Protestors in Minnesota received a far different reaction from law enforcement than the armed, white protestors did just a few weeks ago
Large crowds of protestors gathered yesterday at the site where George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by police earlier this week, was crushed while begging for his life. Thousands of people flooded the streets at that same intersection where Floyd was handcuffed and seemingly suffocated by a white police officer who was kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd later died as a result of his injuries sustained by the officer’s brutality.
Organizers emphasized keeping this protest peaceful. Chants of “I can’t breathe,” and “It could’ve been me” were heard, echoing the words Floyd uttered while begging for his life. The police brutality that resulted in George Floyd losing his life was filmed and shared on social media and shows him handcuffed on the ground, yelling for help, while the arresting officer, who has been identified as Derek Chauvin, forces his neck to the ground with his knee.
— Ryan Faircloth (@RyanFaircloth) May 26, 2020
“We’re here to let them know this can’t be tolerated, there will be severe consequences if they continue to kill us this will not go on another day,” one protestor said, according to WCCO 4.
Though the protest was intended to be a non-violent response to the current national epidemic of racist police officers brutally murdering Black men and women at an alarming rate, police responded by firing off rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash grenades at the crowd.
Eventually, the protest turned into a march towards the 3rd Precinct, where it is believed that the four officers involved in Floyd’s death — who have since been fired from their positions — worked. At one point, a small group of demonstrators started vandalizing the building, shattering a window and spray painting squad cars.
“It’s real ugly. The police have to understand that this is the climate they have created, this is the climate they created,” another protester said. Officers in riot gear started firing the tear gas and flash grenades and hitting people with rubber bullets.
In the video of Floyd’s arrest, he can be heard gasping, “Please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man, please,” and “I can’t move. Everything hurts. Give me some water or something, please. I can’t breathe, officer.” The video shows Chauvin holding his knee against the man’s neck for eight minutes.
It’s difficult not to compare the police response to the Minnesota protest last night to the armed militia protests all over the country just a few weeks ago. In many state capitals, armed white men stormed streets and government buildings with assault rifles strapped to their backs, screaming for the government to reopen local and national economies.
None of them faced the type of police response that the #BlackLivesMatter demonstrators had to face yesterday. Several people, like the woman photographed below, were dousing themselves and others with milk to fight the painful effect of tear gas fired by police.
It’s a stark reality, to say the least, about what constitutes a militant police reaction in the United States and what doesn’t.
Here are armed protestors in Michigan a few short weeks ago, who appear to be completely unbothered while exercising their “freedom” with assault rifles on-hand.
And here are images from last night’s demonstration.
And here are a few final photos from the melee. pic.twitter.com/6h5WHmZtqo
— Andy Mannix (@AndrewMannix) May 27, 2020
Many people on social media were apt to draw the same conclusion.
#1 Protest over the murder of George Floyd #2 Protest over some businesses being closed due to the pandemic. There seems to be a difference between the protestors in the two sets of photos and also how the police are responding, but I can't quite put my finger on it… pic.twitter.com/pwpQIVLKbA
— Cole Escola (@ColeEscola) May 27, 2020
— Eoin Higgins (@EoinHiggins_) May 27, 2020
Them murderous police officers started shooting at the peaceful protesters first pic.twitter.com/hGR5Ok0mxN— henna_see (@your1Dear) May 27, 2020
How police dealt with armed protestors in Michigan vs. how police dealt with people protesting the murder of #GeorgeFloyd
Make it make sense pic.twitter.com/kDpqPVeje3
— Tony Clements (@TonyClementsTC) May 27, 2020
Seems like most ppl are bailing. This guy wouldn't let me interview him, but he showed me two marking round hits. Those things hurt pic.twitter.com/c9UgIkJiSD
— Andy Mannix (@AndrewMannix) May 27, 2020
On Tuesday night, Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar condemned the police response, saying, “Shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at unarmed protesters when there are children present should never be tolerated. Ever. What is happening tonight in our city is shameful. Police need to exercise restraint, and our community needs space to heal.”