George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul
The George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul are an ongoing series of civil unrest which began on May 26, 2020, a day after Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer. The aftermath of Floyd's death has also been referred to as the Minneapolis riots and Minneapolis uprising, though notable events occurred throughout the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area and other locations in the U.S. state of Minnesota. Floyd's death in Minneapolis and local unrest inspired a global protest movement about racism and police brutality.
|George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul|
|Part of Black Lives Matter movement|
and George Floyd protests
Protesters marching in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020, the day after Floyd's death. A protester's sign reads, "Justice for George Floyd" and "#I CANT BREATHE".
|Date||May 26, 2020 – present (1 month, 1 week and 3 days)|
|Methods||Protests, demonstrations, civil disobedience, civil resistance, public art|
|Arrested||604 by local law enforcement|
10 by federal law enforcement
The vast majority of protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul were characterized as peaceful events. However, over a three-night period, from May 27 to May 30, Minneapolis sustained extraordinary damage, largely along a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch of Lake Street in an area south of the city's downtown. Neighboring Saint Paul was also affected by the riots and suffered damage to 246 buildings mostly along the city's University Avenue business corridor. Rioting and turmoil in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area resulted in one death, 614 arrests, and upwards of $500 million in property damage to 1,500 businesses, making local unrest the second-most destructive in United States history after the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died while being detained by police in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, shortly after 8:00 p.m. CDT, near the Cup Foods grocery store at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. In a video recorded by a bystander, police officer Derek Chauvin, a white man, knelt on Floyd's neck for approximately eight minutes, while officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao assisted with the arrest and held concerned onlookers back. In the city's Powderhorn Park neighborhood where Floyd was killed, some argued there was a persisting distrust between the police and black community. In 2015, the shooting of Jamar Clark, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer led to controversy; it was later determined that the officers had acted in self defense and no charges were filed. In 2016, the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, in nearby Falcon Heights ended with a jury acquittal for the involved officer. Some commentators blamed what they called a history of structural racism, lack of police accountability, state aggression against protest movements, and untenable social conditions in Minneapolis as contributing factors to the events that unfolded soon after Floyd's death.
The day after Floyd's deathEdit
Day 1: Tuesday, May 26Edit
By Tuesday, May 26, the day after Floyd's death, video of his arrest and death the previous night had been widely circulated in the media. At a morning press conference, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo expressed solidarity with the community's sense of anger over the incident. "The simple truth is that he should be with us this morning,” Frey said of Floyd. Arradondo added, “Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.”
The first organized protests emerged by midday. A makeshift memorial was created at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where the incident with Floyd and the Minneapolis police took place. Some protesters that gathered there chanted, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe", words repeated multiple times by Floyd in the video. As thousands of people flooded the same intersection, organizers emphasized keeping the protest peaceful.
By the middle of the afternoon, Arradondo had fired the city's four officers at the scene of Floyd's arrest and death, a moved supported by Frey. However, Floyd's family and protesters called for murder charges for all four officers involved and swift judicial consequences, as the FBI and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension opened investigations of the incident. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police officer's union, said the firing of the officers came without due process and offered "full support of the officers" while investigations be completed in full.
Just before dusk, the protest rally at the location of Floyd's death turned into a two-mile (3.2 km) march to the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct police station where the four officers involved were believed to work. At the station, protesters rallied peacefully with megaphones and signs on the steps at the building's entrance. Later in the evening, the main protest group disbanded, but a rowdier group broke away and began stray-painting graffiti on the precinct building and smashing windows of an empty police vehicle, as other protesters urged them to stop. Newly elected city council member Jeremiah Ellison, who had participated in prior protests against the police after the killing of black men, advised the mayor to leave those vandalizing the police property alone with hopes of sparing the neighborhood. Some demonstrators breached the station’s gated parking lot, and Arradondo ordered the police to move in with tear gas and rubber bullets to push them back, a move he later told reporters was because some officers kept weapons in their vehicles that could be taken. In response demonstrators threw rocks, water bottles, and anything they could get their hands on towards the officers. The unruly crowd clashing with the police was measured in the hundreds, and noted as a contrast from the peaceful group at the start of the protest. Many protesters viewed the police response as an overreaction that only made the crowd angrier.
