Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday afternoon on charges of third degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, who Chauvin killed on Monday.
Floyd, who was arrested on suspicion of check forgery, died after Chauvin held his knee to the man’s neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd begged for mercy, repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” The incident was captured on video.
Chauvin has since been fired, along with the three other officers on scene. The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will initiate a civil rights investigation into the killing.
Floyd’s death has rightly prompted a lot of anger. That anger, in turn, has manifested itself both in peaceful protests and in rioting. Videos show a Target being looted, an Autozone set on fire, and several local businesses robbed and set ablaze. Rory Purnell rushed to his barber shop on Thursday night to let would-be looters know that it was run by an African American. He was too late, with one of his windows already smashed in.
A Minneapolis police building was also torched, with Mayor Jacob Frey eventually ordering officers to stand down from that precinct. “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life,” he said at a press conference.
As Reason‘s Christian Britschgi wrote yesterday, armed civilians wound up fending off rioters at one tobacco shop. “That these four amateurs were able to protect this one business raises the question of why the city’s more numerous and better equipped professional police weren’t able to protect other businesses in a similar fashion,” he wrote. Instead, we’ve seen some cops firing rubber bullets from a rooftop and others defending the aforementioned burning precinct with tear gas and flash bang grenades.
At a peaceful protest downtown, apparently devoid of any such looting, a video shows an officer spraying pepper spray into the crowd from a moving vehicle, where he or she surely faced no imminent danger. Other officers arrested three journalists for reporting on the protests.
President Donald Trump weighed in early Friday morning. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he said. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he added, in a tweet that has since been flagged by Twitter as violating rules on “glorifying violence.”
The president later said that he was not calling for anyone to be shot but rather meant that violence begets violence. “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night,” he tweeted, referring to Calvin L. Horton Jr., who was shot outside of a looted Minneapolis pawn shop by the store’s owner, John Rieple. He is in jail awaiting possible murder charges.
The riots have been condemned by others across the political aisle. “We should and must protest peacefully,” tweeted Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.), whose district includes all of Minneapolis. “But let us end the cycle of violence now.”