At least 10,000 people have been arrested across the United States amid the ongoing demonstrations demanding justice for George Floyd, the unarmed black man who died on May 25th in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota while being restrained and pleading “please, I cannot breathe.” According to the autopsy, Floyd died of "asphyxiation from sustained pressure."
During the arrest, he was pinned to the ground, with his back and neck being compressed by four Minneapolis police officers. The pressure cut off blood flow to his brain. The medical examiner's office reported "cardiopulmonary arrest” as the cause of death (meaning Floyd's heart failed). Either way, Floyd’s death sparked widespread outrage across the United States and worldwide. Demonstrations against police violence and racial injustice devolved into unrest and intensified, with police cars being burned, some of the country's major cities instituting curfews and deploying the National Guard in the hopes of maintaining order.
At least one person was killed and at two more shots since the protests erupted. Police in large cities like Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, or Dallas and Houston, Texas, have arrested hundreds of people, with 1,500 arrests in New York and at least 2,700 (over a quarter of the total) in LA alone.
More than 7,200 arrests in one weekend
Over the last weekend of May, police across 43 cities big and small made more than 7,200 arrests in connection with civil unrest linked to the protests. Charges included burglary, arson, theft, aggravated assault, rioting, criminal mischief, looting, burglary, arson, defacing public property, violation of curfew order, assault, and assault to a peace officer.
Nearly 500 arrests were made in Twin Cities, 700 people were detained in Chicago (on Sunday alone) and over 1,200 people were arrested in New York City. In Minnesota, 150 people were detained Sunday and early Monday for defying the 8 p.m. curfew. The Dallas Police Department arrested 15 people on charges of vandalizing buildings and another 74 over “inciting a riot.”
In just four days, the Denver Police Department made 276 arrests, with 237 people cited for curfew violations, 10 for “dangerous weapons” violations, another 6 detained for carrying rocks or “missiles” and one person under arrest for arson. Other charges included disturbing the peace, obstructing traffic, stealing, and failing to obey orders from law enforcement, stealing, or disturbing the peace. Moreover, on Saturday evening, a car crashed into a Denver police vehicle, causing severe injuries to a civilian and three officers.
Over 3,000 arrests in Los Angeles
Los Angeles has the most arrests so far, with LAPD officers reporting over 1,600 arrests for vandalism, looting, and curfew violations from Friday (29th) through Sunday (31st).
- Saturday night, 533 protesters were arrested in Beverly Hills and the Fairfax District.
- Sunday, 75 were arrested in Long Beach.
- On Monday, 30 were arrested in Van Nuys, and 150 arrests made for vandalism, looting, and curfew violations in Hollywood.
- In Santa Monica, police arrested over 400 people.
The majority of the 3,000 arrests made in Los Angeles County were for non-violent offenses such as failure to disperse or breaking curfew (2,500 in the city of LA alone, where another 200 people were detained for looting and acts of vandalism).
In order to process the overwhelming number of people in custody, the police used the at the University of California’s Jackie Robinson baseball stadium in Los Angeles.
Police chiefs in many cities, including in Minneapolis and Cleveland, have attributed at least some of the lawlessness to outside agitators. Knowing most officers would be deployed where citizens were exercising their First Amendment rights to free speech and assembly, the “outsiders” engaged in outlaw behavior and violent crimes by setting fires, ransacking businesses, and destroying properties.
Santa Monica police detained nearly 400 people who took advantage of the protests and exploited this situation by performing criminal acts. In more than 95% of the cases, the wrongdoers were from out of town and had deliberately come to take advantage of police agencies stretched thin by the ongoing protests. In Cleveland, all 99 of the people arrested over the weekend live in Ohio. In Minneapolis, 47 of the 57 demonstrators arrested through Saturday were Minnesota residents.
All Four Ex-Cops Charged
The officers involved in George Floyd's death have been fired and are now in custody. The officer who pressured Floyd’s neck with his knee for nearly 9 minutes - Derek Chauvin - has been charged with manslaughter and second-degree murder. The other three police officers involved have also been charged with abetting and aiding a second-degree murder and manslaughter.