From top, left to right: Protesters gathered in downtown Minneapolis, a protester standing on a damaged police vehicle, protesters with raised fists outside the Minneapolis Police's 3rd Precinct, protesters overtaking and burning the precinct, protesters confronting police, armored police with military accompaniment, and demonstrators on a torched street with firefighters working in the background.
Protests quickly spread across the United States and internationally in support of Black Lives Matter. Demonstrations that began on May 26 in Louisville, Kentucky, over the shooting of Breonna Taylor by police officers on March 13 intensified after the May 28 release of the 911 call made by her boyfriend in the moments after the shots were fired. The Louisville protests have continued as part of the nationwide reaction to George Floyd's death and the subsequent police shooting of David McAtee in Louisville during these protests on June 1. At least twelve major cities declared a curfew on the evening of Saturday, May 30, and as of June 2, governors in 24 states and Washington, D.C, had called in the National Guard, with over 17,000 troops activated. From the beginning of the protests to June 3, at least 11,000 people had been arrested, including all four police officers responsible for the arrest resulting in the death of George Floyd. The mass protests occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic and health experts as well as political public authorities warned that the protests will likely facilitate an accelerated or rebounding spread of COVID-19 or become a "seeding event" for further coronavirus outbreaks.
Measures taken against the growing COVID-19 pandemic, including closure of non-essential businesses and implementation of a stay-at-home order, had significant economic and social impact on many Americans as millions lost their jobs and were made more economically vulnerable.Keith Ellison, Attorney General of Minnesota, said he was of the opinion that people "have been cooped up for two months, and so now they're in a different space and a different place. They're restless. Some of them have been unemployed, some of them don't have rent money, and they're angry, they're frustrated."
On May 25, 2020, at 8:08p.m. CDT,Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) officers responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding a "forgery in progress" on Chicago Avenue South in Powderhorn, Minneapolis. MPD Officers Thomas K. Lane and J. Alexander Kueng arrived with their body worn cameras activated and running. The officers learned from store personnel that the man who passed the counterfeit money was in a nearby car. Officers approached the car and ordered George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, who according to police "appeared to be under the influence," to exit the vehicle, at which point he "physically resisted." According to the MPD, officers "were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance." Once Floyd was handcuffed, he and Officer Lane walked to the sidewalk. Floyd sat on the ground at Officer Lane's direction. In a short conversation officer asked Floyd for his name and identification, explaining that he was arrested for passing counterfeit currency and asking if he was "on anything". Officers Kueng and Lane stood Floyd up and attempted to walk him to their squad car, but at 8:14 p.m. Floyd stiffened up and fell to the ground. Floyd told the officers he was claustrophobic. Soon, MPD Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thoa arrived in a separate squad car. The officers made several attempts to get Floyd in the backseat of squad car from the driver's side. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still.
Floyd, who was still handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer Kueng held Floyd's back and Lane held his legs. Chauvin placed his left knee in the area of Floyd's head and neck. A Facebook Livelivestream recorded by a bystander showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck. Floyd repeatedly tells Chauvin "Please" and "I can't breathe", while a bystander is heard telling the police officer, "You got him down. Let him breathe." After some time, a bystander points out that Floyd was bleeding from his nose while another bystander tells the police that Floyd is "not even resisting arrest right now," to which the police tell the bystanders that Floyd was "talking, he's fine." A bystander replies saying Floyd "ain't fine." A bystander then protests that the police were preventing Floyd from breathing, urging them to "get him off the ground ... You could have put him in the car by now. He's not resisting arrest or nothing." Floyd then goes silent and motionless. Chauvin does not remove his knee until an ambulance arrives. Emergency medical services put Floyd on a stretcher. Not only had Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for about seven minutes (including four minutes after Floyd stopped moving) but another video showed an additional two officers had also knelt on Floyd while another officer watched.
Medics were unable to detect a pulse, and Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy of Floyd was conducted on May 26, and the next day, the preliminary report by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office was published, stating "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." Floyd's underlying health conditions included coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The initial report said that "[t]he combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death." The medical examiner further said Floyd was "high on fentanyl and had recently used methamphetamine at the time of his death." However, on June 1, a private autopsy commissioned by the family of Floyd ruled the death a homicide and found that Floyd had died due to asphyxiation from sustained pressure, which conflicts with the original autopsy report done earlier that week. Shortly after, the official post-mortem declared Floyd's death a homicide. Video footage of the incident generated global attention and raised questions about the appropriate use of force by law enforcement.
Cities in the contiguous US and Canada with George Floyd protests with more than 100 participants. Minneapolis–Saint Paul is marked in red. Click the map to view a larger size and to see protests outside the frame. (
The protests spread to over four hundred cities and towns in all fifty states as well as in other countries, with demonstrators supporting those seeking justice for Floyd and the wider Black Lives Matter movement, and speaking out against police brutality. The vast majority of demonstrations have been peaceful, but there have been instances of rioting, violence and police brutality. The wave of protests has been compared to the long, hot summer of 1967 and the King assassination riots, both of which saw riots in over a hundred cities across the United States.
As of June 2, 2020, at least 17 people have died during the protests. 16 of the casualties died of gunshot wounds:
On May 27 in Minneapolis, Calvin Horton Jr. died after being fatally shot during a protest. A local shopowner was arrested, and police sources claimed that Horton was involved in looting of his store.
