George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul
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|George Floyd protests |
in Minneapolis–Saint Paul
|Part of George Floyd protests|
|Date||May 26, 2020 – present (1 year, 7 months, 3 weeks and 2 days)|
|Methods||Riots, demonstrations, civil disobedience, civil resistance, public art|
|Status||Prolonged local unrest|
|Arrested||604 from May 27, 2020—June 2, 2020|
|Damage||As reported by June 19, 2020:|
1,500 property locations
150 buildings set on fire
Local protests over the murder of George Floyd (sometimes called the Minneapolis riots or Minneapolis uprising) began on May 26, 2020, and quickly inspired a global protest movement against police brutality and racial inequality. The initial events were a reaction to a video filmed the day before and circulated widely in the media of police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds while Floyd struggled to breathe, begged for help, and lost consciousness. Floyd was later transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Public outrage over the content of the video gave way to widespread civil disorder in Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and other cities in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area over a three-night period from May 27–29, 2020.
In the days after Floyd's murder, Minneapolis sustained extraordinary damage from rioting and looting in the resulting chaos—largely concentrated on a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch of Lake Street south of downtown—including the demise of the city's third police precinct building, which was overrun by demonstrators and set on fire. At cost of $350 million, approximately 1,300 properties in Minneapolis were damaged by the civil unrest, of which nearly 100 were entirely destroyed. Saint Paul suffered damages that totaled $82 million and affected 330 buildings, including 37 that were heavily damaged or entirely destroyed, mostly along the its University Avenue business corridor. More than 160 structure fires were reported in the Twin Cities.
Governor Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard in response to the riots. The 7,123 troops pressed into duty represented the largest deployment of the state's forces since World War II. By early June 2020, violence in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area had resulted in at least 2 deaths, 604 arrests, and upwards of $500 million in damage to approximately 1,500 properties, the second-most destructive period of local unrest in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Violent protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul over the murder of George Floyd largely subsided after May 30, 2020. The Minnesota National Guard and a multi-jurisdiction government command that responded to the riots demobilized on June 7, 2020.
Murder of George Floyd
George Floyd was an unarmed African-American man who died while he was 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. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, while other officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao assisted with the arrest and held concerned onlookers back. Floyd could be heard repeatedly on a bystander's video saying: "I can't breathe", "Please", and "Mama". He appeared unconscious at the scene, and was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. after being transported by an ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room.
Racial disparities in Minnesota
By the beginning of the 21st century, Minneapolis was home to some of the largest racial disparities in the United States. The city's population of people of color and Indigenous people fared worse than the city's white population for many measures of well-being, such as health outcomes, academic achievement, income, and home ownership. The result of discriminatory policies and racism over the course of the city's history, racial disparity was described by author Tom Webber in Minneapolis: An Urban Biography as the most significant issue facing Minneapolis in the first decades of the 2000s.
By 2015, homeownership rates in the Twin Cities were 75 percent for white families, but only 23 percent for black families, one of the largest disparities in the nation. By 2018, unemployment for blacks in Minnesota had reached a historic low of 6.9 percent, but it was still three times higher than the rate for whites. Though black residents made up just 6 percent of Minnesota's population, they were nearly 37 percent of the state's prison population in 2016. By the 2020s, generations of the city's black residents had been unable to experience the same levels of comforts and asset accumulation as the white residents.
The Atlantic said that years of disinvestment and abandonment of the area around Lake Street in Minneapolis and city officials ignoring the needs of the community's black residents were some of the conditions that led to civil disorder in Minneapolis.
Prior killings of residents by police
George Floyd's murder was viewed by some residents as another instance of police violence in Minneapolis, where 11 people were killed by police officers between 2010 and 2020, including Floyd. In 2015, the killing of Jamar Clark, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer led to controversy and protests; it was later determined by prosecutors that the officers had acted in self defense and no charges were filed. In 2016, the killing of Philando Castile, a black man, in nearby Falcon Heights resulted in several weeks of protests and unrest; the resulting criminal case ended with a jury acquittal for the involved officer after a 10-month process. In 2017, the killing of Justine Damond, a white woman, led to a 12-year prison sentence for the police officer, a black man, who shot her.
In instances where Minneapolis police officers attempted to justify the aggressive use of force against residents, a pattern emerged in which the police department would release officer statements that were later contradicted by video and other evidence, as revealed by several civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits. Some felt that the judicial system was inconsistent in that it did not hold white police officers who killed black men accountable for their actions; the video of Floyd begging for relief while being pinned by Chauvin generated further concern and anger from both white and black residents in the city. Floyd's murder was also the third in a string of widely reported and highly publicized incidents in which unarmed black Americans were killed in 2020, including Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta on February 23 and Breonna Taylor in Louisville on March 13. It was unclear if demonstrators were angered only by the graphic video of Floyd's murder or by the culmination of recent incidents in the United States.