The riots and uprisingEdit
Day 2: Wednesday, May 27Edit
Protests in Minneapolis resumed on Wednesday, May 27 at several places throughout the city. At the location where Floyd died, protesters were led through prayer and a series of chants. By late morning, a group of protesters blocked the nearby intersection as they repeated, “Whose streets? Our streets.” Some protesters left memorials by the Cub Foods store, while some spray painted the words “Justice for Floyd” and “Black Lives Matter” on the street surface. No police were present and the scene was described as peaceful.
The tone of protests shifted that afternoon when a crowd gathered in Minneapolis at the third precinct station two miles (3.2 km) from the spot were Floyd died. The protests were peaceful initially, but police later fired rubber bullets and chemical irritants as some protesters began breaking the precinct's windows. Some activists tried to stop people from vandalizing it further. As police advanced with force and tear gas, protesters scattered throughout the area. Later in the evening, an AutoZone store on East Lake Street was set on fire just steps away from the third police precinct station. The situation worsened when a nearby Target store was extensively looted by a crowd of about 100 people. Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson, who represented the area, blamed the police for the unfolding destruction, saying they were defending their station building like "the Alamo and letting the community burn". Council member Jeremiah Ellison said in a media interview that night that the police should "sacrifice" the station, while council member Linea Palmisano expressed privately that such a move would result in "ultimate chaos".
Violence continued overnight, as rioters ignited fires and looted stores across the city, which stood as a stark contrast to the mostly peaceful protests earlier that day. One mile (1.6 km) from the main protest site, Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot by a pawnshop owner who believed he was burglarizing his business. Dozens of buildings were looted or destroyed along the city's busy north and south side business corridors, with most incidents occurring in the vicinity of the third precinct station. Among the losses was Minnehaha Commons, an under-construction, $30 million redevelopment project for 189 units of affordable housing, which was destroyed by fire after being torched. The response from firefighters in the area was delayed as crews required police escorts for protection from rioters.
That night Frey reached out to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and request the help of the Minnesota National Guard, but the city seemed unaware of the timeline and logistics of troop deployment, and left it up to the police force to determine how best to coordinate tactics. However, knowing that it would take some time for the National Guard to mobilize, Frey and city leaders began discussing ways to deescalate the situation.
Day 3: Thursday, May 28Edit
By the morning, more than 30 businesses in Minneapolis had been damaged or destroyed by rioters. Arradondo remarked that in his view the majority of protests the previous day were peaceful, but that public displays were “hijacked” by some who were looting and vandalizing businesses. Minneapolis city officials hoped that the worst had already passed.
To quell rioting behavior, Frey declared a state of emergency to have more flexibility in the city's response. Frey and Arradondo also began quietly preparing for the contingency of surrendering the third precinct station in Minneapolis if violence escalated. Few people knew of the plan outside of some officers stationed there and nearby business owners that of heard rumors and noticed the station's parking lot being emptied.
Businesses across the Twin Cities spent the day boarding up windows and doors to prevent looting. Among them, the Target Corporation announced closures for all of its area stores. Saint Paul police officers armed with batons and gas masks kept an eye the city's busiest commercial corridor and kept looters out of a Target store while other business windows were smashed. Minneapolis preemptively shut down its light-rail system and bus service through Sunday out of safety concerns. Officials pleaded with metro area residents to stay home that night to prevent further property destruction. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, who is black, said, “Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again.”
That afternoon, state and federal prosecutors held a press conference at a regional FBI office in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, in what was anticipated to be a major development to the case against the officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death. However, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the local official with jurisdiction to bring forth criminal charges for police misconduct, said his office needed more time to investigate. In explaining the anticipation of the media briefing and its two-hour delayed start, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said, “I thought we would have another development to talk to you about, but we don’t”. Weeks later, on June 9, it was revealed that state and federal prosecutors were negotiating a plea deal with former officer Derek Chauvin that would have included state murder charges and federal civil rights charges, but the plea deal fell apart for reasons that were not fully explained.
At 4 p.m. CDT, Walz formally activated 500 National Guard troops at the request of leaders in Minneapolis and Saint Paul and deployed them to the Twin Cities area. Said Walz about the context of the troop deployment, "George Floyd's death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction." Added Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan, "While many Minnesotans are taking extensive safety precautions while exercising their right to protest, the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect people, to protect people safely demonstrating, and to protect small business owners." Walz also said it would take guard troops a few days to fully mobilize and that they would have little presence on Thursday.