On May 30 in Oakland, amid unrest, a Federal Protective Service officer, David Patrick Underwood, was fatally shot outside a federal courthouse in a drive-by attack that also wounded another guard. At the time of the shooting, Underwood was providing security at the courthouse during a protest. The Department of Homeland Security has labeled the shooting an act of domestic terrorism. The FBI is investigating but had not yet identified a motive or a suspect as of May 31. Although initially the police were not sure that the shooting was connected to the protests, on June 2, investigators stated they now believed the attackers were targeting uniformed officers, but who carried out the attack is not clear so far.
On May 30 in St. Louis, 29-year-old protester Barry Perkins died after being run over by a FedEx truck that was fleeing from looters.
On May 30 in Omaha, 22-year-old protester James Scurlock was fatally shot outside of a bar. The shooter was the owner of the bar, who had a scuffle with a group of protesters and ended up firing several shots, one of which struck Scurlock in the clavicle, killing him. Two days later, it was announced by authorities that there will be no charges for the bar's owner and that he had opened fire in self-defense.
On May 31 in Indianapolis, two people were fatally shot in the vicinity of protests or riots in downtown. One of them was 18-year-old Dorian Murell, killed around 2:30 am June 1; a man was arrested and charged with the shooting on June 2. The other was 38-year-old Chris Beatty, a local business owner, who was shot shortly before midnight May 31.
On May 31 in Kansas City, Missouri, 50-year-old Marvin Francois was shot and killed by robbers while picking up one of his sons from a protest.
On June 1 in Louisville, local restaurateur David McAtee was killed as a Louisville Metro Police and Kentucky National Guard curfew patrol fired at him. Authorities allege that the patrol returned gunfire after McAtee fired at them. However, McAtee's alleged gunshot occurred after the patrol appeared to fire a pepper ball into McAtee's restaurant, nearly striking his niece in the head. According to the victim's sister, the gathering was not a protest but rather a regularly scheduled social gathering at which McAtee served food from his barbecue restaurant. An investigation of the killing is ongoing. LMPD Chief Steve Conrad was fired later that day, as officers and troops involved in the shooting did not wear or failed to activate body cameras. Louisville mayor Greg Fischer admitted that the city had shown an “inability to apply [curfew] evenly.”
On June 1 in Davenport, Iowa, two people were fatally shot on a night with significant rioting. One of the victims was the 22-year-old Italia Marie Kelly in an apparent random shooting as she was leaving a demonstration. A Facebook Live video spread online in which Kelly's sister emotionally denounced the protesters for shooting and killing her sister. One police officer was wounded during a shooting into an occupied police cruiser; a fleeing vehicle crashed during a police chase and several people have been arrested.
On June 1 in Cicero, Illinois, two men were fatally shot in separate incidents following an "afternoon of unrest"; this was confirmed by Cicero Police. Town spokesman Ray Hanania said the shots were fired by "outside agitators." The two men were both described as bystanders and were identified as 28-year-old Jose Gutierrez and 27-year-old Victor Cazares Jr.
On June 1 in Las Vegas, police shot and killed Jorge Gomez. Gomez was walking among protesters as a demonstration was coming to an end and reportedly reached for his firearm when he was shot.
On June 2 in Philadelphia, during the fourth day of unrest, a 24-year-old man was severely injured after attempting to use an explosive device to destroy an ATM machine. He was rushed to a local hospital before being pronounced dead.
On June 2 in St. Louis, 77-year-old retired police captain David Dorn was shot and killed by looters at a pawn shop. The shooting was reportedly streamed on Facebook live.
On June 2 in Vallejo, California, Sean Monterrosa, a 22-year-old man, was shot and killed by police while on his knees. Monterrosa lifted his hands up, which revealed a 15-inch hammer tucked in his pocket that was mistaken for a handgun. A police officer then fired on Monterrosa five times through his windshield. He later died at a local hospital. Monterrosa was killed by police who were responding to a call of an alleged looting at a Walgreens, as described by police chief Shawny Williams. The day after his death police revealed that "there had been an 'officer-involved shooting'" at a press conference, yet declined to offer specifics on whether it was fatal and who was involved. The name of the officer involved was not released. The event reportedly sparked intense outrage in the Bay Area, particularly in Vallejo, which was identified as having a long history of police violence, excessive force complaints, and high-profile killings including the shooting of Willie McCoy.
The death of a 21-year-old man on May 29 in Detroit was reported as a possible part of the unrest, but police investigation determined the killing had no connection to the protests. The man was killed when his car was shot at amid protests.
The mass protests occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic and health experts warned that the protests will likely facilitate an accelerated or rebounding spread of COVID-19. On June 4, CDC Director Robert Redfield warned lawmakers that the protests could be a "seeding event" for more coronavirus outbreaks.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz expressed worries over a spike in COVID-19 cases. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shared similar worries describing the protests as "inherently dangerous in the context of this pandemic." He also stated that people have the right to protest but that they don't have the "right to infect other people," or the "right to act in a way that's going to jeopardize public health." Later he stated that he would recommend assuming exposure to the virus if one has attended a protest and announced that the state is opening COVID-19 testing facilities to all people who were at a protest.Mayor of Washington, D.C.Muriel Bowser stated that "We've been working hard to not have mass gatherings. As a nation, we have to be concerned about rebound." Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stated that "I am extremely concerned when we're seeing mass gatherings. We know what's happening in our community with this virus," She also said "If you were out protesting last night, you probably need to go get a Covid test this week." Maryland Governor Larry Hogan shared a similar sentiment, saying that "There's no questions that when you put hundreds or thousands of people together in close proximity when we've got this virus all over the streets is not healthy." The use of tear gas may increase the spread of the virus due to coughing and lung damage. Shouting and speaking loudly, which are common to both violent and non-violent protests, may also cause infections at distances greater than 6 feet (1.8 m). The problems inherent to mass gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic have been communicated widely and were a rationale for measures such as lockdowns before the protests. Irish doctors have issued a stark warning against mass gatherings and asked people to exercise judgement.
