Minneapolis Protesters Call For Justice Over George Floyd's Death

May 29, 2020
Originally published on May 29, 2020 8:01 am
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The images are stark - police in masks marching down streets in Minneapolis, small fires still burning after violent protests last night. Demonstrators are calling for justice for George Floyd, the black man who died after a white police officer held his knee on Floyd's neck as he gasped for air. The protests spread beyond Minneapolis. This is sound from New York last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Say his name.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Who'd they kill?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Who'd they kill?

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Say his name

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: George Floyd.

MARTIN: And across the country in Denver.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.

MARTIN: In Louisville, hundreds of people collected, demanding justice for another life lost at the hands of police, Breonna Taylor. But we focus now on Minneapolis, where protesters set fire to a police precinct last night. And this morning, a black CNN correspondent and his crew were arrested live on television while covering the protests. This after a tweet from President Trump encouraging police violence against demonstrators. NPR's Adrian Florido is in Minneapolis and joins us now. Adrian, can you just tell us what's going on? I mean, what's the situation this morning?

ADRIAN FLORIDO, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel. Yeah. This morning, state police have sort of retaken control of the area around this police precinct that was set on fire last night. Right now, there are lines and lines and lines of police officers sort of making a very sort of heavy show of their force and their presence around this police precinct. Last night, it was a much different scene. Hundreds of people, possibly thousands of people, watching this police precinct burn, this police precinct which had become a symbol of the police power that they feel is responsible for George Floyd's death, and also a symbol of the broader tortured relationship between police and all black Americans.

And here, it was burning. And there was not a single police officer or firefighter on the scene last night. Officials just let the building burn. The mayor had said in a late-night press conference that he'd pulled personnel from that precinct because he hadn't wanted to risk more violence between police and protesters. Clearly, the scene has changed this morning, though.

MARTIN: You were there last night. You watched as this precinct building burned. What were people telling you?

FLORIDO: Well, there were some people I spoke with in the crowd who were conflicted by what they were seeing. But by and large, you know, in this crowd, people were happy to see this police building burning. I spoke to a woman named Zamzem Vara (ph). And I want you to listen to what she said.

ZAMZEM VARA: That's what they get. Y'all knew better. Y'all knew the consequences of doing what y'all did. That's what you get, period. I don't feel bad them. They don't feel bad for George? [Expletive] them.

FLORIDO: Now, I also spoke to a young man named Chavez Cook (ph). And listen to him.

CHAVEZ COOK: This is how our people react when - you know what I'm saying? - when we've been done wrong for so long. So me, I'm just praying and hoping everybody make it home safe.

FLORIDO: People told me that these protests had become about more than George Floyd, that they're about this long history of police brutality. That said, people do still want the four officers involved in Floyd's death to be arrested and charged with murder.

MARTIN: Is that likely to happen? I mean, there are these investigations. Do we know anything about where they're focused?

FLORIDO: So local and federal prosecutors announced a press conference yesterday. A lot of people had expected or hoped that they would come out and announce arrests and charges. That did not happen. Instead, they said they need time to do a very thorough investigation. They did not give a timeline for that investigation. That frustrated a lot of people and may have driven more people out into the streets last night.

MARTIN: I mean, there's obviously so much pain there, so much frustration and chaos. I mean, I have to think that officials are not expecting this to stop, right? Are they preparing for more protests into the weekend?

FLORIDO: It seems like there will be protests for at least the next couple of days. People say they don't plan on staying inside until these officers are arrested.

MARTIN: NPR's Adrian Florido in Minneapolis covering this story. Thank you.

FLORIDO: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.