Distrust of Minneapolis police
By 2020, the relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department and the community, particularly the city's black residents, had deteriorated significantly. Several killings of residents by police officers and alleged displays of racial insensitivity by police leaders contributed to the tension. In the city's Powderhorn Park neighborhood, where Floyd was murdered, some argued there had been a persisting distrust between the police and black community.
The head of the police union representing Minneapolis officers, Bob Kroll, was a continuing source of controversy, having called Black Lives Matter a "terrorist organization" in 2016 after the officers involved in Clark's death were cleared of wrongdoing. His appearance at a political rally for Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2019 generated controversy when Kroll said that Trump would "let cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of [on] us". Controversy had also erupted when police officers put up a "ghetto" Christmas tree at the fourth police precinct station in 2018.
The police department had a history of not holding officers accountable for complaints and disciplinary actions. Of the 80 officers fired for misconduct in the 20 years prior to the murder of Floyd, half were able to be reinstated. As a police officer with the department, Chauvin had received 17 complaints, but only faced discipline once.
Protests and riots
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Initial reactions to Floyd's murder
At 12:41 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, Minneapolis police released a statement about the arrest and murder of Floyd several hours prior. They said that a suspected money forger had "physically resisted" arrest and suffered "medical distress" after being handcuffed by officers, leading to his death. The statement made no mention that Floyd was unarmed or that Chauvin had kneeled on his neck for over nine minutes. At about the same time the police released their initial statement, Darnella Frazier, a bystander at the scene of Floyd's murder, uploaded a 10-minute video of the incident to Facebook. The graphic video captured Floyd—while laying face down, handcuffed, and pinned by Chauvin's knee—saying he couldn’t breathe and begging for his life as he lost consciousness. The video quickly went viral.
Official reaction came early in the morning. By 3:11 a.m. the police department said that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would join their investigate of the incident. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey held a 6:45 a.m. press conference, and said in reaction to the bystander video he had seen, "What we saw was horrible. Completely and utterly messed up." By mid-morning several public officials released statements condemning what they viewed in the bystander's video. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said it was "vile and heartbreaking" and all of the officers present at the scene of Floyd's arrest should be held accountable. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called for an independent investigation. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz promised, "We will get answers and seek justice." The four officers at the scene of Floyd's murder were placed on paid administrative leave, a standard protocol, pending further investigation.
The Minneapolis police department's initial mis-characterization of Floyd's murder, which may have been intended to defuse tension, was perceived as being radically different than what was recorded on bystander videos and it fueled public outrage.
Organized protests emerge
By late morning, a makeshift memorial had been set up in Minneapolis outside the Cup Food store at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, the street intersection where Floyd was murdered the day prior. The first organized protests emerged at the same location by midday. Some of the gathered protesters chanted, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe", words repeated multiple times by Floyd in the viral video. Many people carried homemade signs that read, "Black Lives Matter," "Stop Killing Black People," and "I Can't Breathe." As more details about the May 25 incident between Floyd and the police were known, thousands more rallied at the street intersection, and organizers emphasized keeping the protest peaceful.
Police officers fired
Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo held an afternoon press conference to express solidarity with the community's growing sense of anger about the arrest incident. Frey called for charges to be filed against the involved officers who killed Floyd, and said, "Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth that he should be with us this morning." Arradondo added, "Being Black in America should not be a death sentence."
In an unprecedented move in Minneapolis for swiftness, Arradondo fired the four officers who had been present at the scene of Floyd's arrest and murder, a move supported by Frey. Protesters and Floyd's family called for murder charges for all four officers involved and swift judicial consequences, as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also opened an investigation of the incident. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police officer's union, said the firing of the officers occurred without due process and offered "full support of the officers" during the investigations. Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the official responsible for bringing criminal charges against the police officers, promised an expedited review of the case.
Protests intensify into rioting
The tone of protests, which were peaceful initially, shifted that afternoon. Just before dusk, the protest rally at the location of Floyd's murder became a two-mile (3.2 km), peaceful march to the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct police station where the four involved officers worked. At the station, protesters rallied peacefully with megaphones and signs on the steps at the building's entrance. The main protest group disbanded later in the evening. A smaller group that broke away from the main protest breached the fence of the station parking lot, vandalized the building with graffiti, threw rocks and bottles at officers, broke a window of the building, and broke a window of an unoccupied police car. Some protesters tried to stop the vandalism, with a scuffle breaking out in the crowd.