Philadelphia MayorJim Kenney requested that citizens protest according to social distancing guidelines. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo asked for citizens to protest wearing masks to prevent spread of the disease. Minnesota's governor stated that "too many" protesters weren't applying physical person-to-person distances or wearing masks. Some police officers also weren't adhering to protective rules and norms such as wearing masks. Floyd's family encouraged those attending the official public memorial to do so wearing masks and gloves. Experts have mixed views of the potential efficacy of properly used, non-N95 masks and note that using a face mask does not warrant stopping other protective practices such as keeping sufficient physical distance from others.Ashish Jha, the director of the global health institute at Harvard's TH Chan School of public believes that masks are a critical part of protesting safely and in accordance to COVID-19 guidelines. Theodore Long, a doctor affiliated with New York's contact tracing strategy, echoed Jha's point as well as advocating for attendants to "practice proper hand hygiene and to the extent possible, socially distance."
Preventive measures against COVID-19 such as social distancing and the avoidance of mass gatherings are meant to not only protect the individual employing these measures from the virus but also – possibly more importantly – to protect society and others – especially at-risk groups – from contracting the virus or being unable to get sufficient, life-saving treatment.[better source needed] An Oklahoma State football player tweeted that he has tested positive for COVID-19 "after attending a protest in Tulsa AND being well protective of myself." In Columbus, Ohio, the first case of a protester testing positive for COVID-19 was announced on June 3. The person had been attending protests in the city's downtown, despite feeling coronavirus symptoms prior to attending.
Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under President Donald Trump said that "There's going to be a lot of issues coming out of what's happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings."Megan Ranney, an emergency room physician and researcher at Brown University called for people to examine the racial disparities of the COVID-19 spread and their relation to the protests. The mortality due to COVID-19 was expected and shown to be higher among African Americans as this population is starting out with health outcomes that are disproportionately poor.
Violence and controversies
Miami protesters react to police firing chemical irritants on May 30 (top); Arrests in New York City, May 30
There have been numerous reports and videos of aggressive police actions using physical force as well as "batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked." These incidents have provoked "growing concern that aggressive law enforcement tactics intended to impose order were instead inflaming tensions." Police responded that such tactics are necessary to prevent vandalism and arson, and that police officers themselves have been assaulted with thrown rocks and water bottles. In response to the violence, Amnesty International issued a press release calling for the police to end excessive militarized responses to the protests.
Two New York City Police Department (NYPD) vehicles were recorded ramming into protesters surrounding and throwing objects at the vehicles;New York City mayorBill de Blasio defended the officers' actions and an investigation into the event was initiated. Another NYPD police officer was recorded throwing down a female protester with both hands while allegedly calling her a "stupid fucking bitch." The protester was hospitalized after the assault and claims to have suffered a seizure. An NYPD officer approached a protester, ripped off the protester's mask, and pepper-sprayed the protester in the face. The NYPD has said it is investigating the incident. An officer in Salt Lake City pushed an unarmed elderly man walking with a cane to the ground.
On May 30, multiple incidents of police violence occurred during protests. One video was posted online showing police officers in Minnesota ordering residents on their porches to go inside and after a few demands, they fired paint rounds at the residents after shouting "Light 'em up!"
In Atlanta, two police officers broke the windows of a vehicle, pulled a woman out of the car and tased a man. The two victims were identified as Taniyah Pilgrim and Messiah Young. The two police officers were fired after a video showed them using "excessive force." Arrest warrants were issued for four other officers involved. One of officers explained in a police report that the actions were taken under the belief that either Pilgrim or Young were armed. Young's attorney Mawuli Davis Pilgrim called this explanation as an "attempt to assassinate the character of these young people." Pilgrim described it as "the worst experience of my life," and Young was seen wearing a cast on his arm at a press conference on Tuesday. On 3 June the two officers were charged alongside four other officers involved in the violence, for using excessive force during an arrest.
A woman participating in a protest in La Mesa, California was shot by the police with a non-lethal bean-bag round between her eyes. At a protest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a viral video showed Grand Rapids Police pepper spraying a protester and then immediately firing a tear gas canister into their head. The Grand Rapids Police Department announced on June 2 that they would conduct an internal investigation on the incident.
In Seattle, an officer placed his knee on the back of the neck of a looting suspect; after onlookers shouted for him to remove his knee from the man's neck his partner pulled it off. The Seattle Office of Police Accountability received about 12,000 individual complaints regarding the police department's conduct during that weekend, including complaints about "[p]epper spraying a young girl," "[p]unching a person on the ground who was being arrested," "[p]lacing a knee on the neck area of two people who had been arrested," "[f]ailing to record law enforcement activity on body-worn video," and "[breaking] windows of a Target store."
