What to know about the death of George Floyd and how to help


Update, June 25, 2021: After a tumultuous trial, Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis cop who killed George Floyd after pressing his knee against the man’s neck, is officially heading for a long stay in prison. The court sentenced Chauvin to 22.5 years following his conviction in April 2021, in which the trial was broadcast live and watched nationwide. A 12-person jury announced the verdict: Chauvin was found guilty of all counts, including unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

The 45-year-old former police officer could be paroled after serving two-thirds of his sentence, according to the AP, which means he could serve a total of around 15 years. Floyd’s family and prosecutor Matthew Frank had fought for a 30-year sentence, calling the murder “nine and a half minutes of cruelty to a man who was helpless and begged just for his life.”

Original post, last updated October 7, 2020: On Monday, May 25, George Floyd, 46, died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him to the ground and knocked his knee into his neck as Floyd begged for help and repeated that he couldn’t breathe. Officers reportedly responded to “a report of a counterfeit bill being passed” when they located and handcuffed Floyd, who was pronounced dead at Hennepin County Medical Center.


The disturbing interaction was caught on camera and quickly shared online, and all four officers involved in the incident were fired. On October 7, Derek Chauvin, the former officer who pinned Floyd with his knee, was released from prison while awaiting trial for second degree murder and manslaughter. Chauvin had been in Hennepin County Jail since his arrest on May 29 and posted $ 1 million bail. The New York Times reported that Chauvin used a surety agency for the transaction.

“The technique that was used is not licensed; it is not a technique our officers are trained in,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. “And our leader was very clear on this piece. There is no reason to put that kind of pressure with a knee on someone’s neck.”

Stephane MatureGetty Images


Stephane MatureGetty Images

The other three officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death are Thomas Lane and JA Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who watched events nearby.

Benjamin Crump, a lawyer for the Floyd family, told CNN in June that he felt “confident that these officers will be charged before the people of Minneapolis bid their final farewell to George Floyd, may he rest in peace.” , referring to a planned public memorial in the city the next day. Under Minnesota law, third degree murder carries a sentence of up to 25 years and is considered when a person causes someone’s death “without intent.” Second degree murder carries a sentence of up to 40 years.

Separate autopsies from experts hired by Floyd’s family and the Hennepin County medical examiner both concluded his death was a homicide, according to CNN. However, the two entities differed over the cause of the homicide. The independent autopsy said Floyd died of “sustained pressure asphyxiation” when his neck and back were squeezed by Minneapolis officers during the arrest. This means that the pressure has cut off the blood flow to his brain.

But the medical examiner’s office said Floy’s cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement, restraint and neck compression.” This means Floyd’s heart has failed and their release indicates heart disease was a factor in his death, with no mention of asphyxiation. The independent reviewer found no signs of heart disease.

For weeks after Floyd’s death, protesters flocked to the streets of Minneapolis near the site where Floyd was arrested, chanting Floyd’s words from the video: “I can’t breathe.” The sentence is also a direct reminder of the death of Eric Garner, who said the same words in 2014, after being held in suffocation by police in New York. Garner was later pronounced dead in a hospital.

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Protesters in Minneapolis were greeted with tear gas and rubber bullets – a stark contrast to how police recently responded to white protesters who protested for states to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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On May 27, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz tweeted that the protests had become “extremely dangerous” and urged people to leave. The next day, Walz declared state of emergency and activated the state national guard. During the week people looted shops and at one point set up a police station on the fire.

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While covering the protests in late May, a team of CNN journalists were arrested by state police live on television after identifying themselves as a member of the media. The crew has since been released from police custody.

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Lawyer Benjamin Crump, who currently represents Floyd’s family, tweeted: “The #GeorgeFloyd family thanks all the protesters for joining them in standing up for JUSTICE. They know we are all suffering and any decent human being who watches the video of the police killing their Gentle Giant will also feel short of breath. ” Crump is a civil rights lawyer who also represents the families of Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot and killed in a race in Georgia, and Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed by police in her Kentucky apartment.

If you’re looking for ways to speak out against Floyd’s death, help his family, or learn about the history of systemic racism and police violence in the United States, consider:

  • Donate to the memorial fund that George Floyd’s family set up. The GoFundMe page also includes an address where anyone can send cards or contributions.
  • Support organizations working on the ground in Minneapolis, including the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which provides bonding for low-income people; Black Visions Collective, who works to organize black communities in Minnesota; Reclaim the Block, which works to transfer money from the police department to other parts of the city that promote health and safety; and the North Star Health Collective, which provides health care services and resources to protesters.
  • Helping protesters with legal fees and bailout funds and supporting organizations such as the Know Your Rights Camp founded by Colin Kaepernick, the Brooklyn Bail Fund, the Bail Project, the National Bail Fund Network, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the ‘ACLU, the Atlanta Solidarity Fund, and Free them all for public health
  • Support the GoFundMe for Tony McDade, the transgender man killed in Florida on May 27.
  • Contact the Mayor of Minneapolis and the Hennepin County District Attorney at 612-673-2100 and 612-348-5550, respectively. You can also email the attorney at citizeninfo@hennepin.us, or contact the Minneapolis Police Department at police@minneapolismn.gov.
  • Continue to educate yourself, speak out against injustice and develop your work against racism. Writers and activists Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein have compiled a resource document, if you need a place to start. There are also several lists of anti-racist books, including this and that.
  • Sign a petition to demand that the police officers involved be charged.
  • Talk to your kids about what’s going on. There are great resources on The Conscious Kid and Teach and Transform.
  • Learn more about George Floyd and how his friends and family remember him. A friend, Vanita Williams, told BuzzFeed News: “He was articulate. He was grounded. He was spiritual. He was an athlete. He was an organizer. He was a comforter. He was an encouragement.”

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