Recently 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 not interfere with those vandalizing police property, hoping to spare the surrounding neighborhood from further damage. Police Chief Arradondo eventually ordered forces to respond, and police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to push demonstrators back, even at those who were not being violent. He later told reporters that he made the decision because some officers kept weapons in their vehicles that could be taken. In response to being fired upon, demonstrators threw rocks, water bottles, and miscellaneous objects towards the officers. The unruly crowd clashing with the police at this point was measured in the hundreds, a noted contrast from the larger, peaceful group gathered earlier in the day, who were estimated to number in the thousands. Many protesters viewed the police response to the vandalism as an overreaction that only made the crowd angrier.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Peaceful protests resume
Protests in Minneapolis continued on Wednesday, May 27 at several locations 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 Cup 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. A protest occurred outside the Minneapolis home of Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the local official with jurisdiction to bring forth criminal charges against the police officers at the scene of Floyd's arrest and death.
Looting and arson begin
In the afternoon, at an AutoZone store at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, across the intersection from the third police precinct station, a masked man carrying an umbrella and a hammer was recorded on video breaking windows and spray-painting graffiti which encouraged looting. An investigation of the incident remained open in 2021. The abrupt attack came during a mostly calm demonstration at the street intersection of the third police precinct station. Some protesters confronted the masked man and asked him to stop. The situation near the third police precinct station worsened when a nearby Target store was extensively looted by a crowd of about 100 people. Later in the evening, the same AutoZone store became the first building to be set on fire during the unrest. Some protesters attempted to put out the AutoZone fire, while others celebrated and took selfies.
Fatal shooting of Calvin Horton Jr. and other violence
Violence escalated by nightfall. One mile (1.6 km) from the main protest site near the city's third police precinct building, Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year-old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot by a pawnshop owner who believed he was burglarizing his business. Including Horton, five people were struck by gunfire in Minneapolis that night, but he was the only reported fatality.
Local officials react and plan
Frey made an emotional plea just before midnight, saying, "Please, please, Minneapolis. We cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy. The activity around Lake and Hiawatha is now unsafe. Please, help us keep the peace. ..."
Frey also reached out to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz that night and requested the help of the Minnesota National Guard, but the city government was reportedly unaware of the timeline and logistics of troop deployment, and relegated tactical coordination to the police force. 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 with demonstrators.
Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson, who represented the area by the third police precinct station, blamed the police for the unfolding destruction, saying "It looked like they were defending the Alamo and letting the community burn", in reference to the police presence and tactics at the police station building.
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 to a city official about Ellison's remarks that such a move would result in "ultimate chaos".
Destruction spreads overnight
Looting and property destruction were widespread in Minneapolis that night. The heaviest destruction, however, was in the vicinity of the third precinct station near Minnehaha Avenue and East Lake Street, where the fire at an AutoZone store led to a series of other fires and looting at nearby stores. Among the losses to fire that night was Midtown Corner, an under-construction, $30 million redevelopment project for 189 units of affordable housing, which was destroyed by fire after being torched. Across the street, the manufacturing facility for 7-Sigma, a local high-tech company, also suffered extensive fire damage and part of the factory building collapsed. The response from firefighters in the area was delayed as crews required police escorts for protection from rioters. The Minneapolis fire department responded to approximately 30 fires overnight.
Looting, which first began at the Target store near the third precinct police station, spread to a nearby Cub Foods grocery store, and to several liquor stores, pharmacies, and other businesses across the city.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
At a press conference on May 28, Chief Arradondo remarked that, in his view, the majority of protests the previous day were peaceful, but were "hijacked" by some who were looting and vandalizing businesses. Minneapolis city officials hoped that the worst violence had already passed.
To quell riotous behavior, Mayor Frey declared a state of emergency to allow for 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 who had heard rumors and noticed the station's parking lot being emptied of police squad cars and equipment.
Businesses throughout 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 patrolled the city's busiest commercial corridor and kept looters out of a Target store near University Avenue while other business windows were smashed. Minneapolis preemptively shut down its light-rail system and bus service through Sunday, May 31 out of safety concerns. Officials pleaded with metro area residents to stay home Thursday night to prevent further property destruction. African American Saint Paul mayor Melvin Carter 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."
At 4 p.m. CDT, Governor Walz formally activated 500 National Guard troops and deployed them to the Twin Cities area, at the request of city leaders. Walz commented, "George Floyd's death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction." Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan added, "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.
Delay of officer criminal charges
State and federal prosecutors called a press conference in the late afternoon at a regional FBI office in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb. It was anticipated that there they might reveal a major development in the case against the officers who were at the scene of Floyd's murder. After a long delay, however, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman announced that his office needed more time to investigate and that there was other evidence that might result in no criminal charges being filed. In responding to the anticipation created by 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, 2020, it was revealed that state and federal prosecutors — on the afternoon of the delayed press conference — had been trying to negotiate a plea deal with former officer Derek Chauvin that would have included state murder charges and federal civil rights charges. It was later reported that Chauvin believed that the case against him was so devastating that he agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder. As part of the deal, he was willing to go to prison for more than 10 years. The deal fell apart shortly before it was going to be announced after William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General, rejected the arrangement fearing that it would be viewed as too lenient by protestors. The deal was contingent on the federal government's approval because Chauvin, who had asked to serve his time in a federal prison, wanted assurance he would not face federal civil rights charges. Details about the potential plea agreement were not publicly known during the initial period of unrest.