Protestor in Minneapolis after being hit in face with tear gas
On May 31, 20-year-old African American Texas State University student Justin Howell was shot in the head with a less lethalbean bag round by an APD officer while protesting outside the police headquarters in Austin, Texas. Chief of Police Brian Manley stated that they were aiming at another protester and shot Howell by mistake. Fellow protesters were instructed by police to carry the injured Howell toward them for medical aid, however, those protesters were then also fired upon by police. Howell was left in critical condition, with a fractured skull and brain damage.
On June 2, 22-year-old Latino protester Sean Monterrosa was shot and killed with five bullets by a police officer. Monterrosa was on his knees with his hands up. When he lifted his hands, a 15-inch (38 cm) hammer tucked in his pocket was revealed, which was mistaken for a handgun.
Police have attacked medical workers and destroyed medical equipment.
On, June 4, police shot tear gas at an unarmed couple waiting at a traffic stop in Denver. When the man came out of the vehicle to confront the cops because his pregnant wife was in the vehicle the cops opened fire on him. In Buffalo, a 75-year-old man with a cane was left bleeding from the head after approaching police officers and being shoved to the ground by the police; initially, a police press statement claimed that the man "tripped and fell" which led to further criticism.
On May 30, in Atlanta, around 10:30 p.m., APD officer Maximilian Brewer was struck by an ATV. He was taken to the intensive care unit at Grady Hospital. The driver was identified as 42-year-old Avery Goggans. Three Denver, CO police officers and one civilian were hospitalized after being struck by a vehicle during protests late Saturday night. Driver Anthony Knapp was taken into custody in relation to the incident.
On May 31 Albany, NY protests turned violent and rioters turned "commercial grade fireworks" on police officers. 9 were arrested for charges ranging second-degree riot and second-degree attempted assault to unlawful assembly. 4 of the arrested were from outside of Albany.
In Buffalo, New York, on Monday, June 1, a car rammed a police line near where protesters had gathered. Two officers were seriously injured and subsequently hospitalized, with three people being arrested. 30-year-old Deyanna Davis was arrested. In St. Louis, a Missouri State Trooper responding to a riot was struck by a bullet that lodged in his helmet's face-shield. The Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) shared images of a bullet hole in the shield Tuesday, saying the trooper “narrowly averted serious injury.”
In Lynchburg, Virginia two Lynchburg officers were hospitalized after being assaulted by a crowd of rioters Monday evening. In Davenport, Iowa, at around 3:00 a.m., three Davenport police officers were ambushed by gunfire while on patrol. Two of the officers were injured while the third returned fire. Two civlians in Davenport were shot to death during the same riot in separate shootings.
In St. Louis, four police officers were shot during violent protests just after midnight on Tuesday, June 2. In New York City in the early hours of June 2, two NYPD officers were struck in two separate hit-and-run incidents while responding to looting. The press has described the collisions as "deliberate." In Winchester, Nevada, around 2:00 AM local time, police officer Shay Mikalonis was shot in the head while attempting to disperse rioters on the Las Vegas Strip. The officer remains in critical condition. Edgar Samaniego, a 20-year-old male, was taken into custody.
In Brooklyn, New York, two New York Police Department officers were shot and one was stabbed in the neck while guarding against looting during a protest.
On the night of May 30, a video posted online showed a man being beaten up by a group of protesters in Dallas. According to Fox Business, the man appeared to defend a store and was reportedly armed with a machete and has skirmished with rioters, who were throwing rocks at him. The man was injured, but was able to sit up and was treated at the scene before being taken away in an ambulance, where he was considered to be in a stable condition. President Donald Trump called the act of violence "terrible" and demanded arrests and "long term jail sentences" for protesters. According to protesters, they acted in self-defense, and the video was edited to give "false impression" about protests.
According to BlackSportsOnline.com, Charles Shoultz later claimed to be the man who was attacked by the crowd of protesters, blaming himself for instigating the fight, explaining that he was merely "trying to protect the bar he likes to drink at."Dallas Police said that the incident is part of an ongoing investigation.
U.S. Press Freedom Tracker recorded at least 19 arrests, at least 36 incidents of being shot at, at least 76 assaults, and 10 incidents in which equipment was damaged during the protests. In comparison, the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker documented between 100 and 150 such incidents per year for the past three years. Many journalists described being intentionally targeted by police even after they identified themselves as press. One journalism professor suggested that the unusual aggressiveness toward journalists might relate to President Trump's repeated public attacks on the press as "enemies of the people"; in a May 31 tweet, Trump blamed the "lamestream media" for the protests and said that journalists are "truly bad people with a sick agenda."
Journalists at several protests were injured and arrested by police while trying to cover the story, being shot by rubber bullets, or sprayed by tear gas. As of May 31, Bellingcat has identified and documented at least 50 separate incidents where journalists were attacked by law enforcement officials during the protests. According to Bellingcat, "law enforcement across multiple cities, but especially in Minneapolis, are knowingly and deliberately targeting journalists with less lethal munitions, arrests and other forms of violence."
On the evening of May 28, officers fired pepper bullets at several employees of The Denver Post who were reporting on protests in Denver, Colorado. A photographer was struck twice by pepper bullets, sustaining injuries on his arm. The photographer believed it was not accidental, saying, "If it was one shot, I can say it was an accident. I'm very sure it was the same guy twice. I'm very sure he pointed at me." Another journalist said an officer shot at least one pepper bullet at her feet.
Omar Jiménez, a black LatinoCNN reporter, and his filming crew were arrested while giving a live television report on May 29 in Minneapolis by the Minnesota State Patrol, and then released about an hour later. After the incident took place, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said that he deeply apologizes for what happened and would work to have the crew released, calling the event "unacceptable" and adding that there was "absolutely no reason something like this should happen."
