Protests erupt across the world in response to police killing of George Floyd

First posted June 28, 2020 6:48pm EDT
Last updated March 10, 2022 5:10pm EST

All Associated Themes:

  • Foreign Policy
  • Identity
  • Legal Action
  • Professional Consequences
  • Protest Politics
  • Violence / Threats

External References

George Floyd: What happened in the final moments of his life, BBC News

George Floyd’s girlfriend who sobbed over his casket reveals they planned to open a restaurant called Convict Kitchen – and says her final words to him before he died was: ‘I love you,’ Daily Mail

Who was George Floyd? The ‘gentle giant’ who was trying to turn his life around, Sky News

What we know about Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao, two of the officers caught on tape in the death of George Floyd, Star Tribune

Officer charged in George Floyd’s death used fatal force before and had history of complaints, The Washington Post

Minneapolis struggled with police violence and adopted reforms. ‘And yet, George Floyd is still dead,’ The Washington Post

Minneapolis police officer involved in weekend shooting ID’d, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Minneapolis Man: Cop Who Kneeled on George Floyd ‘Tried to Kill Me’ in 2008, The Daily Beast

What to know about 4 officers charged in George Floyd’s death, ABC7 Los Angeles

What we know about two of the officers caught on tape in the death of George Floyd, Los Angeles Times

What we know about the officers involved in George Floyd’s death, Vox

The police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck has been involved in shootings and was the subject of 10 complaints, Insider

‘This is the right call’: Officers involved in fatal Minneapolis incident fired, mayor says, ABC5 Eyewitness News

Owner of Minneapolis grocery store says he told employee ‘call the police on the police’ as she witnessed George Floyd death, NBC News

The death of George Floyd: What video and other records show about his final minutes, The Washington Post

8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody, The New York Times

Officers Charged in George Floyd’s Death Not Likely to Present United Front, The New York Times

A Cop Kneeled on a Black Man’s Neck Until He Said He Couldn’t Breathe. He Died at the Hospital, VICE

Derek Chauvin, Minneapolis Cop Shown Kneeling on George Floyd’s Neck, Hires Philando Castile Shooter’s Lawyer, The Daily Beast

George Floyd’s death shows exactly what police should not do, The Washington Post

Minnesota Man Dies After Video Shows Cop Pressing Knee to His Neck for Nearly 8 Minutes, Reason

George Floyd death at hands of Minneapolis police was homicide, says updated medical examiner’s report, ABC

Independent Autopsy Says George Floyd’s Death Was a ‘Homicide’ Due to Asphyxiation, VICE

‘I Can’t Breathe’: 4 Minneapolis Officers Fired After Black Man Dies in Custody, The New York Times

Investigators Say Man Who Filmed Arbery’s Killing Was More Than a Witness, The New York Times

George Floyd Protests: A Timeline, The New York Times

The History Behind ‘When The Looting Starts, The Shooting Starts,’ NPR

Seeing his city on fire would ‘devastate’ George Floyd, girlfriend says, Star Tribune

As Trump Calls Protesters ‘Terrorists,’ Tear Gas Clears a Path for His Walk to a Church, The New York Times

60 minutes of mayhem: How aggressive politics and policing turned a peaceful protest into a violent confrontation, CNN

Episcopal bishop on President Trump: ‘Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,’ The Washington Post

Protests about police brutality are met with wave of police brutality across US, The Guardian

Thousands around the world protest George Floyd’s death in global display of solidarity, CNN

3 more Minneapolis officers charged in George Floyd death, Derek Chauvin charges elevated, NBC News

Judge rules there is enough evidence to try 3 suspects on murder charges in fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery, Chicago Tribune

Louisville police raid that killed Breonna Taylor fuels call to end ‘no knock’ warrants, ABC7 Eyewitness News

Fischer suspends no-knock warrants, Wave 3 News

These photos capture the stark contrast in police response to the George Floyd protests and the anti-lockdown protests, Vox

Civil liberties groups sue Trump, Barr for forcefully removing Lafayette Square protesters, The Washington Post

Minneapolis City Council Members Announce Intent To Defund, Dismantle MPD, CBS Minnesota

