George Floyd’s death continues to resonate, with Minneapolis protests growing in intensity; Donald Trump has since chosen to respond with violent rhetoric.
The tragic murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, has sparked what’s starting to feel like a revolution. Though the four police officers involved in Floyd’s death were all fired, neither Chauvin or the other three were charged for their involvement.
And while the public — including a declaration in favor of criminal charges from Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey — has demanded that Chauvin be charged with murder, Hennepin County attorney Mike Hennepin has already hinted that “evidence that does not support criminal charges.” As such, the tension of whether or not justice will indeed be served has driven many to take extreme action.
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What began as a protest against police brutality has since escalated into a full-blown riot. Buildings and businesses have been burned to the ground. A local police station was forced to evacuate; it was later set ablaze. Mayor Frey, who has remained sympathetic to the protestors’ cause, has implored they stop the wanton destruction. “It’s not just enough to do the right thing yourself,” he cautioned. “We need to be making sure that all of us are held accountable.”
Meanwhile, Donald Trump has been watching the situational unfold from afar, incapable of instilling calm in a dire time of need. Instead, he opted for his preferred iron-fisted approach, branding Mayor Frey as “weak” and going so far as to fire off a racially-charged warning. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen,” he tweeted, earlier this morning. “Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
It’s unclear as to whether the President understood the connotation behind his ominous final warning. Originally uttered in 1967 by Miami police chief Walter Headley, the severe message was used to strike fear during the Civil Rights movement. As unrest grew in the late sixties, so did the willingness to riot in retaliation. In response, Headley set his sights on “young hoodlums, from 15 to 21, who have taken advantage of the civil rights campaign.” An article from NBC News highlights an archived report, in which he declared: “We don’t mind being accused of police brutality.”
Amidst growing tension between the President and Twitter, a platform with which he clearly holds a love-hate relationship, the social media giant took yet another stance against Trump’s rhetoric. Not long after flagging one of his Tweets for fact-checking, they also censored his destined-to-be infamous “looting/shooting” Tweet as a direct violation of their terms and services.
At this moment, the situation in Minneapolis shows little sign of de-escalating. Given the unsettling comments from county attorney Mike Hennepin, it seems like a realistic possibility that Chauvin does not get charged – should that be the case, one has to wonder about the response. The fallout of the destruction in Minneapolis can be seen throughout social media. George Floyd’s memory should not be forgotten in these times; his family will never stop carrying the weight of his death. Rest in peace to George Floyd.