CNN called the arrests a "clear violation of their First Amendment rights" in a tweet posted the same day. After the incident the Minnesota State Patrol tweeted that "In the course of clearing the streets and restoring order at Lake Street and Snelling Avenue, four people were arrested by State Patrol troopers, including three members of a CNN crew. The three were released once they were confirmed to be members of the media," however the CNN crew had already informed the troopers that they were members of the media before and during the arrest and carried the relevant paperwork and identification with them. The Minneapolis Police Department falsely stated both while performing the arrest and via Twitter that his crew had not adequately responded when asked what they were doing.
Linda Tirado, a freelance photo journalist, was hit in the eye with a rubber bullet or a pellet by the police in Minneapolis, and following surgery has been left permanently blind in that eye. Also on May 29 in Louisville, Kentucky, an officer fired pepper bullets at a reporter from NBC affiliate WAVE who was reporting live on air for her station. The station manager issued a statement strongly condemning the incident, saying there was "no justification for police to wantonly open fire."
On May 30, members of a Reuters crew were fired on with rubber bullets in Minneapolis shortly after a curfew they were reporting on began. One reporter was hit in the arm and neck while another was hit in the face, which deflected off his gas mask. Also in Minneapolis, France 2's U.S. correspondent Agnès Varamian said her photojournalist, Fabien Fougère, was hurt by non-lethal bullets as she shouted "press" to the police.Expressen's U.S. correspondent Nina Svanberg was also hit in the leg with rubber bullets. Meanwhile Deutsche Welle journalist Stefan Simons and his team were shot at by police in Minneapolis. In another incident that day, police also threatened to arrest Simons.
Los Angeles Times reporter Molly Hennessy-Fiske reported reporters and camera crews being at the receiving end of tear gas by Minnesota State Patrol, while the same happened to an KABC-TV news crew in Santa Monica. Several Detroit Free Press journalists were pepper sprayed by the city's police, as was KSTP reporter Ryan Raiche along other journalists. Michael Adams from Vice News also reported that happening to him and other journalists present.HuffPost journalist Christopher Mathias was arrested in Brooklyn, as were independent journalist Simon Moya-Smith in Minneapolis, and CNN's Keith Boykin in New York.
A BBC cameraman, Peter Murtaugh, was purposely attacked by police on May 31 outside the White House. Murtaugh filmed a line of police officers charging without warning, whereby a shield-wielding officer tackled Murtaugh to the ground. A fellow BBC journalist stated that the attack had occurred before a curfew was imposed.
In Minneapolis, for the second day in a row, police shot at Deutsche Welle journalist Stefan Simons and his crew.
During a live television broadcast for Seven News covering protests near the White House on June 1, Australian journalist Amelia Brace and cameraman Tim Myers were assaulted by a charging United States Park Police line as the area was cleared for the Donald Trump photo-op at St. John's Church. Brace was clubbed with a police baton while Myers was hit in the chest by a riot shield and then punched. Brace said she and Myers were also shot by rubber bullets. Brace said at the time: "You heard us yelling there that we were media but they don't care, they are being indiscriminate at the moment." In response, the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Australia would launch an investigation into the incident. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended the actions of the police and said they had "a right to defend themselves." Park Police acting Chief Gregory Monahan announced that two officers involved had been assigned to administrative duties while an investigation took place.
On June 2, The Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced that they would be investigating the alleged assault of a Wall Street Journal reporter, that took place on May 31, by members of the New York Police Department.
Rioters break windows in businesses in Saint Paul, Minnesota, May 28 (top); Rioters burning a police car in Pittsburgh on May 30
In Atlanta, the CNN Center, which houses the downtown Atlanta police precinct, was attacked and damaged by protesters on May 29.
In the District of Columbia on May 30, a Fox News crew was attacked outside the White House by a group of protesters while reporting on the scene. The crew was chased for several hundred meters until the police intervened.
Pittsburgh Public Safety said that three local journalists were injured on May 30 when protesters "stomped and kicked" them and destroyed their camera. One said he was rescued by other protesters, reportedly including David Morehouse. He and another were transported to a hospital.
Allegations of foreign involvement
There have been allegations of foreign influence stoking the unrest online, with the role of outside powers being additive rather than decisive as of May 31. The founder and CEO of Graphika, which helped the U.S. Senate form its report on Russian social media influence during the 2016 elections, noted "very active engagement" from account clusters from Russia, Iran, and China, and as of May 31 noted that his team was launching an investigation on the matter of possible foreign influence.
Republican Senator Marco Rubio, the current acting Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, asserted "very heavy" social media activity linked to "at least three foreign adversaries," noting that while they "didn't create these divisions," they are "actively stoking and promoting violence." National security advisor Robert C. O'Brien said that there may be Russian activists who are exploiting the situation, but also, in reference to Chinese officials posting on social media, that the difference is that "[...] it's open. It's coming straight from the government." For instance, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying tweeted "I can't breathe" in response to U.S. State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus's criticism over the situation in Hong Kong. Former national security advisor Susan Rice stated that the violence that was emerging was "right out of the Russian playbook," drawing angry responses from Russian officials with Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova saying that Rice is trying to blame Russia again for the United States' own domestic problems instead of facing her own people.Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied there being any interactions between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump regarding the protests.