Why these protests are different, Vox

911 Call Fuels Debate About Store’s Role In Floyd’s Death, NPR

Trump threatens use of military force, Al-Jazeera

Merkel describes the fatal police operation against George Floyd as murder, AFP Berlin

Taoiseach says ‘world has watched in horror’ events following Floyd’s killing, RTE

Everything we know about the pregnant woman shot with less lethal round at Austin protest, KXAN News

New York police officers suspended for pushing 75-year-old to ground during protests, The Guardian

Marine Veteran Says He Was Seriously Injured After LAPD Fire Rubber Bullets at Him During George Floyd Protest, Newsweek

Stop killing black people’: Demonstration closes Union Avenue as protesters face off with counter-protesters, MPD, Commercial Appeal

Months After Louisville Police Kill Woman in Her Home, Governor Calls for Review, The New York Times

What We Know About the Shooting Death of Ahmaud Arbery, The New York Times

Minneapolis police precinct burns as George Floyd protests rage; CNN crew arrested, NBC NewsThree men indicted in death of Ahmaud Arbery, CNN

Derek Chauvin Verdict Brings a Rare Rebuke of Police Misconduct, The New York Times

Why It’s So Rare For Police Officers To Face Legal Consequences, FiveThirtyEight

Ex-Minneapolis policeman Chauvin asks judge for new trial, Reuters

Justice Dept. charges ex-Minneapolis police officers with violating George Floyd’s civil rights, The Washington Post

Former Minneapolis officers found guilty of violating George Floyd’s civil rights, The Washington Post

Three Minneapolis ex-police officers guilty of violating George Floyd’s rights, Reuters

Three Ex-Cops Convicted in George Floyd Civil-Rights Trial, National Review

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds while Floyd was lying facedown and handcuffed in the street. Chauvin was aided in restraining Floyd by two fellow officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane, while a fourth officer, Tou Thao, prevented onlookers from intervening, ABC News reports. 

Floyd, who was being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a nearby food market, begged for his life while officers applied their full weight on his neck, torso, and legs, yelling out, “I can’t breathe!” numerous times. After about five minutes, Floyd lay motionless and unresponsive; he had no pulse. Meanwhile, onlookers continued pleading with officers to release pressure on Floyd’s body. Despite his condition, officers made no attempt to relieve or revive Floyd, and Chauvin’s knee remained on his neck as emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.

Key Players

George P. Floyd was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and raised in Houston, Texas. In 2014, after his release from prison for a crime committed in 2007, Floyd moved to Minneapolis, where he worked as a bouncer until the coronavirus pandemic left him unemployed. In an interview with the Daily Mail, Courteney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend of three years, said Floyd “wanted to escape the criminal environment he was in, and after he was released from prison he made the move to Minneapolis to start fresh.” Together, Floyd and Ross planned to open a restaurant and hire ex-convicts to give them the second chance he felt he had been given. “He even had a name picked out: Convict Kitchen,” Ross told the Daily Mail. Floyd, or “Big Floyd” as he was known to loved ones, is remembered as a gentle giant, Sky News reports. He is survived by Ross and his 6-year-old daughter, Gianna Floyd, who lives in Houston with her mother, Roxie Washington. 

Derek M. Chauvin, the former officer charged with killing Floyd, first joined the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) in 2001, according to the Star Tribune. Department records and news accounts show that Chauvin had 17 complaints against him at the time of his confrontation with Floyd, according to ABC7 Los Angeles. Chauvin had also been involved in three police-involved shootings during his 19-year career, one of which resulted in the death of 46-year-old Wayne Reyes, as per The Washington Post. A 2008 article from the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Chauvin shot and wounded then-22-year-old Ira Latrell Toles during a response to a domestic disturbance call. When Chauvin arrived, according to The Post, Toles reportedly locked himself in a bathroom. Chauvin forced his way in and shot Toles twice in the abdomen, claiming later that Toles reached for Chauvin’s firearm. Toles survived the shooting and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge, saying he struggled against Chauvin in self-defense: “He tried to kill me in that bathroom,” Toles told The Daily Beast

Tou Thao is a former officer who joined the MPD in 2012. Thao has also had several complaints filed against him. In 2014, a suspect claimed he handcuffed him without cause, threw him to the ground, and kicked, punched, and kneed him. The man, Lamar Ferguson, was brought to the hospital, where he received medical treatment for broken teeth, bruising, and trauma, before Thao and fellow officer Robert Thunder escorted Ferguson to jail in only his T-shirt and underwear, according to Vox. An excessive force lawsuit brought against Thao regarding the incident was settled out of court for $25,000 in 2017, Insider reports. Thao had five additional complaints brought against him during his Minneapolis police career. 