Transition from peaceful to destructive demonstrations
Thousands of people march peacefully in the streets of Minneapolis and called for justice for George Floyd during the day on May 28. Sporadic looting was reported in the afternoon in Saint Paul's Midway neighborhood. A crowd of about at thousand people rallied in the early evening at the Hennepin County Government Center building in Minneapolis, and then marched through the city's downtown area where store fronts had been boarded up and the state patrol maintained a heavy presence—no violence was reported from the march.
Hundreds of demonstrators returned to the area near 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 sunset that the crowd grew more restless, when looting of a nearby Target store resumed and a vehicle and building were set on fire.
Multiple large, mobile crowds and chaos were reported across the city by nightfall. A crowd of 1,500 protesters were marching through a downtown shopping district in Minneapolis where there were 400 state troopers present. The tension escalated when another large crowd advanced on the city's first police precinct station near Hennepin Avenue and 5th Street. Demonstrators there shot off fireworks and stood off against a line of Minneapolis police officers who fired tear gas. Other protesters marched on the Interstate 35W highway. Smaller crowds gathered elsewhere. "We were defending an entire city with 600 officers against thousands and thousands of protestors," Frey later said of the events.
Inhalation death of Oscar Lee Stewart Jr.
The intensity of demonstrations increased as dozens of businesses were looted and set on fire on East Lake Street in Minneapolis near the city's third police precinct station. Looters broke into a liquor store across the street from the police station, passed out bottles to the crowd, and then set the store on fire. The nearby Max It Pawn store was set on fire as it was being looted. Bystanders discovered that a person was trapped inside the building, but were unable to help guide them out after frantically removing some plywood from windows and shining flashlights inside. Fire crews that arrived later found the building too unstable for a rescue operation into the structure. The remains of the victim, the second death during the unrest, were not recovered until nearly two months later. In October 2020 the identify of victim was revealed to be Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a 30-year-old man from Burnsville, Minnesota. He died from smoke inhalation and burn injuries sustained the night of May 28, according to an official autopsy report. Montez T. Lee Jr., a 26-year-old man from Rochester, Minnesota, later pled guilty to one federal count of arson for pouring an accelerant around the business and setting it on fire.
Burning of the third precinct police station
Late that night the focus of demonstrators shifted to the Minneapolis third precinct police station building at the intersection of East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue. Some protesters threw objects at the officers guarding the building, who responded by firing rubber bullets in the crowd. Demonstrators began tearing down fencing that surrounded the precinct station and police responded with tear gas. As tensions and fires in the area mounted, Frey gave the order to evacuate the station, a tactic he later said was to deescalate the situation and prevent further loss of life. Despite the evacuation order there were still at least 13 police officers in the building with some reportedly sending texts to loved ones in fear for their lives.
Officers retreating from the building loaded into squad vehicles and had to crash through a parking lot gate as it been padlocked at some point by protesters. Demonstrators then moved in and threw bottles and debris at the fleeing officers who eventually made their way to a rendezvous site three blocks away. At 10:13 p.m. CDT, chief Arradondo announced over police radio, "City wide tone right now, for the loss of the Third Precinct". After that moment, there was no police, fire, or emergency medical services presence in the area where the riots occurred as live television news broadcast scenes of escalating destruction.
As chaos grew at the police station, hundreds of people in the crowd shouted, "Burn it down! Burn it down!" Demonstrators tore away fencing intended to stop trespassers from entering the building. Two men lit a Molotov cocktail and one took it into the building. Other demonstrators pushed materials into a fire at the building's entrance, intending to accelerate the flames. Surrounded by an unruly crowd, the station burned until the early morning hours of May 29 when firefighting crews reached the area and eventually extinguished fires.
The several-hundred-member contingent of state patrol and National Guard troops on the ground in Minneapolis that night primarily escorted fire trucks and protected a Federal Reserve building and areas of downtown Minneapolis. Walz later remarked that the city had not given directions specifying where to deploy troops as the violence escalated on East Lake Street. State officials also remarked that the city's decision to abandon the precinct station was a misjudgment, allowing demonstrators to create a situation of "absolute chaos", in the words of Walz.
In October 2021, three members of the far-right Boogaloo Boys admitted to having shot into the police building with an AK-47 during the riot. They stated their goal had been to "instigate chaos".
Destruction in Saint Paul and elsewhere
In neighboring Saint Paul, which had been spared from widespread property destruction on the prior night, 170 businesses were damaged or looted and dozens of fires were started on Thursday. The largest fires burned at a liquor store near Allianz Field soccer stadium at Snelling and University avenues. No major injuries were reported in those fires. Lloyd's Pharmacy on Snelling Avenue, which had a business presence in the area since 1918, was looted over several hours and then set on fire, which burnt the building structure to the ground. Two shopping centers in Saint Paul near University Avenue, the Sun Ray Shopping Center and Midway Shopping Center, were extensively looted. At the Midway Shopping Center, rioters torched the Foot Locker store, and fires spread to the adjacent GameStop and Great Clips stores.