Reports of extremist activities
There have been accusations of various extremist groups using the cover of the protests to foment general unrest in the United States. According to CNN, "although interference in this way may be happening, federal and local officials have yet to provide evidence to the public." For instance, there are claims that groups are placing bricks and other materials nearby areas of unrest to escalate protester action; it has also been suggested that these were left by the police.
President Trump and U.S. Attorney GeneralWilliam Barr blamed "far-left extremist" groups, like Antifa, for inciting and organizing violent riots. According to a Justice Department spokesperson, Barr came to this conclusion after being provided with information from state and local law enforcement agencies. On May 31, Trump announced that he planned to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization. Various government and non-government officials have stated that designating domestic terrorist groups is prohibited by the First Amendment and federal law restricting the designation of terrorist organizations to foreign entities due to concerns pertaining to the First Amendment's speech and assembly rights.
During a press conference, Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said he's "willing to bet his check" that "there’s a lot of people who are anarchists" who cause "damage and injury." He added, "It's just a damn shame that they took advantage of the situation, for [...] something [that] happened in another state where somebody died who shouldn't have died, and they hijacked that message for their own." In Pittsburgh, a man was arrested for allegedly starting riots over the weekend that ended in violence. The police chief said that "‘anarchists’ likely hijacked peaceful protests downtown." Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism of the NYPDJohn Miller said there is a high level of confidence within the department that unnamed "anarchist groups" had planned to commit vandalism and violence in advance. On June 3, the Washington Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation cited having "no intelligence indicating Antifa involvement/presence" in violent protests on May 31 in DC.
Far-right and white supremacist involvement
One of the protesters in Columbus, Ohio holds up a poster that reads: "End White Supremacy Now"
On May 29, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz noted then-unconfirmed reports of white supremacists as well as drug cartels taking advantage of the protests. Although reports that all or most of the individuals arrested were not from Minnesota turned out to be false, the presence of white supremacist groups aiming to exploit the protests to incite violence was confirmed the following day by Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington.
On May 30, Minnesota officials including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, Governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter stated they believed that white nationalists were using the protests as cover for inciting violence, and that Minnesota officials were monitoring the ongoing far-right online effort to incite violence. On the other hand, Howard Graves, an analyst at the SPLC stated on May 31 that he did not see clear evidence of "white supremacists or militiamen" heading out to "burn and loot." The University of St. Thomas' Lisa Waldner, an analyst of the American white supremacist and anarchist movements, has noted that the goal of many of the individuals involved in the destruction of Minneapolis was to create chaos so as to pursue their own agendas. White nationalist Facebook groups reportedly began urging members to "get their loot on." In at least 20 cities across the country as of May 31, members of hate groups and far-right organizations filmed themselves at the demonstrations.
Vice and New York University's Reiss Center reported that far-right accelerationists, who aim to exacerbate tensions and speed up the supposed coming of a "civil war," have urged followers online to use the protests as an occasion to carry out violence; an eco-fascistTelegram channel with almost 2500 subscribers posted on the 28th that "a riot would be the perfect place to commit a murder." Analysis by Vice and the New York Times also noted the proliferation of chatter on 4chan hailing the violence as the beginning of a "race war." Such tactics match a long running history of accelerationists exploiting moments of political and/or civil unrest to, in the words of historian Stuart Wexler, "produce racial polarization and eventual retaliation" which would then swell the ranks of whites supporting white supremacist violence, ultimately leading to a race war that they hope will "purify" America through ethnic cleansing. Analogous tactics were used by their ideological forebears in the 1960s, and accelerationist ideas are proliferated on web forums and have inspired various white supremacist acts of violence, being featured also in the manifesto of the perpetrator of the Christchurch massacre.
The presence of Boogaloo Bois, an armed anti-government far-rightextremist movement that seeks a Second American Civil War, noticeable for their Hawaiian shirts, have also been reported at the protests. Administrators of the Facebook page Big Igloo Bois, a splinter of the Boogaloo movement, called for members to attend the protests with one administrator stating, "come in peace, prepare for there to be violence." While some of the Boogaloo Bois have espoused white supremacist views, other groups, such as the Big Igloo Bois, have aimed to make common cause with the Black Lives Matter movement due to their shared mistrust of the police.
According to a Twitter spokesperson, an account pretending to belong to a national “antifa” organization and pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests has been linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, which also calls itself the American Identity Movement.
On 3 June, Three men who identified with the Boogaloo movement were arrested in Las Vegas for reportedly plotting to commit violent acts to incite a riot, and were arrested on terrorism charges. The three men also had military experience, and were plotting to attack economic targets prior to the protests in May.
Use of social media
Many individuals of the general population and celebrities used social media to document the protests, spread information, promote donation sites, and post memorials to George Floyd. Cardi B used her social media to comment on the police brutality and looting during the protests stating; "Police brutality been going on even way before I was born, but it has been more visual ever since social media" and "How many peaceful protests have we seen? How many trending hashtags have we seen? People are tired. Now this [looting] is what people have to resort to."[relevant? – discuss]
The hashtag #WalkWithUs was used to highlight law enforcement individuals who joined protesters in protesting against police brutality, such as in Santa Cruz, California, and Flint, Michigan.Childish Gambino's song "This is America" was used heavily by protesters sharing footage of protests and police action on TikTok. Others used personal Twitter pages to post video documentation of the protests to highlight police and protestors actions, and points of the protests they felt would not be reported. One example was a viral photo that appears to show white women protestors standing with their arms locked between Louisville Metro Police Officers and black protestors, with the caption describing the image and "This is love. This is what you do with your privilege."