J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane were licensed as police officers in August 2019, according to ABC7 Eyewitness News. Neither officer had any prior complaints against him on the record. Both Kueng and Lane were serving their first week on duty as Minneapolis police officers at the time of Floyd’s death. 

Further Details

Events leading up to Floyd’s arrest

On the evening of Memorial Day, May 25, 2020, Floyd purchased cigarettes at Cup Foods, a corner store in the Powderhorn Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, The Post reports. The store’s owner, Mike Abumayyaleh, described Floyd to NBC News as a regular at Cup Foods, with whom he had “never had an issue … in the past.” 

However, Abumayyaleh was not at work that day. Instead, a 17-year-old newly hired clerk was working when Floyd reportedly came into the store with a man and a woman. When Floyd attempted to use what the employee suspected to be a counterfeit $20 bill, the employee intercepted it and returned it to Floyd, who then left the store. Floyd returned roughly 10 minutes later and used another $20 bill to purchase cigarettes, leaving the store again shortly thereafter. Not until after Floyd’s second departure did the employee begin to suspect that the bill was counterfeit. 

NPR’s Adrian Florido reports from South Minneapolis that local community members informed him of Cup Foods’ positive reputation for defusing situations without involving police, and that clerks are taught to inform a supervisor when they suspect the use of counterfeit money. “We deal with it directly,” Abumayyaleh explained, adding that employees are trained  to call police only when violence is involved. 

Following this practice, two Cup Foods employees left the store just before 8 p.m. and approached Floyd — who was sitting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle parked across the street — demanding that he return the items he had purchased, according to The Post. When Floyd refused, an employee called the police, telling the operator that Floyd appeared to be “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself.”

At 8:08 p.m., officers Kueng and Lane arrived at Cup Foods before approaching Floyd’s SUV. Lane drew his firearm and demanded that Floyd place his hands on the steering wheel. The New York Times reports that Floyd complied, at which point Lane holstered his weapon. A brief struggle ensued, and Floyd was removed from his vehicle and subsequently handcuffed. At 8:12 p.m., Kueng walked Floyd to a seated position against the wall of a nearby storefront. According to criminal complaints filed against the officers by state prosecutors, Floyd was calm and said, “Thank you, man” as he sat down. 

The arrest and death of George Floyd

At 8:13 p.m. Kueng and Lane told Floyd he was under arrest and walked him to their police cruiser, which was parked across the street outside Cup Foods. Floyd fell to the ground in front of the vehicle, where officers picked him up and placed him against the door of the car. Floyd told officers that he was not resisting, but that he was claustrophobic and did not want to sit in the car. 

At 8:17 p.m., officers Chauvin and Thao arrived, and Chauvin assumed command of the situation. Security footage from 8:18 p.m. shows Kueng struggling to force Floyd into the vehicle while Thao watches. At 8:19 p.m., Chauvin opened the rear passenger door and pulled Floyd across the backseat and out of the vehicle. Still handcuffed, Floyd fell to the ground and lay face down with his cheek against the pavement. It was here that officers started applying pressure to his neck, chest, and legs. The Post reports that Floyd had stopped moving but was still conscious at 8:20 p.m.

By this point, onlookers had begun to film the interaction, according to The Times. One witness filmed from across the street until one of the officers ordered him to leave. Livestream footage from just outside Cup Foods, captured by eyewitness Darnella Frazier, shows three officers restraining Floyd at once, with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Thus encumbered, Floyd began crying out: “I can’t breathe,” “Please,” “Mama,” and “They gon’ kill me,” VICE reports. Roughly five minutes into the ordeal, Floyd can be heard saying, “I’m about to die,” after which Chauvin reportedly told him to “relax,” according to the Daily Beast

Officers dismissed onlookers’ pleas to pick Floyd up from the ground, according to CBS News. As the situation unfolded, a Cup Foods employee reportedly called Abumayyaleh “crying, telling [him], ‘Mike, Mike. What should I do? The guy can’t breathe. They’re killing him,’” NBC News reported.