Thousands of peaceful protesters again marched the streets and called for justice for George Floyd during the day. Hundreds of demonstrators in Minneapolis also returned to the area near city's the third precinct police station where Frey and Arradondo had deliberately reduced the street presence of the police. By the evening, police reports said the crowd was "engaged in peaceful activity" as some were said to be grilling, listening to music, and socializing. It was not until after dark the crowd grew more restless. Looting of a nearby Target store resumed and a vehicle and building were set on fire. The focus of demonstrators shifted to the third precinct police station, where they threw objects at officers who responded by firing rubber bullets. Looters broke into a liquor store across the street from the police station and passed out bottles to the crowd. By night fall, more buildings had been set on fire. Protesters eventually tore down fencing surrounding the precinct and police responded with tear gas. As tensions and fires in the area mounted, Frey gave the order to evacuate the third precinct station, a tactic he later said was to deescalate the situation and prevent further loss of life. The third precinct station was then overrun by protesters and the police station building itself set on fire. There were no police, fire, or emergency medical services presence in the area where the riots occurred after 10:00 p.m. CDT on May 28 as live television news broadcast scenes of escalating destruction. Surrounded by protesters, the building burned until the early morning hours of Friday when firefighting crews reached the area and eventually extinguished fires.
As the events unfolded late that night, Walz, who was surprised that the city had not given state officials details on what the National Guard should do, mobilized a few hundred soldiers and state patrols to Minneapolis, but the troops ended up largely escorted fire trucks and protected a Federal Reserve building and areas of downtown Minneapolis, as things spun out of control around the precinct. State officials later remarked that abandoning the precinct station was a misjudgment, allowing demonstrators to create a situation of “absolute chaos”, in the words of Walz.
In neighboring Saint Paul, which had been spared from widespread property destruction on Wednesday night, 170 businesses were damaged or looted and dozens of fires had been started, with the largest ones near Snelling and University avenues, but no major injuries were reported.
Day 4: Friday, May 29Edit
|Press conference with Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, May 29, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. CDT, C-SPAN|
Frey address the media at 1:30 a.m. CDT as the city was battling multiple fires and violence. Frey acknowledged the pain of the community over Floyd's death, but condemned the actions of rioters and looters. In defense of his decision Thursday night to have police withdraw from the third precinct station, he said, "Brick and mortar is not as important as life".
That afternoon, Walz imposed a curfew for the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul that would run from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. The order prohibited travel in streets or gathering at public places. Frey also issued a similar curfew in Minneapolis. The Target Corporation expanded its closure of stores to 73 in Minnesota due to the rioting.
In the late afternoon, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman charged Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck as he died, with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, but he left the matter ongoing about chargers for officers Lane, Kueng, and Thao who were at the scene of Floyd's death. Protesters, who had demanded immediate murder charges against all four officers, were disappointed after waiting four days since Floyd's death and made the criminal charges a big part of their message that day.
The de-escalation strategy of abandoning the third precinct station the previous night was said to have little affect on quelling unrest on Friday. Despite the announcement of the charges against the officers involved in Floyd's death and the new curfew, riots broke out again on Friday night and continued into early Saturday morning, with much of the action taking place adjacent to the Minneapolis police fifth precinct station near Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. Law enforcement presence was reportedly "undetectable", as violence in Minneapolis quickly grew until just before midnight, when police officers, state troopers, and members of the National Guard began confronting rioters with tear gas and mass force. Seventy-five fires were reported around the city from Friday night into Saturday.
Officials later said that the 350 police officers at the site of rioting near the Minneapolis fifth precinct station were vastly outnumbered by the crowds. Walz explained that the scope of the chaos, time it takes to mobilize guard troops, and mobile nature of the crowds made it difficult to direct response forces. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that protests were active at several sites through the city and that there were not enough officers to safely and successfully undertake multiple missions.
As the events unfolded that night, the Pentagon placed members of the Military Police Corps from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum on stand-by, preparing for possible deployment to the Twin Cities if requested by Walz. Walz later declined the offer and activated all of the state's National Guard, up to 13,200 troops.
