- “We’re the free people of America, and we’re here to try to really change the country.”
- "We're really bringing attention to the hypocrisy of the holiday and how many of us were not independent.”
- They knelt for 46 seconds at the intersection of North Seventh Street and North First Avenue in honor of those killed by police officers.
Thousands of protesters filled the streets of Minneapolis as they took part in The Black 4th march. The protesters wore black clothes and dragged chains. Independence Day turned into a day of protest as they demanded justice for George Floyd and many others killed by police.
They knelt for 46 seconds at the intersection of North Seventh Street and North First Avenue in honor of those killed by police officers. “We’re the free people of America, and we’re here to try to really change the country,” said Royce White, who works with the 10K Foundation.
“We’re really bringing attention to the hypocrisy of the holiday and how many of us were not independent,” Tayo Daniel, co-founder of the 10K Foundation, said. “Our grandparents, our ancestors were not independent. Quite the opposite, we were actually in chains, being beaten and oppressed during the time of the Declaration of Independence.”
The protest came at a time when there have been efforts to reform the police force. In Minneapolis, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has pledged to reform his police departmenta month after the death of Floyd. The police chief and Mayor Jacob Frey said that they have begun pushing for policy changes and new rules, particularly regarding police investigations.
One such rule is aimed at preventing officers involved in the use of force from reviewing body camera footage before the initial police report is completed. Mayor Jacob Frey, who is opposed to the call to abolish the police, said the policy will ensure transparency.
The Minneapolis City Council has begun the process of replacing the police force. The proposed charter aims at replacing the Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Community Safety and Violence Prevention. The Minneapolis City Council has rallied for the dismantling of the police department since anti-racism protests broke out in the country following the death of George Floyd.
Last month, the US House of Representatives passed far-reaching legislation on police reforms, a month after Floyd’s death. The legislation is aimed at lifting legal obstacles that protect police officers from lawsuits, banning no-knock raids used by police, and halting the flow of military surplus equipment to police departments. It is named after Floyd.
Floyd, an African American man died on May 25 after a white police officer, Chauvin, pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty six seconds. Floyd was buried last month in Houston, amid calls for racial justice from speakers.
In a horrifying video, Chauvin pinned Floyd down with his knee as he lay on the ground during an arrest. The video footage was taken by a witness and was sent on social media. It showed Floyd helpless, asking the police not to kill him. Floyd said several times, “I can’t breathe!”
The officer is then heard telling him to relax he continues to pin him down. “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” Floyd cries out. “[I need] water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe, officer. . . I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.” In the footage witnesses are heard pleading with the police to let go the man but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
The death of Floyd has sparked outrage from all quarters, and ignited anger over police killings of black Americans. Widespread anti-racism protests were witnessed in all US states and around the world. The protests were violent in the beginning, but later on turned peaceful.
A number of police officers have used a lot of force during the widespread protests against the murder of Floyd. Some of these officers have been fired, while others have been charged. The demonstrators were calling for justice for Floyd, as well as police reforms where they advocated for disbandment and dismantling of the police force.
Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd using his knee, is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter. The other three officers, Thomas Lane, Alexander Kueng and Tuo Thao, face charges on aiding and abetting second degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers involved in the arrest were fired and have appeared in court.