“‘Call the police on the police. And make sure it’s recorded,” Abumayyaleh recalled telling the employee. “And she did that.”

When an ambulance was called at 8:22 p.m., Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as he cried, “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts.” Floyd then began to beg for his life.

“[You are] enjoying that,” one onlooker can be heard saying in Frazier’s video. “[You’re] a bum, bro. You could have put him in the car by now. He’s not resisting arrest or nothing. You’re enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language — you bum. You know that’s bogus right now.” 

According to The Post, as Floyd continued to plead with the officers and cry for help, Thao, standing guard at the scene, said to witnesses: “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.” 

By 8:25 p.m., Floyd was unconscious. Witnesses reportedly began to confront the officers, at which point Chauvin pulled out mace and Thao positioned himself between the onlookers and Chauvin, Reason reports. Kueng attempted to find Floyd’s pulse, to no avail. According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, Lane twice asked Chauvin if Floyd should be placed on his side, but Chauvin declined.

Medical response efforts, death, and autopsy

At 8:27 p.m., a Hennepin County ambulance arrived, and medical examiners checked an unresponsive Floyd for a pulse. Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd’s neck for nearly a minute after the ambulance arrived. By the time Chauvin lifted his knee from Floyd’s neck, it had been there for eight minutes and 46 seconds. At 8:29 p.m., Floyd was loaded into the ambulance bound for Hennepin County Medical Center, according to The Post

En route, the ambulance requested assistance from the Minneapolis Fire Department. Around 8:37 p.m., firefighters reached the ambulance, where Floyd had reportedly entered cardiac arrest and was found unresponsive and without a pulse. 

At 9:25 p.m., George Floyd was pronounced dead in the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room. 

A Hennepin County medical examiner’s final findings from Floyd’s autopsy, issued June 1, classified Floyd’s death as a homicide caused by “a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained” and “neck compression.” Other significant conditions found included arteriosclerotic heart disease, hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication, and recent methamphetamine use, according to ABC. The report also noted that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19 on April 3, 2020, but was likely asymptomatic at the time of his death. 

Floyd’s family commissioned a second independent autopsy, performed by Michael Baden, a pathologist and former New York City chief medical examiner who had performed an autopsy of Eric Garner, another victim of harsh police treatment in New York, and Allecia Wilson, director of autopsy and forensic services at the University of Michigan Medical School. VICE reported that the independent autopsy identified “asphyxiation and sustained pressure to the back of [the] neck” as the cause of death. This finding goes directly against the results shared by Minneapolis officials, who cited underlying conditions as part of “multiple factors” leading to Floyd’s death.


Protests erupt in Twin Cities, sparking international movement

On May 26, 2020, the area surrounding the spot at which Floyd was killed quickly became a makeshift memorial site, and eventually ground zero for protests against police brutality. Hours after Floyd’s death, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo fired all four officers involved in Floyd’s death and called for the FBI to investigate the discrepancies between the official Minneapolis police statement and Frazier’s video of the incident.

Protests continued into the night, with numbers reaching into the hundreds. What began as largely peaceful demonstrations took on riotous dimensions as vandals and looters — claimed by many to be opportunistic, outside agitators — began damaging vehicles and business storefronts. 

By the next day, the shockwave sparked by Floyd’s death had spread across the United States. 

Throughout the nation, including in cities such as Memphis, New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., protests were galvanized by additional calls for justice for other victims of police violence. These calls focused particularly on Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed in March 2020 by police during a raid in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was jogging when he was hunted down and shot in February 2020 by armed white residents of a neighborhood in Brunswick, Georgia. In both cases, no action was taken until pressure from both local and national activists continued for months after the incidents and gained national attention, The Times reported. 

On May 28, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz activated the National Guard, but declined the Army’s offer to deploy military police units to quell acts of arson and vandalism that had, by then, erupted amidst the peaceful protests. That same night, shortly after demonstrators forcibly entered the MPD’s 3rd Precinct (where the four officers involved in killing Floyd formerly worked), Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered police to stand down and evacuate the building. Hours later, the building was totally engulfed in flames, NBC reports. 

Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, reportedly told the Star Tribune that “waking up this morning to see Minneapolis on fire would be something that would devastate Floyd. He loved the city. He came here [from Houston] and stayed here for the people and the opportunities. … Floyd was a gentle giant. He was about love and about peace.”

Anti-police brutality protests met with police brutality

The following day, President Donald Trump threatened protesters with the use of military force, called for “the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, [to] get his act together,” and referred to protesters as “thugs” in a tweet, saying, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” This particular word choice harks back to Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who used the phrase in response to a crime outbreak in 1967. Headley “had a long history of bigotry against the black community,” according to NPR. The president’s tweets prompted Twitter to attach a note saying that the tweets “glorify violence,” the first move of its kind for the social media giant, which was already under fire from Trump for flagging tweets containing false information.

The Times reports that demonstrations continued to develop on May 29 in major U.S. cities such as Atlanta and New York, where police, armed with rubber bullets and tear gas, clashed with thousands of protesters, who stayed on the streets into the night. In D.C., a large crowd gathered in protest outside the White House, while the president hunkered down in a bunker primarily used for terrorist attacks.

On May 30, after four nights of turmoil, Frey called on protesters to stay at home before installing an 8 p.m. curfew. “We are now confronting white supremacists, members of organized crime, out-of-state instigators, and possibly even foreign actors to destroy and destabilize our city and our region,” he said, according to The Times

On June 1, in a speech delivered from the White House Rose Garden, Trump denounced protesters as “terrorists” and threatened to invoke the use of military force if U.S. governors could not control what was happening in their states, Al-Jazeera reported. “If a city or a state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents,” Trump said, “then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” 

As Trump began his speech, police and military used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse peaceful crowds that had gathered outside Lafayette Square, a small park that sits just across from the White House. It was later discovered that the order to clear the square had come from Attorney General Willam Barr, so that the president could have a clear passage to a scheduled photo-op with a church leader in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, located across the street. 

“I’ve seen this kind of violence,” said Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst responsible for monitoring unrest developments in China and Southeast Asia. “This is what autocrats do. This is what happens in countries before a collapse. It really does unnerve me.” CNN reported that officers’ pre-curfew advance on the protesters was “swift and sudden.” 

Mariann Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington, was infuriated by the incident, sharing with The Post that neither she nor anyone involved with the church was invited to or informed of the president’s visit. “Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,” Budde said of the president. “We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.”

On June 4, the American Civil Liberties Union and Black Lives Matter named Trump and Barr as defendants in a federal lawsuit accusing the president and his administration of an “unprovoked and frankly criminal attack” on peaceful protesters gathered in Lafayette Square, 30 minutes prior to when a citywide curfew was to take effect. The groups claim that the use of horses, batons, and riot gear — including pepper spray, smoke canisters, and rubber projectiles — by U.S. military and police violated protesters’ First Amendment rights, according to The Post

The attack on peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square is largely in line with the police response to protests against police brutality across all 50 states, many of which have been met with the same violence against which demonstrators are gathered. “From Minnesota to New York, Texas, California, Washington DC and many places beyond, from small towns to big cities,” Adam Gabbatt of The Guardian reports, “police officers have demonstrated just how problematic law enforcement is in the US, drawing condemnation from international groups as well as domestic civil rights organizations.” 

In Brooklyn, NY, police drove an SUV into a crowd of protesters. In Austin, Texas, a pregnant woman was shot in the belly with a rubber bullet, along with two other protesters who sustained severe injuries, according to NBC. In Buffalo, New York, police officers shoved a 75-year old man to the ground, where he began to bleed from the head, The Guardian reported. After video footage of the Buffalo incident emerged, the officers were suspended without pay. On June 16, CNN reported that the man, Martin Gugino of Amherst, Massachusetts, suffered a fractured skull and lost mobility in his legs as a result of his run-in with Buffalo police. Following the officers’ suspension, all remaining 57 members of the tactical response team stepped down from their positions in protest, according to NBC News

In Minneapolis, footage showed an officer yelling, “Light ’em up!” before police fired paint canisters at residents sitting on the porch of their home. In Los Angeles, a military veteran sustained injuries after being shot with rubber bullets in the head, hip, legs, stomach, and ribs, despite having his hands up. 