The unrest subsidesEdit
Day 5: Saturday, May 30Edit
The sound of helicopters and smoke were present in Minneapolis through the night as multiple fires burned near the fifth police precinct. A United States Post Office on Nicollet, a Wells Fargo Bank branch, and several gas stations, among other business, blazed. Fire officials were unable to immediately attend to major fires, citing security concerns at the sites, but later reached them when the area was cleared of protesters.
For the second time in as many nights, officials held a press conference at 1:30 a.m. CDT, but this time in Saint Paul and led by the governor and state officials. Some officials speculated that much of the destruction was being caused by people from outside the state, a claim that was later contradicted by arrest records of protesters and that officials walked back. It was reported that Frey and Walz appeared visibly exhausted as they made emotional pleas to the public about Floyd's death and the escalation of violence. “The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice] that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed — this is dangerous,” Walz said. “You need to go home.” Walz also took responsibility for under estimating the size of the crowd causing deconstruction earlier in the night.
Officials mobilized guard troops throughout Saturday expecting even larger crowds. Groups of people continued to gather at the makeshift memorial at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent death. Minneapolis police reported that another group of protesters near Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street were attacking police by throwing nondescript objects, and deployed more units to the area. That night after curfew, police fired tear gas at a group of protesters who were attempting to march from Minneapolis to Saint Paul via the Lake Street bridge.
By Saturday night, the National Guard had reached full development levels. The unrest began to subside and protests returned to being largely peaceful events.
Day 6: Sunday, May 31Edit
Protests and rallies were held at various locations on Sunday. Crowds of people once again gathered at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent death. Speakers at a “Justice for George Floyd” rally at the state capitol building in Saint Paul spoke about police brutality and called for the arrest of the other three officers at the scene of Floyd's death. A peaceful crowd marched westbound on I-94 before heading down University Avenue in Saint Paul.
Shortly after 6:00 p.m. CDT, 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered on the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis while the interstate was supposed to be closed and began taking a knee. A semi-truck tanker, unaware the road was closed, drove through the crowd as they parted ways to avoid being run down. After the driver came to a halt, he was pulled from his cab and beaten by the surrounding crowd. He suffered minor injuries, with some of the protesters attempting to protect him. The people delivered the driver to the police, who then pepper-sprayed the crowd. The truck driver, later identified as Bogdan Vechirko, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center then released into the custody of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who charged him with assault. No serious injuries to the people on the bridge were reported. Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington denied that Vechirko did the act intentionally.
More than 100 people gathered outside the home of Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman to call for a special prosecutor to handle the case against the Minneapolis officers at the scene of Floyd's death. Activists criticized the four-day delay that it took Freeman's office to bring charges against Chauvin and the lack of charges against the other three officers involved. Later in the day, Walz and Freeman agreed that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would assist in the investigation, a move that did not end objections from activists such as Nekima Levy Armstrong that continued to call for a special prosecutor to handle the cases against the Minneapolis police officers.
Day 7: Monday, June 1Edit
Thousands gathered peacefully at the state capitol building in Saint Paul and marched to the governor's mansion, calling for police reforms and the prosecution of all four officers who were involved in Floyd's death. Nearly 30 Saint Paul police officers on the outskirts of the rally took a knee, which drew criticism from rally organizers who felt the gesture was hollow and asked them to leave. Activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, citing distrust of Ellison, demanded that Floyd's case be handled outside the state. Walz attended part of the rally but did not speak.
Day 8: Tuesday, June 2Edit
Somber protests continued at the Minneapolis intersection were Floyd was killed and a group remained after the curfew time came and went.
Day 9: Wednesday, June 3Edit
On June 3, Ellison, who four days earlier took over the case against the officers involved in Floyd's death, upgraded the murder charges against former officer Chauvin and charged former officers Kueng, Lane, and Thao with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Floyd's family called the charges “a significant step forward on the road to justice". Walz, who visited the Floyd memorial in Minneapolis where crowds continued to gather, said he recognized "that the anguish driving protests around the world is about more than one tragic incident".
Day 11: Friday, June 5Edit
As nights grew calmer, curfews that had been in place since the previous Friday ended in the Twin Cities.
