Days of protests continued across the country on Sunday (May 31) over police brutality and the death of George Floyd. And as these demonstrations rage on, there is also a growing concern that officers charged with keeping the peace are actually inciting disorder through unprovoked violence, The New York Times reports.
While there are reports of officers from various police departments kneeling and marching alongside protesters, there are also many disturbing incidents of officers being filmed beating demonstrators, journalists and bystanders with batons, spraying them with tear gas and pepper spray, and shooting them with rubber bullets. Even more troubling, a lot of these attacks from officers appear to be unprovoked, according to The Times.
Reports The Times:
The footage, which has been shared widely online, highlighted the very complaints over police behavior that have drawn protests in at least 75 cities across the United States.
In Salt Lake City, officers in riot gear shoved a man with a cane to the ground.
In Brooklyn, two police S.U.V.s plowed into a crowd of protesters.
In Atlanta, police officers enforcing a curfew stopped two college students in a car, fired Tasers on them and dragged them out of the vehicle.
And in Minneapolis, where there have been six consecutive nights of protests and clashes, a video appeared to show officers yelling at people on their porches to get inside and then firing paint canisters at them. “Light them up,” one officer said.
Share widely: National guard and MPD sweeping our residential street. Shooting paint canisters at us on our own front porch. Yelling “light em up” #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #JusticeForGeorge #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/bW48imyt55
rn— Tanya Kerssen (@tkerssen) May 31, 2020
Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York, who spoke to The Times about his police department’s handling of the rebellion, seemed conflicted in his feelings. “I didn’t like what I saw one bit. I did not want to ever see something like that,” he said before adding that officers showed “a “tremendous amount of restraint.”
A video taken in Seattle on Friday (May 29) showed police “detaining someone on the ground and repeatedly punching the person,” The Times reports. Dae Shik Kim Jr., who shared the video on behalf of a friend who wanted to remain anonymous, told The Times that the police tactics were extremely disturbing.
“The tone that we felt from the police is: This is their rally,” Mr. Kim told The Times. “They are going to control it from the beginning. They are going to dictate what happens. It’s a very offensive type of approach.”
According to The Times:
In one arrest, captured on video after a group of people had gone into a damaged retail store, one officer put a knee on the back of the arrestee’s neck. Mr. Floyd, the man whose death on May 25 inspired protests in Minneapolis that have spread across the country, died after an officer kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for close to nine minutes.
As onlookers in Seattle shouted at the officer to remove his knee, his partner reached over and pulled it away.
As Colorlines previously reported, “the Minneapolis Police Department quickly fired the four officers involved in Floyd’s death.” Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, however, was the only one arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder. According to CNN, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Sunday night agreed with critics in saying all four officers involved should be held responsible for Floyd’s untimely death. "Mr. Floyd died in our hands and so I see that as being complicit," Arradondo told CNN’s Sara Sidner. "Silence and inaction, you’re complicit. If there was one solitary voice that would have intervened … that’s what I would have hoped for."
Minneapolis City Council member Jeremiah Ellison spoke to The Times about businesses burning in his city amid the ongoing protests. He placed the blame squarely on police officers. “No one was looting anything in the first night of this protest, no one was lighting anything on fire on the first night of this protest, and yet the response from the police was incredibly brutal,” he said. “The original provocation to street violence was from our officers.”