Prior to the Floyd protests, civil unrest was already in focus in the United States in the form of anti-lockdown protests during the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 28, 2020, hundreds of Michigan residents, many of them armed with assault rifles, gathered outside the state capitol in Lansing to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus restrictions. Georgetown Law professor Paul Butler, author of Chokehold: Policing Black Men, spoke to Vox about a stark contrast between police responses to each protest: “Unarmed people, many of whom are people of color, protest police brutality and are met with police brutality — flash grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets. But when armed, mainly white protesters storm the Michigan state capitol, the police just let them be.”

An extended list of incidents involving police brutality amid the Floyd protests can be found here.


Protests attract international attention 

The strength and endurance of police-brutality protests in the United States attracted international attention, sparking largely peaceful Black Lives Matter movements worldwide, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Syria, Brazil, Mexico, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, Iran, Poland, and Australia, CNN reported. International leaders, too, have spoken out against the killing of George Floyd: German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Floyd’s death “very, very terrible,” and Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar pointed to “an absence of moral leadership” in the United States.

Protesters, hoping to see long-term changes, see first signs of progress

The growth from protests in Minneapolis over the death of George Floyd to an international movement against police brutality has put pressure on governments and police departments to enact reform and hold officers accountable for actions taken while on duty. 

On May 29, 2020, after four consecutive days of protests, Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. By June 3, he faced a new, elevated charge of second-degree murder. The three other officers involved in Floyd’s death were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting murder, NBC News reported. Descriptions of the various charges can be found here. All four men face a maximum of 40 years in prison.

The deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery have also resulted in arrests and policy changes. 

On March 13, 2020, Taylor and her boyfriend were asleep in their home when three plainclothes police officers burst through the door, ABC 7 Eyewitness News reports. Gunfire erupted, killing 26-year-old Taylor. Taylor’s death has led to discussions about how “no-knock” warrants, which allow police to enter homes unannounced, should be used by police. On May 29, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the indefinite suspension of such warrants, though civil rights leaders are calling for a permanent ban, according to Wave 3 News. At this writing, Oregon and Florida were the only states with such bans. On June 23, Louisville Police Chief Robert J. Schroeder sent a termination letter to Detective Brett Hankinson, one of the three officers responsible for Taylor’s death. In it, Schroeder wrote that he found Hankinson’s conduct “a shock to the conscience,” according to NBC News. As of June 23, the two other officers involved had been placed on administrative leave; none of the three had been arrested or charged with a crime. 

In May 2020, The Post reported that the Brunswick County District Attorney’s Office advised the Glynn County Police Department to make no arrests following Arbery’s death on Feb. 23, 2020. On May 7, nearly three months after a viral video showed that suspects had pursued Arbery in two pickup trucks and attempted to block him off before fatally shooting him through the chest with a shotgun, Greg McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, as well as William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., were arrested by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and charged with shooting Arbery. In a preliminary hearing on June 4, 2020, GBI Special Agent Richard Dial testified that Bryan told police Travis McMichael cursed Arbery as a “f—ing n—-r” after shooting him. 

On June 24, a district attorney announced that a Glynn County grand jury had indicted all three men on malice and felony murder charges in connection with Arbery’s death, according to CNN. The charges also include aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, according to the indictment.

Lacking confidence in further police reforms to create systemic change, protesters have adopted a more drastic notion: “defunding” the police by cutting budgets and directing funds to community programs and municipal work, NBC reported. 

On June 7, 2020, 13 days after the killing of George Floyd, nine out of 13 Minneapolis City Council members stood on stage at a protest in Powderhorn Park, the neighborhood where Floyd was killed, to announce their intent to disband the city’s police department. CBS Minnesota reported that the council intends to redirect MPD funds to youth programs, mental health services, and addiction treatment, and adopt a new approach to public safety. “Police [is] not the right response for a myriad of issues: mental health crises, domestic violence calls, opioid overdoses,” said Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham. As the city prepared to revise its budget, the City Council said it would discuss steps to restructure public safety responses over time.

