May 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Minnesota activates National Guard amid fallout from George Floyd death

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis.

A portrait of George Floyd hangs on a street light pole in Minneapolis. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

George Floyd, 46, moved to Minnesota to improve his life and become his "best self," but instead, he is dead because of Minneapolis police.

The latest: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz declared a state of emergency and activated the state's National Guard in response to violent clashes over the past two days between police and protesters in the Twin Cities.

What they're saying: "They executed my brother in broad daylight," George Floyd's brother Philonise told CNN on Thursday. "I'm tired of seeing black men die."

Why it matters: "It's both necessary, and at this point, pedestrian to observe that policing in this country is mediated by race," Jelani Cobb writes for The New Yorker.

The tale of the tapes:

  • The Minneapolis police didn't tell the truth in their initial press release, claiming Floyd, a black man, resisted arrest. They also omitted that an officer pinned him to the ground by the neck. (He was originally stopped for a nonviolent offense.)
  • Two subsequent tapes put an end to those lies. Floyd could be heard on one video saying that his neck hurt and that he couldn't breathe: "They're going to kill me."
  • The police then treated protesters like insurgents instead of citizens, using flashbangs, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse protests — which became riots.
  • Those riots destroyed property and resulted in another death, but at the beginning of that story is the murder of a black man by police officers.
  • "I've wrestled with, more than anything else over the last 36 hours," said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, "Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?"

The big picture: Floyd is one of far too many black men who die every year at the hands of police officers.

  • The only reliable statistics that exist are because of years of hard work by activists and reporters, not police departments.
  • And those are just the statistics of killings, leaving out the incidents that don't end in death but nevertheless destroy relations and leave individuals with mental and physical scars.
  • The cops who are fired for bad behavior are often rehired because of their unions or move to other police departments in other towns. Few are prosecuted, frustrating activists and victims alike.

What's next: The Justice Department said Thursday that the case is a "top priority," and President Trump wants "justice to be served," White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said this afternoon.

  • The four Minneapolis officers — Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng — have been fired.
  • "I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that's exactly what they did," his sister Bridgett Floyd told the "Today" show.

The bottom line: Floyd, who worked security at a restaurant, "was loved by all my employees and my customers," owner Jovanni Thunstrom told CNN.

  • "He was my friend."
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