During this time, multiple videos of the looting, protests and riots were shared by journalists and protestors with many videos going viral. One such was footage of a destroyed and smoky Target store interior that the poster claimed was in Minneapolis and damaged during the protests.
Following Floyd's death, a 15-year-old started a Change.org petition titled "Justice for George Floyd," demanding that all four police officers involved be charged. The petition was the both the largest and fastest-growing in the site's history, reaching over 13 million signatures.
Director Spike Lee posted a short film on his social media to support the protests and highlighted the deaths Floyd, Eric Garner and fictional character Radio Raheem from his film Do the Right Thing. The short uses footage of the deaths of all three men and opens with the words "Will history stop repeating itself?"
Misinformation and disinformation has been spread across social media since hours prior to the beginning of the first protests. Internet users and celebrities spread images of men wearing MAGA hats that were falsely identified as Chauvin. Social media users claimed a man videoed breaking the windows of an AutoZone in Minneapolis on May 27 was an undercover Saint Paul Police officer (who was identified by his ex-wife); the Saint Paul Police Department denied these claims through a statement on Twitter. The person has yet to be officially identified. Others spread images of damage from other protests or incidents, falsely attributing the damage to the George Floyd protests.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz speculated that there was "an organized attempt to destabilize civil society," initially stating that as many as 80% of the individuals had possibly come from outside the state, and the mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter, said that everyone arrested in St. Paul on May 29 was from out of state. However, this was shown to be incorrect, as records proved that the majority of those arrested were in-state. At a press conference later the same day, Carter explained that he had "shared... arrest data received in [his] morning police briefing which [he] later learned to be inaccurate."
Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts associated with spreading a false claim about a communications blackout during protests in Washington DC, or a claim that authorities had blocked protesters from communicating on their smartphones. Also, some accounts shared a photo of a major fire burning near the Washington Monument, which was actually an image from a television show.
A photograph of the White House with the exterior and interior lights turned off, purportedly showing the White House during the protests, was shared thousands of times online, including by Hillary Clinton. However, an AP News Fact Check found this picture to be an edited stock photograph from 2015.
The New York Police Department claimed that $2.4 million dollars of Rolex watches had been looted during protests from the Soho Rolex store, Rolex confirmed that "no watches of any kind were stolen, as there weren’t any on display in the store."
....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. 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. Thank you!
On May 27, 2020, President Donald Trump tweeted "At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd...."
On May 29, Trump responded to the riots by threatening that either "the very weak Radical Left Mayor Jacob Frey get his act together and bring the City under control" or he will send in the National Guard, adding that "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts." The tweet was interpreted as quoting former Miami Police Chief Walter Headley, who said "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in December 1967, as Miami saw escalating tensions and racial protests aimed at the 1968 Republican National Convention. Trump's use of the quote was seen by Twitter as an incitement of violence; Twitter placed the tweet behind a public interest notice for breaching its terms of service in regards to incitement of violence. The next day, Trump commented on his original tweet, saying, "Looting leads to shooting, and that's why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night - or look at what just happened in Louisville with 7 people shot. I don't want this to happen, and that's what the expression put out last night means...."
In a May 31 series of tweets, Trump blamed the press for the protests and said that journalists are "truly bad people with a sick agenda." In a call with governors, Trump said they have been "weak" and insisted that they "have to dominate ... You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again."
On May 30, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated that the riots have exposed the "inequality and discrimination in the criminal justice system" and that "When you have one episode, two episodes maybe you can look at them as individual episodes. But when you have 10 episodes, 15 episodes, you are blind or in denial if you are still treating each one like a unique situation,"
Atlanta MayorKeisha Lance Bottoms called for protesters to express their anger through "non-violent" means. She decried the riots as illegitimate and accused them of harming Atlanta rather than helping.
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie, while sympathizing with the anger of protesters, asked for citizens to stop the violence and have a "Respectful, peaceful dialogue."
An opinion poll indicates the majority (64%) of American adults are “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now” and a slight majority (55%) disapprove of Trump's handling of the protests. Polls indicate that among American voters, 46% approve of the protests, 38% disapprove and 16% were neutral; 76% of voters disapprove of looting and property destruction during the protests, while 17% approve.
The entertainment industry has been supportive of protesters, exhibited by a number of prominent figures supporting the protests and adjacent Black Lives Matter causes. Much of the music industry called for a "blackout" on June 2.
On the morning of May 29, Target temporarily closed 24 of its locations in the Twin Cities area, and reopened all but six the same day. Target later announced that they would be closing 73 of their Minnesota stores until further notice and made a commitment to rebuilding the store on Lake Street. On May 31, Target closed 49 stores in California and 12 stores in New York.
On May 31, Walmart temporarily closed several hundred of its stores as a precaution. Amazon also announced it would redirect some delivery routes and scale back others as a result of the widespread unrest.
5/ We won’t fix or remove all the obstacles and stressors that are affecting people’s health and well-being – especially ones like racism – over night. That doesn’t mean we mustn't try at all. Change happens over time and there needs to be meaningful progress.
Protest at the US embassy in Berlin on May 30, 2020
Australia – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated his beliefs that violent protests would not create change. He warned against Australian demonstrations taking a similar course as "there's no need to import things happening in other countries."
