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Minnesota governor declares state of emergency amid violent protests over George Floyd's death

Floyd’s death is seen as the latest example of police brutality against African Americans in the US.

protesters-clash-over-george-floyd-death-in-minnesota A man pictured outside a burning building in Minnesota. Source: David Joles/Zuma Press/PA Images

THE MINNESOTA GOVERNOR has declared a state of emergency and activated the state’s National Guard to respond to looting and violent protests over the death of George Floyd.

Floyd’s death in Minneapolis on Monday is under investigation by the FBI and state law enforcement authorities.

A video showed the 46-year-old pleading that he could not breathe as a white officer knelt on his neck.

Source: CBS This Morning/YouTube

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in Minneapolis, St Paul and other cities over the last three days with some clashes turning violent.

Floyd’s death has reignited a debate about race and how people of colour are treated in the US.

The case is seen as the latest example of police brutality against African Americans, which gave rise to the Black Lives Matter movement in recent years.

In the executive order announcing the state of emergency, Governor Tim Walz said: “Since Mr Floyd’s death, thousands of Minnesotans have expressed their frustration in a peaceful and constructive manner. Demonstrators have gathered in Minneapolis, St Paul, and surrounding communities to protest Mr Floyd’s death.

“Peaceful demonstrations are a keystone of our democratic system. We must also allow those who wish to protest peacefully to do so safely.

Unfortunately, some individuals have engaged in unlawful and dangerous activity, including arson, rioting, looting, and damaging public and private property.

“These activities threaten the safety of lawful demonstrators and other Minnesotans, and both first responders and demonstrators have already been injured. Many businesses, including businesses owned by people of color [sic], have suffered damage as a result of this unlawful activity.”

Walz said Minneapolis has “exhausted its resources and called for assistance from mutual aid partners to ensure immediate response to protect life, safety, and property”.

“These mutual aid partners have fully committed their available resources. The Cities of Minneapolis and St Paul have activated their emergency operations plan, and the Mayors of both cities have requested the assistance of the Minnesota National Guard to help provide security and restore safety.”

Protests have also taken place in cities such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Memphis.

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‘He wants justice’

The White House said President Donald Trump was “very upset” upon seeing “egregious, appalling” video footage of Monday’s killing and had demanded his staff see that the investigation was given top priority.

“He wants justice to be served,” Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters.

On Tuesday, four police officers who were involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired after the video was widely shared online. There have widespread calls for arrests to be made. 

Police said Floyd matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store, and that he resisted arrest. The unidentified officer ignores his pleas. “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,” the man is heard telling the officer.

After several minutes, one of the officers tells the man to “relax”. Minutes pass, and the man becomes motionless under the officer’s restraint. The officer leaves his knee on the man’s neck for several minutes more.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey apologised to the black community in a post on his Facebook page earlier this week.

“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence. For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic, human sense,” Frey posted.

Contains reporting from © AFP 2020 and PA 

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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