Looting and property destruction reached several suburban communities in the Twin Cities. The Rosedale Center shopping mall in Roseville was looted. People also broke into the Northtown Mall in Blaine that night, but police responded and secured the facility. In Apple Valley, overnight from May 28 to May 29, two Minnesota men threw Molotov cocktails into a government service center in an attempt to burn it down.
President Trump reacts
Just before midnight local time, President Donald Trump posted a controversial statement on Twitter in reaction to the events in Minneapolis. He said, "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"
Friday, May 29, 2020
In a follow up to an earlier statement on Twitter, Trump said just after midnight, "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right….."
Frey addressed the media at 1:30 a.m. CDT as the city was battling multiple fires and violence. He acknowledged the anger in the community over Floyd's murder, but condemned the actions of rioters and looters. In defense of his decision to have police withdraw from the third precinct station to deescalate tension, he said, "Brick and mortar is not as important as life". He also reacted to Trump's tweets and criticized the president for stoking tension and casting blame on officials during an active crisis event.
Streets cleared and curfews announced
At daybreak, National Guard troops and Minnesota State Patrol officers began clearing people out of the area of the third police precinct station in Minneapolis. At about 6:00 a.m., patrol officers arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his camera crew as they were filming a live news report on television. After intervention from Walz, the crew was released an hour later. Major-General Jon Jensen, the highest ranking officials in the Minnesota National Guard, expressed frustration form local leaders who had not clarified aspects of the mission.
Governor Walz imposed a state 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 an overlapping local curfew in Minneapolis.
Chauvin charged, but other charges pending
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. New charges for officers Lane, Kueng, and Thao, who were at the scene of Floyd's murder, remained pending. Protesters who had demanded immediate murder charges against all four officers were disappointed; four days had already elapsed since Floyd's murder. Many protestors intensified focus on the demand for criminal charges in their messaging that day.
Protests and violence resume
The Target Corporation expanded its closure of stores to 73 in Minnesota with the violence not appearing to abate. Several thousand people rallied peacefully in Minneapolis in the afternoon, culminating in a march on to Interstate 35W where demonstrators knelt. The de-escalation strategy of abandoning the third precinct station the previous night, however, was said to have had little effect on quelling unrest later on Friday. Despite the announcement of the charges against the officers involved in Floyd's murder and the new curfew, riots broke out again on Friday night and continued into early Saturday morning. Demonstrators had tear gas fired on them in rallies at the abandoned third precinct building in Minneapolis. Later in the night, the police presence diminished and several cars were set on fire that neighbors attempted to put out.
Much of the action the night of May 29 took place near the Minneapolis police fifth precinct station at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue. Residents of the Midtown Exchange, a historic building with mix-use space for commercial and residential use, fended off threats to their building by patrolling the area with baseball bats. 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 across Minneapolis that night.
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, the time it takes to mobilize guard troops, and the 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.
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Overnight from May 29 to May 30, smoke and the sound of helicopters filled the sky in Minneapolis through the night as multiple fires burned near the fifth police precinct station in Minneapolis. A United States Post Office on Nicollet Avenue, a Wells Fargo Bank branch, and several gas stations, among other businesses, blazed overnight. Several businesses also burned on West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, including a barbershop that was destroyed by fire. Officials were unable to immediately attend to major fires, citing security concerns at the sites, but later reached them when they could be accompanied by National Guard and police patrols.
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 rescinded. It was reported that mayor Frey and governor Walz appeared visibly exhausted as they made emotional pleas to the public about Floyd's murder 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 underestimating the size of the crowds causing destruction earlier in the night.
Mix of peaceful and confrontational protests
Officials mobilized National Guard troops throughout Saturday, expecting even larger crowds. Groups of people continued to gather at George Floyd Square, the makeshift memorial at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent murder. More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the home of Michael Freeman, the attorney for Hennepin County and initial prosecutor of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd, and caused minor damage to the house.
By nightfall, demonstrations in Minneapolis were a mix of peaceful gatherings and others that involved property destruction. Minneapolis police reported that a 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. Police also fired rubber bullets, paint canisters, and tear gas at sitting protestors and journalists outside the Minneapolis fifth precinct police station, resulting in serious injuries. At about 11:00 p.m., Minneapolis police officers that patrolled East Lake Street near 15th Avenue South were hit with rocks, debris, and bottles of bodily fluids thrown by demonstrators.
By Saturday night, the Minnesota National Guard had reached full mobilization. No buildings were set on fire in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, unlike the previous three nights. After May 30, violent riots subsided and protests returned to being largely peaceful events.
