I was on the ground for Minneapolis protests. Here’s what I saw.
One of theGrio's reporters tells us what unrest looks like on the ground
As people of all races and backgrounds took to the streets to express outrage over the death of George Floyd, I was on the ground in Minneapolis reporting as similar protests and demonstrations took place around the U.S.
The discontent of protesters was not just for Floyd but with the continued murders of Black people by the hands of police.
Floyd, 46, died on Memorial Day after then-officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video with his knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes as he cried out to Chauvin that he could not breathe.
Although four of the arresting officers, including Chauvin, were immediately fired only Chauvin has so far been charged. City unrest has led to the damage of businesses and even the Minneapolis Third Police Precinct being vandalized and set on fire.
Two days after Chauvin’s arrest, however, protests in America have continued around the U.S.
“We are a quiet state, most people don’t even know we exist. There are too many crimes happening and it is not Black on Black, it is the White police against us and we are sick of it, ” said Keke G, an independent artist, and songwriter from Minneapolis told me.
“After so long, we have to speak up and we have to stand up for something. Everybody is pissed, everybody is mad. This is not just this situation. It goes back 250 plus years.”
Many of the protests in Minneapolis started off peacefully until some individuals began taking goods from stores. In Minneapolis, at least 140 businesses have been either burned or broken into; including the Cubs Foods where the store’s owner initially called the police on Floyd to allege that he tried to use a fake $20 to buy cigarettes.
Many are questioning the role of some White people among the protestors who are being seen as provocateurs enticing rising tensions.
A now-viral video shows a White man dressed in all black with an umbrella breaking windows. Although he was among protestors he caused a lot of attention to himself and the man is seen on camera trying to get away from a Black man who appeared to be trying to get his identity.
Video shows a suspicious white man breaking windows at the Minneapolis Auto Zone and then walking away from the scene. This looks like an effort to instigate trouble in order to blame the protesters for the consequences.
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) May 28, 2020
On Friday night in Los Angeles over 400 people were arrested in Downtown LA and at least two officers were injured from the protest. In Atlanta, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has requested support from the National Guard after protestors stormed CNN headquarters, breaking windows and holding a massive protest in front of the building.
Republican congressional candidate Joe Collins traveled from South Central, LA to Minneapolis to stand in solidarity with the family of Floyd. He told me he is familiar with the 1992 riots which saw Los Angeles go up in flames, specifically businesses meant to service Black and minority communities.
“As a Black leader, we must come together and stand with those across the country who are being oppressed to show them that they are not alone,” Collins told me. “We are tired of them having their knees on our necks just as Floyd was. We are just as tired of them murdering our Black babies in Los Angeles just like they are in Minneapolis. We are stronger together than we are alone.”
The death of Floyd is within the backdrop of Ahmaud Arbery’s fatal shooting by community vigilantes Gregory McMichael and Travis McMichael, along with the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her own home by Lousiville police.
The massive demonstrations going on across the country is not only about Floyd. They are about the systemic issues of racism in this country and people have reached their breaking point.
Maya Santamaria is the owner of El Nuevo Rodeo Club on Lake Street in Minneapolis. She revealed that both Floyd and Chauvin worked at Rodeo Club as security in 2019, although it is unclear if they knew each other. Santamaria also says that Chauvin was known to have a bad temper and be intimidated and fearful of African-American males.
Minneapolis native TJ Deen told me that he is sad over what is currently happening in his city. His family is from Sierra Leone but he was born in the U.K., where he says that police murdering people is close to none.
The United Kingdom does not allow its police to use deadly force unless it is requested and necessary.
“For you to retrieve your weapon you actually have to put a request in and have it approved. In the United States, carrying a gun is the norm. So as a citizen you think carrying a gun is normal. Shooting people is normal. You are desensitized.”
Deen said that police in the U.S are taught more combat tactics than they are de-escalation tactics.
“I want to see more people like me involved in politics and the police force. Black people always want to own something and I love the sole proprietorship. I love us being owners and the boss,” he said.
“Sometimes though, you have to be a lawyer. Go to school and become a lawyer because our people need lawyers. Go to school and become a psychologist because your people need psychologists.”
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