Still, protesters and activists became jaded by what they saw as political stunts and ineffective reforms. As Vox writer Sean Collins put it in “Why these protests are different”:

At the core of this rage is a legitimate fear for black Americans: the sense that they can be killed anywhere at any time by anyone, but especially by law enforcement. It is a feeling black Americans have carried for all of America’s history. And the fact that the feeling has persisted for so long, that it has passed through so many iterations — the casual and common brutality of slavery, the lynching terrorism that followed, the assassinations of the civil rights era, the police killings of today — has created a feeling of futility. That no effort, no matter how herculean — not marching a million people through the nation’s capital, not placing a black man at the head of government — will be enough.

This sort of frustration can only build so long before it becomes anger. And it has.

Collins noted that “the breadth and weight of what they’re fighting for” is an explanation for why demonstrations did not subside quickly. The diversity of protesters’ socioeconomic backgrounds, he said, mean that the legacies of slavery, systemic racism, and police brutality do not just affect Black people, though they unfairly bear the weight of it. The outbreak of protests in many small U.S. municipalities, Collins wrote, reflect the larger idea that  “there is something very wrong with American society, all of it, everywhere, and that people across the nation want something new.”

Chauvin convicted of murder

On April 20, 2021, just a month before the first anniversary of Floyd’s death, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges against him. For many citizens and civil rights leaders, the verdict marked a momentous — if incomplete — step toward greater racial justice in the United States. Aside from its social implications, the verdict also represented a rare instance in which a police officer was charged and convicted for using excessive force against a civilian, according to The New York Times.

After the verdict, the judge overseeing the case remanded Chauvin, pending his sentencing; the heftiest charge against the former MPD officer, second-degree murder, carries a maximum prison sentence of 40 years, The Times reported

Two weeks after the jury reached its verdict, Chauvin requested a new trial. Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, claimed the original trial was unfair, accusing the jury, judge, and prosecutor of misconduct. Nelson also argued the court failed to  sequester the jury effectively during proceedings, subjecting jurors to undue public pressure and undermining the trial’s fairness, according to Reuters.  

On May 7, 2021, a federal grand jury charged Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest with violating Floyd’s civil rights, according to The Washington Post
This is a developing story.

Appeals court considers adding charges to case involving three ex-officers

On May 20, 2021, the Minnesota Court of Appeals heard oral arguments on whether Lane, Keung, and Thao should face an additional count of aiding and abetting a third-degree murder, as advocated by prosecutors, the Huffington Post reported.

Defense attorneys contended that while third-degree murder is an unintentional act, aiding and abetting is inherently intentional, and therefore an inappropriate charge in this case. 

Three former Minneapolis police officers convicted of federal civil rights violations

On Feb. 24, 2022, Kueng, Lane, and Thao were convicted of violating Floyd’s civil rights by a federal jury, The Post reported. Prosecutors argued that they knew Floyd was in medical danger, but their “discomfort in questioning a colleague” undermined their duties to care for people in custody. 

According to Reuters, the jury also found that the officers’ conduct caused Floyd’s death, an uncommon finding given that police officers are rarely held criminally responsible for a colleague’s use of excessive force. This finding could affect the severity of their sentence. 

Additionally, Thao and Kueng were convicted of denying Floyd’s Fourth Amendment rights by failing to stop Chauvin from kneeling on Floyd’s neck, National Review reported. 

U.S. District Judge Paul A. Magnuson for the District of Minnesota, nominated by former President Ronald Reagan, presided over the case. He did not order the officers to be taken into custody, as they still faced state charges of aiding and abetting Chauvin’s murder and manslaughter of Floyd, a trial scheduled for June 2022. 

While sentencing was not immediately announced, many hailed the jury’s decision as a victory. Ben Crump, the civil rights attorney representing Floyd’s family, stated it was “another important chapter in our journey for justice” for Floyd.

“These officers tried to devise any excuse that could let them wash the blood from their hands, but following these verdicts, George’s blood will forever stain them,” Crump said. “Today’s guilty verdicts should serve as the guiding example of why police departments across America should expand and prioritize instruction on an officer’s duty to intervene and recognize when a fellow officer is using excessive force.”

After the verdict, Brandon Williams, Floyd’s nephew, said the jury’s decision was “”historic for our country, because oftentimes officers kill Black and brown men and women, and we get little to no consequences. A lot of times we don’t even get charges, let alone convictions.”

Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told reporters “I feel like I can breathe again,” but added “This is just accountability. It can never mean justice because I can never get George back.”