Socialist Worker

Protesters demand justice for George Floyd

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2707

George Floyd

George Floyd (Pic: Ben Crump Law)


Over a thousand furious people took to the streets of Minneapolis in Minnesota on Tuesday to demand justice over the violent police murder of George Floyd.

George was pinned to the ground by a cop and told the police, “Please, please, I can't breathe” and “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts”.

“They treated him worse than they treat animals,” said his brother, Philonise Floyd.

“They took a life—they deserve life.”

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A video circulating on social media shows cop Derek Chauvin crush George’s neck with his knees. He had been stopped by the police after they pulled his car over on Monday.

Protesters defied lockdown restrictions and occupied the intersection where George was killed.

They broke the glass front door of a police station and sprayed graffiti on cop cars. Some protesters climbed on top of the building while others threw bottles and rocks at police officers in riot gear.

Protester Anita Murray said, “It’s scary to come down here in the middle of the pandemic, but how could I stay away?”

Activists held signs declaring, “I can’t breathe,” and “Black Lives Matter” at the socially distanced protest.

They blocked streets and called for murder charges to be brought against the cops who were involved in George’s death.

Yet their actions were met with further violence from the police, who fired tear gas, causing one person to go to hospital.

Paraded

It’s a stark contrast to how police treated anti-lockdown protests earlier this month, where far right activists armed with assault rifles paraded through state capitals.

All four police officers have been sacked—but no charges have been brought against them.

George’s cousin, Tera Brown, said action by the state police department was “a good start”, but doesn’t go far enough.

“What they did was murder, and almost the whole world has witnessed that because someone was gracious enough to record it.”

Many people have drawn parallels between George’s death and the horrific murder of Eric Garner in New York in 2014.

Eric died after telling a police officer 11 times “I can’t breathe”.

And George’s death comes three months after two white men shot and killed an unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery.

Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were charged with Ahmaud’s murder on 8 May—just three days after a video of the shooting went viral online, but 74 days after the shooting.

Gregory McMichael, a former police officer, told investigators that he chased Ahmaud down the street because he suspected him in a string of recent burglaries.

George Floyd has become yet another name added to a long list of deaths at the hands of a racist US police force.

A study by Rutgers University shows that about 1 in 1,000 black men and boys in the US can expect to die at the hands of the police.

That makes them 2.5 times more like that white men and boys to die during an encounter with cops.

The protest this week shows there is underlying anger at racism in Donald Trump’s deeply divided US—and it shows that resistance can build, even during a pandemic.

Anti-racists should be part of every fight against this cruel racist system.


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