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Shot fired at an unmarked police vehicle
At approximately 4:00 a.m. a 27-year old man from Saint Paul fired a gunshot at Minneapolis police officer on East Lake Street who were patrolling the area and encountered a group of people in a parking lot. The police officers were in an unmarked white van and fired rubber bullets at the group without first announcing themselves. Those in the group later said they were protecting a gas station from looting in defiance of the curfew. The 27-year old man fired what he believed was as a defensive gunshot back at an unknown persons, whom he thought might be white supremacists firing actual bullets. When a SWAT team exited the van and identified themselves, the 27-year old man surrendered and was subsequently beaten by the officers as they arrested him, as the events were filmed by officer body cameras. The man faced intentional murder and other charges, but he was acquitted on all accounts in a July 2021 trial, after successfully arguing the gunshot was self defense.
Troop deployment and peaceful rallies
By late Saturday morning, Minnesota National Guard troops were conducting missions with more on the way. Protests and rallies were held at various locations throughout the Minneapolis–Saint Paul region. Crowds of people once again gathered at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent murder. 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 murder. A peaceful crowd marched westbound on I-94 before heading down University Avenue in Saint Paul.
Tanker truck incident on I-35W
Shortly after 6:00 p.m. CDT, an estimated crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered on the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and, believing police forces had fully closed the interstate highway after they marched on to it, began taking a knee. An unaware semi-truck tanker drove northbound through an unbarricaded section of the highway and into the protesters, causing the crowd to part ways to avoid being run down. The driver—a 35-year-old man from Otsego, Minnesota returning from a fuel delivery—initially came to a halt, but then tried to continue driving forward, until he was pulled from his cab and beaten by the surrounding crowd. He suffered minor injuries, as some of the protesters attempted to protect him.
A live social media video captured a person pointing a gun at the truck driver and shooting two rounds into the truck's front tire. Bystanders brought the truck driver to the police, who then pepper-sprayed the crowd. The driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center then released into the custody of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which initially charged him with assault. No serious injuries to the people on the bridge were reported, though one protester suffered abrasions during the incident. Led by the Minnesota State Patrol and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, officials cited 318 people for unlawful assembly in connection to the incident.
The driver was charged in October 2020 for criminal vehicular operation, but in June 2021 the charges were dropped and he agreed to a year-long probationary period and payment of restitution.
June 1–7, 2020
Memorials and gatherings
On June 1, 2020, Governor Walz began the process of demobilizing the state's National Guard, a process that would take several days. Two autopsy reports were publicized—one by the Hennepin County medical examiner and one by doctors hired by Floyd's family—both ruled Floyd's death a homicide.
Thousands gathered peacefully at the Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul and marched to the Governor's Residence, calling for police reforms and the prosecution of all four officers who were involved in Floyd's murder. 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 a hollow public relations stunt and asked them to leave. Activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, citing distrust of Attorney General Keith Ellison, demanded that Floyd's case be handled outside the state. Governor Tim Walz attended part of the rally but did not speak publicly.
Floyd's family addressed a crowd at the 38th and Chicago intersection and encouraged people to continue protesting, but to do so peacefully. Terrance Floyd, George's brother, said that instead of destroying property, demonstrators should, ""Educate yourself, and know who you're voting for. That's how we're going to hit them...Let's switch it up."
On June 2, 2020, thousands of people gathered for several peaceful protests across the Twin Cities. Reflecting on social justice action during the United States civil rights era, faith leaders held corresponding marches in south Minneapolis and Saint Paul. A dozen area high school students organized a sit in at the state capitol building in Saint Paul that drew an estimated crowd of 3,000 people. A National Guard troop member was given the opportunity to briefly address the crowd to explain their mission to restore order and protect peaceful assembly. Somber protests continued at the Minneapolis intersection were Floyd was killed and a group remained after the curfew time came and went.
On June 3, 2020, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who four days earlier took over the case against the officers involved in Floyd's murder, 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 at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue 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".
On June 4, 2020, some protests continued Thursday as the family of George Floyd held a memorial service for him at North Central University in Minneapolis, about three miles (4.8 km) from where he was killed on May 25. Many state and local officials attended, including governor Walz, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. The service also drew national officials and civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King III, Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as several celebrity figures. A reverent crowd gathered at nearby Elliot Park to listen to a broadcast of the memorial on loudspeakers where free food, groceries, and dry goods were provided.
On June 5, 2020, thousands gathered for a rally at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to honor the life of Floyd and call for police reform measures. Former NBA basketball player Royce White, a featured speaker at the event that brought civil rights organizations and professional athletes together, called for the resignation of police union president Bob Kroll. The protest group marched through the city in the early evening.
Police abolition movement
A march of thousands of protesters in Minneapolis on June 6, 2020, to call for "defunding the police" culminated in a rally at the home Mayor Jacob Frey. The crowd confronted Frey and asked if he supported abolishing the city's police. When he said he did not, the crowd booed him away.