Notable protests after June 5, 2020Edit
Protests on Saturday in Minneapolis were mostly peaceful. A march to the home of the mayor resulted in a confrontation where Frey was called to come out and asked if he supported abolishing the city's police force. After Frey responded that he did not, the crowd booed him away. In a speech that resonated with the gathered crowd, United States Representative Ilhan Omar denounced the city's police force as “inherently beyond reform”.
In Minneapolis, a large crowd gathered for a rally at the city's Powderhorn Park calling for more changes to the city's police force. Nine of the thirteen members on the Minneapolis City Council in attendance vowed on stage to "dismantle" the police department, but concrete details about it were less defined. Activists at the rally wanted to replace the police department with unarmed public safety responders.
An American Indian Movement group tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the state capitol building in Saint Paul as the global protest movement turned towards removing monuments and memorials with controversial legacies.
Protesters gathered at the Police Officers Federation building in Minneapolis to demand the resignation of Bob Kroll, head of the city's police union, who had characterized the protests and Black Lives Matter as a "terrorist organization". Thousands of people stretched in every direction from the federation building and listened to speeches by community leaders.
At dozens of Juneteenth commemorations that were held in the metropolitan area, including in Minneapolis near the former third precinct station and at the location where Floyd died, participants connected police brutality to the historic legacy of slavery in the United States. The Minnesota Black Lives Matter chapter that rallied at the state capitol building in Saint Paul called on state lawmakers who were meeting in a special legislative session to agree on police reform measures.
Protesters gathered outside the governor's mansion in Saint Paul and called on the governor to reconvene the legislature in a special session for the purpose of passing police reform measures. Lawmakers had recently adjourned a special session without agreeing to legislation on the topic.
Hundreds of protesters again gathered outside of the Minneapolis Police Federation to call for the removal of Bob Kroll as the organization's leader. Kroll had earlier said he would not step down from the post. The protesters said they would continue protesting until their demands were met.
Despite cancellation of official Twin Cities Pride festivities, protesters gathered in downtown Minneapolis and called for justice for Floyd, greater protections for black transgender people, community control of policing, and the freeing of "political prisoners".
Attacks on bystandersEdit
Several incidents in Minneapolis between bystanders and law enforcement were captured on video. On May 29 5:11 a.m. CDT, an encounter between CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and a camera crew led to their arrest by Minnesota State Patrol officers as Jimenez reported live on television. After intervention from Walz, the crew was released an hour later. Tom Aviles, a photojournalist with WCCO-TV, was shot at with rubber bullets and arrested at 8:45 p.m. CDT, on May 30, on live television. He was later released. A video circulated online showing police officers enforcing curfew ordering residents on their porches to go inside, and after a few demands, firing paint rounds at the residents. Video of a parking lot at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue, captured uniformed officers on May 30 slashing tires of unoccupied vehicles parked near protests, including those of several journalists. A Minnesota Department of Public Safety spokesperson later confirmed that the state patrol slashed tires in "a few locations", "in order to stop behaviors such as vehicles driving dangerously".
Curfews imposed on residentsEdit
The state imposed nightly curfews in the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul beginning on Friday, May 29 to keep people off the streets. Several metro area cities also put into place curfews of their own. The curfew in Minneapolis prohibited all forms and modes of travels with exceptions for those that need to travel for work. Those breaking curfew could face fines up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail. Officials hoped that the curfew would "isolate those who have criminal intent from those who do not". Curfews that started on Friday, May 29, were in effect from from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. By Monday, June 1, as nights grew calmer, curfews were shortened to 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and extended through the night of Thursday, June 4. Curfews fully ended one week after being put in place, on June 5.
Walz made several Minnesota statewide declarations during the course of events. He issued a proclamation declaring eight minutes 46 seconds of silence at 11:00 a.m. CDT on June 9, 2020, in memory of Floyd, which coincided with the beginning of Floyd's funeral in Houston, Texas He also proclaimed June 19 as "Juneteenth Freedom Day" and called on the legislature to make it an annual state holiday.
National Guard deploymentEdit
After the protests turned violent, more than 7,000 members of the Minnesota National Guard were activated and deployed to the Twin Cities. Their mission was to support local law enforcement, safeguard the state capitol building, and protect the right of people to protest. The deployment was the largest in the state's history. It was not until Saturday night, May 30, 2020, that the National Guard was fully mobilized, after which the unrest subsided and the protests returned to being largely peaceful events.
