I Can’t Breathe
On Tuesday night, the all-too-familiar chant of “I can’t breathe” rang out in the streets of Minneapolis, Minnesota, as protestors gathered in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd. The 47-year-old black man died Monday after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, handcuffed him, pushed him to the ground and knelt on his neck for several minutes. In a video of the incident, filmed by a bystander, Floyd can be heard saying repeatedly, “I can’t breathe” — a chilling echo of the death of Eric Garner — while other onlookers plead with the officer to let up. Floyd was reportedly detained for allegedly trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. He was unarmed.
Officials did act swiftly after Floyd’s death and the spread of the video online: Chauvin and three other police officers were fired, the FBI launched a civil rights investigation and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also launched an investigation of its own. Still, thousands of peaceful protestors gathered Tuesday, marching peacefully from the site of Floyd’s death to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct, demanding the officers involved face criminal charges. Outside the Third Precinct, however, tensions quickly escalated. Per the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, some protestors broke the glass door of the station and vandalized the building and patrol vehicles; the police began firing rubber bullets, flash-bang devices and chemical irritants believed to be tear gas into the crowd.
“Let’s be clear: This is murder,” community activist John Thompson told the Star-Tribune. “I don’t want to be labeled the angry black man — I should be able to have that emotion. I’m angry. Wouldn’t you be?”