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The Summer of Discontent- The Black Lives Matter movement

On May 25, 2020, an African American male was murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, because of an arrest. A store employee suspected George Perry Floyd Jr.  may have used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Derek Chauvin was one of the four police officers who arrived on the scene. Chauvin detained Floyd but knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for nine minutes and 29 seconds. After Floyd’s murder, protesters began to rally across the United States against police brutality, specifically towards black people. Floyd’s dying words, “I can’t breathe,” became a rally chant around the globe.

A store employee at “Cup Foods grocery store,” suspected Floyd may have used a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Floyd was sitting in a car with two other passengers. Police officers forcibly removed Floyd from the car and handcuffed him face down in the street. Because of cellphone footage and store cameras, two other officers were further restrained. In the final two minutes, Floyd was motionless and unconscious with no pulse. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck and back even when emergency medical technicians arrived.

The city of Minneapolis settled a wrongful death lawsuit with Floyds family for $27 million. Derek Chauvin was convicted on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter on April 20, 2021, and on June 25, 2021. Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison. The other three officers at the scene of Floyds death were also convicted later for violating Floyd’s civil rights.

Maya Tillman, mass communications major said “I do think the coverage was fair in the Chauvin/George trial. The jury announced guilty verdicts on all three charges against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin: second degree murder, second degree manslaughter, and third-degree murder. I was shocked how the case played out. The media showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, something that should never be done to anyone being detained by police. However, I feel the media tried to take the focus off former officer Chauvin and his actions. I feel the media presented all the negative actions that Floyd participated to make the kneeling on the neck justifiable. Floyd was high on potentially, lethal dose of fentanyl at the time of his death. The issue of drug abuse seemed to recede in importance as a cause of Floyd’s death. The defense presented in evidence that carbon monoxide poisoning from the squad cars exhaust contributed to Floyd’s death and argued the point to the jury in closing. “

Cassidy Clark, Mass Communications Major, said “The coverage on Black Lives Matter protesting was fair. The protest of the Black Lives Movement was very necessary. Black people do not feel like the country, cities, or states care about their wellbeing. Protesting is one of the ways black people feel they can get their point across without causing chaos and destruction. The media made the Black Lives Matter protest look like a riot. Rioters and protesters are two different groups of people. The difference between the two is, a rioter is a violent disturbance of peace by a crowd. A protester is a person who publicly demonstrates strong objection to something. Protesters in my opinion are calm and mature about a situation they are not in agreement with, so they march and protest publicly in hope for change. A rioter in my opinion is angry and causes chaos and destruction publicly. Someone who finds any excuse to loot or destroy public property. “

Zora Johnson, Information Technology major said, “If I had to report the incident of George Floyd, I’d more than likely keep the focus on the main reason why people are upset and angry. A reporter should leave out unnecessary content and stay focused on the big picture. The big picture is injustice towards black and brown people. The problem in society is police officers abusing their authority. The media coverage of Chauvin and Floyd should have kept the focus on a police officer kneeling on a black male’s neck for over 10 minutes. The focus should have been about how George Floyd repeatedly told officer Chauvin that he can’t breathe. The media coverage should have talked more about how there were officers involved in the killing of Floyd and how none of them did anything to prevent the situation from happening. “

After Floyds murder, people from all over the world were protesting the use of excessive force by police officers amongst black suspects and lack of police accountability.  The protest began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the day after Floyd’s murder. Protest developed in all 50 states and in countries across the world. The New York Times announced Floyd’s murder protest as “the largest protest in the United States since the Civil Rights era.” People from all over requested that the officers involved are to be fired and the police apartment defunded and abolished.

By June 6, murals were created in many different cities, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Manchester, Oakland, Berlin, Pensacola, La mesa, Idlib, Nairobi, and Strombeek-Beever. There was a mural created in Manchester and it was vandalized with graffiti, which resulted in a Manchester Police investigation. Floyd’s murder brought attention to the presence of institutional racism within the United Kingdom. Protest graffiti had also been put up throughout Los Angeles, with phrases like “I Can’t Breathe”, Say Their Names”, “Black Lives Matter”, and others.

 A GoFundMe account to support Floyd’s funeral expenses and benefit his family broke the GoFundMe site’s record for several individual donations. Childhood friend, Maurice Lester Hall, said that Floyd would have never “have imagined that this is the tragic way people would know his name.” Hall was a friend of Floyd for more than 20 plus years and was the passenger in the car seen in surveillance video and cellphone footage. “They first came up on the car using blunt force and initially they startled Floyd. He asked him what they wanted him to do,” Hall said. “They screaming, let me see your hands. Then he puts his hands over the front steering wheel.” Hall added that Floyd tried to diffuse the situation.

Everyone can learn something from this trial. People can learn that the media will try to change focus on important events happening in America. People can learn that all cops aren’t saints. Even though police officers are supposed to protect and serve the public, some of them are terrorizing and threatening the public.

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