Speculation about outsidersEdit
Officials had trouble identifying the people responsible for causing destruction as the peaceful protests transitioned to riots. By May 30, Minnesota state law enforcement had recovered incendiaries, weapons, and stolen vehicles left in the areas of heated protests. Early in the events, state and local officials claimed that "white supremacists" and "outside agitators" might be responsible. Walz initially speculated that as much as 80% of people causing destruction and lighting fires could be from outside the state; several analysis of arrest records later contradicted the statement, finding that under 20% were. Carter said that all of the people arrested in Saint Paul by May 30 were from outside Minnesota, a claim he later rescinded.
Surrender of a police stationEdit
Built in 1985, the third precinct station in south Minneapolis was overrun by protesters and officially lost on Thursday, May 28, 2020. It is a matter of debate whether the decision by city officials to abandon it helped save lives or inspired more violence. Arradondo, Frey, and other city leaders prepared as early as Wednesday, May 27 for the possibility of surrendering the station, which had been the location of tense protests beginning the evening of Tuesday, May 26, a day after Floyd's death. According to Frey, after the precinct building was breached the city was face the choice of hand-to-hand combat with demonstrators that could result in more death, or forces could make a hasty departure and leave the building to the crowd, the latter of which happened in dramatic fashion as it was captured on live video. The image of an abandoned police station being set on fire by demonstrators was said to symbolize the collapse of order in Minneapolis and the failure of the police's relationship with the community. One protester said of watching the station burn that it felt like therapy after years of contention following the killing of metro area residents, including several black men, by police officers.
Each morning, hundreds of residents, some with snow shovels and brooms, went to areas affected by overnight rioting to clean up trash, graffiti, broken glass, and the remnants of damaged buildings. Some residents participating in the clean up told local media they were devastated by the damage, but shared the sense of anger and solidarity over Floyd's death.
Residents took action to support the needs of people for food and goods who were affected by the riots. In the areas of heavy rioting, many local stores were closed after being looted and burned, and food pantries were overwhelmed. A small food drive at a middle school in Minneapolis aimed to fill 85 bags of food to help families, but organizers ended up with a line of vehicles stretching 14 city blocks and 20,000 bags of bread, fruit, and other items. A food drive in the Little Earth community resulted in enough packages of food and diapers to serve 1,000 residents and 7,500 people from the nearby neighborhoods. Many organizations, overwhelmed by the volume of donations, had to turn them away.
A makeshift memorial emerged at the East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue intersection in Minneapolis near where Floyd died. Thousands of visitors protested and grieved at the site, which was described as like a "shrine". State and local elected officials that met with community members indicated their support for a more permanent memorial at the intersection. Many visitors left behind flowers by the murals and sculptures created by activists to symbolize the Black Lives Matter movement. The Minneapolis police announced that they would not alter or decommission the memorial site or remove artifacts.
Vibrant works of arts appeared all over the Twin Cities that sought to honor George Floyd's memory and show community solidarity. Boarded-up buildings were described as canvasses for artists, and so were walls, sidewalks, and public property. A mural of George Floyd on the side of the Cup Foods grocery store became one of the most recognizable images of the global protest movement that was sparked by his death, and a digital rendering of it served as a backdrop to his casket at his funeral in Houston, Texas. In a grassy field near the location where Floyd died, artists erected a symbolic cemetery with 100 gravestone markers of African-Americans, including of Floyd, who were killed by police. A group of local artists who were predominately Black, Indigenous, and People of Color painted murals on boarded-up business through the Twin Cities after raising money for paint supplies through several campaigns, and their works featured messages showing solidarity, calling for justice, and expressing pride for minority-owned businesses.
Residents awoke many mornings during the heaviest rioting to find nearby restaurants, liquor stores, and other businesses had been set on fire. In Minneapolis, the Longfellow, Powderhorn, and Phillips communities were heavily affected by the events. Reports and videos of residents confronting the people causing damage circulated, as did rumors about who might be responsible for the violence. Some residents felt the city and law enforcement had abandoned them, so they carried bats and sticks to protect their homes and businesses. On Saturday, May 30, Minneapolis city counselors hosted community meetings in public parks and helped residents initiate block-by-block plans to monitor disruptive activity. The American Indian community in Minneapolis organized group patrols of 50 to 100 volunteers each night of the larger protests, which was credited with saving more than 20 businesses along the Franklin Avenue corridor. The effort was organized by leaders of the American Indian Movement and a community development organization, as well as a coffee shop owner.
