the military could used armed force to suppress rioting, adding: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Protests outside the White House that evening caused security forces to place the building on lockdown, with Mr Trump allegedly moving to an underground bunker for safety.

On May 31, the National Guard was deployed to more than half of US states to assist with controlling the protests, and dozens of mayors implemented or extended curfews.

At least six people were killed in violence in Indianapolis and Chicago.

UK

The first protest in London took place on Sunday, with demonstrators gathering peacefully in Trafalgar Square.

On Wednesday, thousands of people congregated in Hyde Park before marching to Parliament Square and Downing Street.

Star Wars actor John Boyega made a passionate speech to those gathered, with protestors chanting "no justice, no peace" as they took part.

Protests are also planned in Birmingham, Portsmouth, Reading, Bristol, Manchester and many other major cities across the UK.

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