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George Floyd Death: Other Cases of Violence Against Black Americans in US

© REUTERS / Carlos BarriaPeople react as a car burns at the parking lot of a Target store during protests after a white police officer was caught on a bystander's video pressing his knee into the neck of African-American man George Floyd, who later died at a hospital, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 28, 2020
People react as a car burns at the parking lot of a Target store during protests after a white police officer was caught on a bystander's video pressing his knee into the neck of African-American man George Floyd, who later died at a hospital, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., May 28, 2020 - Sputnik International
Protestors have rocked the US for four consecutive nights. Demonstrators are demanding justice for those who have suffered from police brutality, which was catalysed by the death of George Floyd, who died earlier this week after a white officer violently arrested and choked him.

George Floyd was a 46-year-old unarmed African American man who died on Monday 25 May, after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes as Floyd told the officers: "I can't breathe".

He was arrested on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill at a corner shop and for being ‘under the influence’ in the driver’s seat of a car. 

A witness captured a video of Mr. Floyd begging to be freed as the police pinned him to the street and witnesses screamed ‘get off him' before he lost consciousness. He was later pronounced dead in hospital.

Chauvin and his three fellow officers were fired on Tuesday from the Minneapolis Police Department. 

Chauvin was later charged on Friday afternoon with third-degree murder and manslaughter. 

Protests have raged all week in the wake of Floyd’s death, with people calling for an end to police violence and justice for him and other black Americans. They include Breonna Taylor, who was shot and killed in March by police officers in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by a retired law enforcement officer and his son in Georgia while out jogging.

Ahmaud Arbery

On February 23 2020, Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black man, was shot to death while jogging in a neighbourhood outside Brunswick, Georgia, after being pursued by two white men in a pickup truck. 

Neither of his pursuers, a father and son named Gregory, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested or charged with a crime until May, even though Gregory admitted to police that Travis was responsible for the shooting.

Former police detective Gregory McMichael claimed that Arbery resembled a suspect who had committed burglaries in the area but had no evidence.

The pair have now been charged with aggravated assault and murder.

The FBI is currently investigating the shooting of Arbery as a possible hate crime, the Guardian reported on 25 May.

Breonna Taylor

26-year-old Breonna Taylor, a black emergency medical technician (EMT), was shot dead when officers entered her Louisville home early on 13 March as part of a drug investigation.

Police claim they were returning fire after one officer was shot and wounded in the apartment.

A defence attorney for Ms Taylor's boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, says he fired in self-defence because police did not announce themselves and that he believed they were breaking into the home.

Police responded by firing more than 20 times. Taylor was hit by eight rounds.

No drugs were found. Taylor died. Walker was arrested and charged with the attempted murder of a police officer and first-degree assault. Three officers involved were reassigned pending an investigation.

Inspired by the protests for George Floyd, hundreds of the protesters flooded the streets of Louisville, Kentucky, on Thursday night to demand police accountability for the death of Taylor, which resulted in at least seven people being shot, according to Now This News

In a Facebook post Taylor’s sister, Juniyah Palmer, thanked demonstrators for their action but urged them to “not succumb to the levels that we see out of the police.”


Freddie Gray

On April 12, 2015, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested by the Baltimore Police Department and subsequently charged with possessing a knife.

While being transported in a police van, Gray fell into a coma and was taken to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center.

Gray died on April 19, 2015; his death was ascribed to injuries to his spinal cord.

On April 21, 2015, pending an investigation of the incident, six Baltimore police officers were suspended with pay.

The circumstances of the injuries were initially unclear; eyewitness accounts suggested that the officers involved used unnecessary force against Gray during the arrest—a claim denied by all officers involved

After his death, demonstrators took to the streets to protest against the excessive use of force, carrying banners which read ‘Black Lives Matter’. 

On May 1st, 2015, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby stood on the steps of Baltimore’s City Hall to announce criminal charges against six police officers, an unheard-of demand for police accountability. But over the next two years, four trials ended in defeat for the prosecution, the remaining charges were dropped, and many leaders in Baltimore retired, quit, or were fired. 

Michael Brown

On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr, an 18-year-old African American man, was fatally shot by 28-year-old white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the city of Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.

Brown and his 22-year-old friend Dorian Johnson had left a convenience store. CCTV footage was later released by police showing Brown stealing cigarillos.

Wilson, who was in his police vehicle, ordered the pair to move onto the sidewalk and noticed Brown fitted the description of a suspect in a convenience store theft. After calling his colleagues, Wilson moved his car to block the pair in the road.

While Wilson was seated in his car, he and Brown engaged in a scuffle and the teenager attempted to grab his gun. Wilson then fired two shots from inside the vehicle - one of which hit Brown's hand.

As the teenager ran from the scene, Wilson left his car and chased him.

However, Brown’s next movements were hotly contested. In a grand jury testimony, Wilson defended shooting the teenager by saying that he had charged towards him through gunfire “like I wasn’t even there”.

Some witnesses initially said that Brown put his hands up in a sign of surrender before Wilson shot him.

However, the facts became muddied and the same witnesses said that Brown held his hands up before moving towards the officer, according to a Justice Department report published earlier this year.

Brown died at the scene, where his body laid for four and a half hours.

This event ignited unrest in Ferguson. Although a subsequent FBI investigation found that there was no evidence that Brown had his hands up in surrender or said "don't shoot" before he was shot, protesters believed that he had done so and used the slogan "Hands up, don't shoot" in protest.

On March 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting, concluding that Wilson shot Brown in self-defence.

Brown’s death sparked the Black Lives Matter Movement, which campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.

Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody.

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