Many small business owners and organization leaders stood guard at their buildings overnight during the heaviest rioting. Some intervened to dissuade rioters from destroying property while others carried fire arms. Several establishments near Lake Street posted signs that the business or organization was minority or black owned, or that it served American Indian youth. Some businesses were spared from destruction, such as a Nepalese restaurant on East Lake Street in Minneapolis that posted such signs, but others were destroyed by fire despite similar notices, such as a nearby Indian restaurant and barbershop. One business owner of a distillery near the Minneapolis third precinct station credited "black owned" signs for preventing fires at part of his business complex.
Arrests and investigationsEdit
The multi-agency, law enforcement command center for the Twin Cities announced that 604 protesters had been arrested as of June 2 during the course of events. Several hundred of those arrested were described as participating in peaceful protests, but were taken into custody at night for violating curfew. Former NFL star and civil rights activist Colin Kaepernick donated what was described as a “substantial” sum of money to a legal fund to defend protesters in Minnesota and elsewhere. Many people charged with violating curfew faced potential fines of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail. In Saint Paul, 87 of the 100 people arrested during the unrest were for curfew violations. City attorney Lyndsey Olson said that cases would be dismissed for people engaging in peaceful protests that did not involve acts of violence.
In the weeks following the initial protests, federal law enforcement opened investigations of people who instigated looting and arson. By June 17, 2020, federal charges had been filed against 10 people, 9 of whom had ties to the U.S. state of Minnesota, for rioting or arson during the unrest. Among the arrests announced by U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald's office were two Minnesota residents for their role in the burning of the Minneapolis police third precinct. A 23-year-old man from Saint Paul, who was identified on video inside the precinct and later found in possession of police riot gear, was charged with aiding and abetting the looting and arson. Another man, a 22-year-old from Brainerd, Minnesota who authorities arrested in the U.S. state of Colorado, was captured on video lighting and throwing Molotov cocktails. Authorities identified many suspects via videos they posted of themselves at protests on social media websites. By July 4, 2020, a total of three men had been arrested and charged with abetting arson.
The investigation into the death of Calvin Horton Jr., the only fatality in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area during the unrest, did not result in charges for the owner of the Cadillac Pawn shop in Minneapolis who shot him. Horton Jr., a 43-year old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot by a 59-year-old man from Galesville, Wisconsin who owned the pawn shop and believed that Horton Jr. was attempting to break in at night on May 27, 2020. The pawn shop owner was initially arrested on possible murder charges. However, he was later released without charges and the case remained under investigation as of late June 2020.
Civic unrest after Floyd's death came in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic caused by the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 respiratory infection. People wearing protective masks became a common sight at protests. Health officials in Minnesota warned that mass protests could exacerbate the spread of the virus in Minnesota and trigger a surge in the outbreak that has a disproportionate impact on minority communities. In early June, the state's health department stood up free testing clinics with the help of community organizations and encouraged people who participated in protests to get tested. By June 18, of the 3,200 people tested at four popup sites in the metropolitan region, 1.8 percent tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, while testing by private health care provider HealthPartners had a 0.99 percent positive rate among the 8,500 people it tested who said they attended a mass gathering. Kristen Ehresmann, infectious disease director for the state health department, remarked about the data, "it appears there was very little transmission at protest events”.
The riots worsened economic conditions for people and business in Minneapolis and Saint Paul. An analysis of property damage caused by the riots determined that through June 19, nearly 1,500 businesses in the Twin Cities were damaged by vandalism, fire, or looting, with some reduced to rubble and dozens completely destroyed by fire. The heaviest damage occurred in Minneapolis along a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch on Lake Street between the city's third and fifth police precincts and in Saint Paul along a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) stretch of University Avenue in the Midway area. Estimates of property damage were upwards of $500 million, making the unrest in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area the second most destructive in United States history after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. During the riots, National Guard forces and law enforcement focused on protecting large institutions such as the Federal Reserve, power plants, and state capitol building. Officials acknowledged the emphasis came at the expense of family- and minority-owned business, many of which were burned or plundered by looters.