On June 7, at a Powderhorn Park rally organized by Black Visions Collective and several other black-led social justice organizations, nine of the 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council vowed before a large crowd to dismantle the city's police department. The pledge garnered significant attention and considerable political backlash.
The process to amend the city's charter to replace the police department with a Department of Public Safety continued in 2020 and 2021.
End of government mobilization
A multi-agency government command that responded to the riots and unrest demobilized on June 7, 2020. The government response was led by Minnesota Department of Public Safety and had participation of federal agencies, Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and Minnesota State Patrol. The command had provided security for some events, such as the June 4 memorial in Elliot Park, but noted that events leading up to and on June 7 were not violent. The state had pressed 7,123 members of the Minnesota National Guard into duty under the commanded of Major General Jon A. Jensen in the largest deployment in the state's history since World War II.
By early June 2020, Nearly 1,500 property locations in the Twin Cities had been damaged by vandalism, fire, and/or looting, with some buildings reduced to rubble and dozens of others 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. Reports of property destruction reached from Apple Valley to Maple Grove in the metropolitan region. Most of the arrests of demonstrators that later resulted in criminal charges were for acts of property destruction and rioting that occurred by June 1, 2020. Estimates of property damage in the region were upwards of $500 million, making the local unrest in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area the second most destructive in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Local officials estimated that rebuilding damaged business corridors in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region would take 10 years.
During the unrest, many business owners boarded up with plywood panels to cover windows and doors at their properties to prevent looting. Many residents, small business owners, and organization leaders stood guard at their buildings overnight during the heaviest rioting and some intervened to dissuade rioters from destroying property. In the mornings after nights of heavy rioting, hundreds of residents with snow shovels and brooms went to affected areas to clean up trash, graffiti, broken glass, and the remnants of damaged buildings. Residents organized food drives after many convenience stores and grocery stores were destroyed or closed due to the unrest. Vibrant works of street art later appeared all over the Twin Cities on boarded-up buildings and other surfaces that honored George Floyd's memory, contained racial justice themes, and showed community solidarity.
Officials had trouble identifying the people responsible for causing destruction as the peaceful protests transitioned to riots. Law enforcement recovered incendiaries, weapons, and stolen vehicles left in the areas of heated protests. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked 160 separate fires in the days after Floyd's murder—the total did not include adjacent structures were damaged by large fires. The multi-agency law enforcement command center for the Twin Cities announced that 604 protesters had been arrested as of June 2, 2020. Several hundred of those arrested were described as participating in peaceful protests, but were taken into custody at night for violating curfew. People charged with violating curfew faced potential fines of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail. Charges against many who protested peacefully were later dropped.
Analysis of state and federal criminal charges found that disorganized crowds had no single goal or affiliation, many opportunist crowds amassed spontaneously during periods of lawlessness, and that people causing destruction had contradictory motives for their actions. By a year later, federal officials had charged 17 people with for rioting or arson-related crimes and local officials had charged 81 with felonies connected to the unrest. More than half of those charged were described as white Americans who travelled from suburban or rural communities to participate in the unrest, with some motivated to address racial injustice. Commenting on the racial dynamics of those causing destruction and who it affected, the Pioneer Press newspaper said in October 2020, "In St. Paul, the irony of self-proclaimed advocates — many of them white — arriving from outside the city to burn down large strips of ethnic neighborhoods in the name of racial justice hasn’t been lost on residents of the Midway."
At least two deaths occurred as a result of the civil unrest in Minneapolis in 2020. Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year-old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot on May 27 by the owner of the Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry shop who believed he was burglarizing his business. Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a 30-year-old man from Burnsville, Minnesota, died from smoke inhalation and burn injuries from an intentional building fire at the Max It Pawn store in Minneapolis on May 28.
Major areas of civic unrest in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, May 27–29, 2020:
Scenes of protests and looting in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020
Scenes of fires and destruction in Minneapolis, May 29, 2020
Further protests and unrest
George Floyd Square
George Floyd protests first emerged on May 26, 2020, at the East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue intersection where he was murdered the day prior. Residents and activists transformed the street intersection into a memorial site with public art of Floyd and of other racial justice themes. Some activists also held several blocks around the intersection in an occupation protest. The memorial site and occupation of the area, referred as George Floyd Square, persisted in 2021. The street intersection area had been a "continuous site of protest" since the day Floyd was murdered, and in the subsequent year, thousands of people from multiple countries visited the active, ongoing protest and memorial site there. City crews removed cement barricades at the intersection on June 3, 2021, as part of a phased reopening process and vehicular traffic resumed several weeks later on June 20, 2021, after being closed for over a year.