Canada – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for Canada to "stand together in solidarity" against racial discrimination. He said Canadians are watching the police violence in the United States in "shock and horror." Trudeau was asked about Trump threatening to use the military, he pauses for 21 seconds, finally he said Canada watches in horror and consternation, then he said it was time to recognise we too have our challenges, avoiding answer the question directly.
China – The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China said that "black lives matter and their human rights should be guaranteed" and hoped that "the U.S. government would take all necessary measures to deal with the violent law enforcement of police, so as to protect and safeguard the legitimate interests of racial minorities." However, both state media and individual officials also criticized the United States government and accused it of hypocrisy. For instance, the Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian accused the United States of having a 'double standard' for labeling U.S. protesters disappointed with racism as rioters while glorifying the Hong Kong protesters as heroes, and for shooting U.S. protesters and mobilizing the National Guard while criticizing the Hong Kong police.
Hong Kong – Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam decried what she perceived as a 'double standard' in America's reaction to protests in Hong Kong and their protests at home. Student activist Joshua Wong offered his solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Cuba – Cuba's Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla tweeted that George Floyd "did not 'pass away.' He was brutally murdered. Unfortunately this is a well known story for African-Americans. He was unarmed and shouting 'I can't breathe,' but that wasn't enough to prevent an injustice. Our skin color should not define us. #BlackLivesMatter."
Germany – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Twitter that the peaceful protests in the United States following the death of George Floyd are "understandable and more than legitimate." and that peaceful protests must always be allowed.
Ghana – President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, saying that "black people the world over were shocked and distraught" by Floyd's killing, expressed his condolences to Floyd's family and his hope that there would be "lasting change" in how America "confronts the problems of hate and racism."
Holy See – Pope Francis called for "national reconciliation" in the U.S. saying that racism is "intolerable" and that the violence that erupted on the streets is "self-destructive and self-defeating."
Iran – On May 30, Iran's Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned "the tragic murder of black people and deadly racial discrimination in the United States." It added that "the voices of the protesters must be heard ... (and) the repression of suffering Americans must be stopped immediately." Two days later, a Ministry spokesman said at a news conference, speaking in English: "To the American officials and police: stop violence against your people and let them breathe." In a televised speech on June 3, Supreme LeaderAli Khamenei stated that in the United States, "they kill people in an open crime, and they do not offer an apology while claiming [to support] human rights... Apparently, the African American man who was killed there was not a human being."
New Zealand - Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern has stated that she was "horrified" by the situation around the death of George Floyd. Ardern had been criticized by local Black Lives Mater solidarity protesters for remaining silent about Floyd's death for a week.
Russia – The Russian Foreign Ministry condemned the police violence and arrest of journalists amid the protests, remarking that "this incident is not the first in the string of incidents exposing lawlessness and unjustified violence by ‘guardians of law and order’ in the United States."Maria Zakharova, the ministry's spokeswoman, further commented that in light of the protests, the US 'no longer had the authority' to criticize others regarding human rights.
Chechnya – Head of the Chechen RepublicRamzan Kadyrov said Trump needs to "end the mayhem" and "illegal actions against citizens." He continued, "Police are lynching people right on the streets of American cities....They are strangling citizens, beating them up, ramming them with cars." Kadyrov called on the United Nations to intervene.
Spain – Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez expressed his solidarity with the protests and his concern about the "authoritarian" ways in which the protests have been responded to during a parliamentary session. His Second Deputy Prime Minister, Pablo Iglesias, posted a tweet with the word "ANTIFA" in response to Trump's intentions to declare Antifa a terrorist organization. Sánchez has considered that everyone must unite to combat what he considers "the evil of our time," the extreme right, and has supported some demonstrations that, he said, "have in their genesis some of the most difficult elements in construction of a great country ," the United States, to which he has expressed his respect.
Turkey – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said a "racist and fascist" approach led to Floyd's death and said that "[we] will be monitoring the issue." The Foreign Minister added on June 3 that "it is unacceptable for police to kill any person in such a way, regardless of race or religion... Justice must be done," but also that "No matter who it is, we do not support such vandalism, not just in the US but also in other countries."
United Kingdom – The UK Foreign Office reacted to the arrest of a journalist and said that "journalists all around the world must be free to do their job and hold authorities to account without fear of retribution." Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab commented that the footage of Floyd's arrest was "very distressing" but said that it is "not his job" to comment on the U.S. President's response to the protests.Prime MinisterBoris Johnson told Parliament that "black lives matter," and added, "I also support, as I’ve said, the right to protest. The only point I would make... is that any protest should be carried out lawfully and in this country protests should be carried out in accordance with our rules on social distancing."
African Union – Head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, described Floyd's death as a "murder," stating that the African Union condemned the "continuing discriminatory practices against black citizens of the USA."
Amnesty International – The organization released a press release statement calling the police in the United States to end excessive militarized responses to the protests. It also called on the UK to review exports of security equipment, including tear gas or rubber bullets, to US police forces.
European Union – European Union Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell stated that the EU is "shocked and appalled" by Floyd's death and attributed it to "abuse of power" by law enforcement. He also warned against further "excessive use of force."
Human Rights Watch said they were "appalled" by the footage of the arrest and said that "no one should ever be subject to such gratuitous violence." It also added that "George Floyd’s cruel and pointless death, and the litany of black lives that were lost before, reconfirms our commitment to combat these injustices."
A fire burns at maX it PAWN in Minneapolis, Minnesota