Protests turned to violence and looting in Minneapolis on Wednesday, as outrage grew over the death of George Floyd – a black man who died after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes.
“I can’t breathe…”
Video of the incident, captured by Darnella Frazier, begins with Floyd groaning and repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” to the officer who has his knee on the man’s neck.
“Please,” the man pleads. “I can’t breathe,” and continues to moan.
“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. … (I need) water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. … I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”
Local Minneapolis media figure Andrew Lee talked to the Hammer and Nigel Show Thursday afternoon about the riots that erupted in his city Wednesday night.
“What you saw on the media coverage and live streams was only a fraction of how bad it really got here,” said Lee. In just one area, an entire city block was completely disseminated as though a series of bombings had taken place – gutted buildings, smoke and fire everywhere, not a single window intact, and entire businesses completely destroyed.”
He continued: “The Target was looted and burned, the grocery stores were looted, the auto repair shops were looted. It was complete and utter chaos and it was a tragedy what happened here last night.”
Protests Turn to Violence and Looting…
Lee said outrage and anger grew throughout the day as news emerged that two of the Minneapolis officers seen in the George Floyd tape have a history of conduct complaints on their records.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer caught on camera kneeling on the neck of George Floyd as he gasped for air, has been the subject of a 10 conduct complaints and three police shootings that led to no disciplinary action during his 19 years on the job.
Tou Thao, the second officer seen in the video, has a record that includes allegations of police brutality and a lawsuit.
According to Lee, “[The anger] just escalated and escalated until it reached that point of a perfect storm where you had a lot of people who were wanted their voices to be heard but were protesting peacefully, and then you had opportunistic criminals.”
Lee said it was important to draw a distinction between the two groups.
“I think this is something that was genuine and heartfelt in the beginning of the protests, and then the situation was taken advantage of by bad people.”
Lee added that local government officials unintentionally escalated the chaos earlier in the day through “permissive language” and immediate public condemnation of the officers involved in George Floyd’s death prior to an investigation.
“We had Keith Ellison – the Attorney General of the state – telling police officers preemptively to ‘go easy on the protesters’ and not arrest any of them,” said Lee. “That it permissive language that essentially tells protestors, ‘Okay, you can do what you want.'”
Lee also voiced criticism of Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar’s daughter, Isra Hirsi, who helped spread around a list of supplies needed for the rioters Wednesday night.
“Elected officials should not be doing things that encourage unlawfulness and spark further outrage.”
Click below to hear Hammer and Nigel’s full interview with Minneapolis media figure Andrew Lee.