Racial injustice and other police killings
After the initial wave of unrest, protestors continued to seek justice for Floyd and made broader calls to address structural racism in Minnesota, with many protest events part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement. National Public Radio described the protest period in the months after Floyd's murder as the "summer of racial reckoning". A columnist for The European Conservative referred to it as "the long hot summer of 2020", a nod to the long, hot summer of 1967. Law enforcement killings resulted in protests and intermittent civil disorder throughout 2020 and 2021.
Derek Chauvin trial
In 2020 and 2021, several protests were held in Minneapolis that coincided with judicial proceedings and the criminal trial of Derek Chauvin. Local government officials surrounded the Hennepin County Government Center, a downtown Minneapolis courthouse and local government office building, that was the venue for the proceedings with a temporary concrete barrier, metal fencing, and barbed wire in anticipation of civil disorder. Demonstrations grew in size during Chauvin's criminal trial that commenced on March 8, 2021, and concluded on April 19, 2021. The court announced a guilty verdict on April 20, 2021, and several marches and rallies took place afterwards.
One-year anniversary events
Several events were held in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of Floyd's murder. The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Floyd's family, planned marches and rallies in Minneapolis, New York, and Houston for May 23, 2021, and called for two days of virtual activism everywhere in the United States in support of federal police reform legislation.
On May 23, 2021, the Floyd family and civil rights activists led a rally in downtown Minneapolis outside the Hennepin County Government Center building, which was still fortified by fencing installed for the Chauvin trial that concluded a month earlier. Bridgett Floyd, who was George's sister, Al Sharpton, Floyd family Attorney Benjamin Crump were among those who spoke to the crowd of several hundred people. Activists who spoke hoped that Floyd's murder, which had been a catalyst for changing policing policies in the United States, would result in passage of police reform legislation and examination of other officer-involved killings. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter attended the events. A crowd marched through downtown Minneapolis after the rally.
On May 25, 2021, downtown Minneapolis hosted a "George Floyd Inaugural Remembrance: Celebration Of Life" concert, and several events were held at the East 38th and Chicago Avenue street intersection were he was killed. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a statewide moment of silence for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the length of time Chauvin knelt on Floyd, for 1:00 p.m. Said Walz, "George Floyd's murder ignited a global movement and awakened many Minnesotans and people around the world to the systemic racism that our Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color have known for centuries".
Trials of Kueng, Lane, and Thao
Some activists in Minneapolis who were compelled to action by Floyd's murder stated that Chauvin's guilty verdict in April 2021 would not be the end their protest movement. Protests at the conclusion Chauvin's criminal case featured chants of the mantra, "One down, three to go". Alexander, Lane, and Thao—the other three officers at the scene of Floyd's murder—awaited a federal civil rights trial in January 2022 and a state criminal trial in March 2022 for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. Activists believed that justice over Floyd's murder included holding all four officers legally accountable, as well as having policy makers address what they perceived as systemic racism in policing. Several activists pledged to continue protesting until the conclusion of the criminal trials and the civil case against the police officers at the scene of Floyd's murder.
Officials erected security fencing around the Warren E. Burger Federal Building in Saint Paul ahead of the trial of Kueng, Lane, and Thao.
- 2020–2021 United States racial unrest
- 2020 Minneapolis homeless encampments
- George Floyd protests in Minnesota
- History of Minneapolis
- List of civil unrest in Minneapolis–Saint Paul
- Police brutality in the United States
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Arrangement is chronological.
- L. Diavolo, "The Minneapolis Rebellion So Far, According to the People Living It", Teen Vogue, 1 June 2020.
- A. Rome, "The Minneapolis Uprising and the Heavy Stick of Reaction", Hamptom Think, June 2, 2020
- N. Robinson, "In their own words: the protesters at the heart of America's uprising", The Guardian, 6 June 2020.
- L. Navratil, A. Boone, and J. Shiffer, "The siege, evacuation and destruction of a Minneapolis police station", Star Tribune, 11 August 2020.
- "Six months after George Floyd's death, what has changed in Minneapolis". PBS NewsHour. November 25, 2020.
- Kaske, Erika A.; Cramer, Samuel W.; Pena Pino, Isabela; Do, Truong H.; Ladd, Bryan M.; Sturtevant, Dylan T.; Ahmadi, Aliya; Taha, Birra; Freeman, David; Wu, Joel T.; Cunningham, Brooke A. (January 13, 2021). "Injuries from Less-Lethal Weapons during the George Floyd Protests in Minneapolis". The New England Journal of Medicine. 384 (8): 774–775. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2032052. ISSN 0028-4793. PMID 33440082.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul.|
- Bring Me The News: Minneapolis Riots
- City of Minneapolis Office of Emergency Management: Properties damaged during civil unrest, initial report, June 11, 2020
- Hennepin History Museum: Reading the Minneapolis Uprising
- Star Tribune: Video aftermath of rioting, looting (10 June 2020)
- University of Minnesota Libraries: The Minneapolis Uprising