Soon after the riots subsided, officials vowed to mitigate the losses and help the affected businesses rebuild, and created new financing initiatives to accelerate repair and recovery efforts. At least one Minneapolis business that suffered heavy losses from the fires, 7-Sigma, said they would leave the city for good after losing trust in public officials during the riots. Some businesses announced plans to rebuild. Among them, the Target Corporation made a commitment to rebuild the store on East Lake Street that had been heavily damaged. The developer of the six-story, under-construction affordable housing building that burned down near the third precinct station announced plans in June to start the project over, a process the developer said would take two years.
While Minneapolis was hit harder by the riots, Saint Paul also suffered damage to 246 buildings, including 20 damaged by fire. Most of the damage was largely concentrated along the city's University Avenue corridor that features many small businesses owned by people of color. The damage accelerated plans for redevelopment of some sites near city's Allianz Field soccer stadium, but residents and business owners worried that outside investors would displace more local businesses that were disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unrest after the death of Floyd.
Walz requested federal aid to the tune of $15 million, the amount potentially eligible for reimbursement to mitigate fire damage, from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on July 2, 2020. In order for the request to be approved, President Trump would need to first declare a “major disaster” for the state of Minnesota.
The unrest in Minneapolis impacted people experiencing homelessness. People displaced by the unrest sought refuge in a vacant Sheraton hotel in the city's Midtown neighborhood. Volunteers helped turn it into a what was described as functioning hotel and sanctuary for nearly 200 people. However, residents at the hotel were later evicted, and some set up a sprawling camp at the city's Powderhorn Park. When the city's park board gave notice for people to clear the camp, resident's of the nearby Powderhorn Park neighborhood negotiated a longer stay with the park board and organized volunteers and aid for the people living in tents.
The widespread protests and a significant public scrutiny of its law enforcement policies led to reforms of policing in Minneapolis and the U.S. state of Minnesota. On June 5, 2020, the Minneapolis City Council and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights agreed to a temporary restraining order requiring Minneapolis to update its procedures to ban chokeholds and other neck restraints by police, such as the one an officer used in the incident when George Floyd was killed. Many organizations quickly distanced themselves from the Minneapolis police force by ending formal policing relationships, led by city's school district and park board and the University of Minnesota. The park board also announced changes to the park police uniforms and vehicles to distinguish them from Minneapolis police.
Bob Kroll, head of the Minneapolis police officers union, was the subject of protests. After offering support for the officers at Floyd's death and a full investigative process, he made few substantial statements during the initial course of events. But after several days of clashes with the police and protesters, he sent an email to Minneapolis rank-and-file police officers that became widely circulated. Kroll criticized Frey and Walz for not containing the riots and commending the work of responding officers, and he went on to characterize the protests as a "terrorist movement", a claim he also made about the Black Lives Matter movement in 2016. Frey and other officials were quick to condemn Kroll's email statement. Among them, Council President Lisa Bender described Kroll as "a barrier to change" of the Minneapolis police force. Several labor union leaders called for Kroll’s removal, with one saying he perpetuated "a culture of violence" against the black community. On June 10, 2020, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the police department would withdrawing from union contract negotiations as a first step towards police reforms.
At a Powderhorn Park rally organized by black-led social justice organizations on June 7, 2020, nine of the 13 members of the Minneapolis city council vowed to dismantle the city's police department, despite opposition from Frey. The pledge did not actually disband the police force and details about the next steps in the process were not defined by the council members at the time. Some activists wanted to consider the idea of unarmed crisis response personnel and re-purposing the police department's $193 million annual budget for education, food, housing, and health care. The city council voted unanimously on June 26, 2020, to revise the city's charter to permit dismantling of the police department, a step towards possibly replacing the police department with a civilian-led Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention, and with goal of putting the issue before voters on the ballot in November. The council's move drew opposition from some black leaders and activists who felt that the council was "pandering", in the words of a local pastor. Others felt that the council had not adequately included voices from the black community in the process and expressed the need to address public safety concerns as black residents were disproportionately victims of crime and witnesses of crime in the city, just as they were disproportionately victims of excessive police force.
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Arrangement is chronological.
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