A man who moved a nation

Posted: October 28, 2020

The death of George Floyd sparks nation-wide unrest

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46 year old Black man was killed by Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. A ten minute video was released on May 26 of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and laying face down. The video circled around the internet and was shown around the world by the news media. This caused despair and outrage among the millions of people who viewed it worldwide. 

“…the length of time that they had to make a decision, a different decision,” said Paulita Todhunter, Director of Diversity Initiatives. “Eight minutes. They could have gone a whole other way ….” 

Protests began in Minneapolis on Tuesday, May 26, and quickly spread throughout the country over the next couple of days. Fires and looting broke out on May 27. According to data taken by the StarTribune, around 1,500 locations were damaged and around 150 buildings were set on fire, including the Minneapolis’ 3rd Precinct station.

“I think that was the combination of the video and then just the sheer disregard for someone who didn’t seem to be much of a danger,” said Todhunter, in regards to the protests. “…it was just the last straw.” 

Protests for what is known as the Black Lives Matter movement have continued to this day. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other former officers involved in the incident – J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. In response to the killing of Floyd and the protests, the Minneapolis police department has been banned from the use of any chokeholds or neck restraints.

The site of Floyd’s killing, outside the Cup Foods store at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis, has been transformed into a memorial space. Many people have visited to pay respects, bring flowers and posters, or to see the artwork and messages that visitors have left. This includes Minnehaha students and teachers. 

Chemistry teacher Joy Reist saw a diverse group of people “holding hands and embracing each other and having some beautiful moments.” People were making gestures that were “unifying people.”

The killing of Floyd has opened up many people’s eyes to the current injustices of the world. MA students and teachers hope to keep the Black Lives Matter movement prevalent by continuing conversations about race and racism. This year, students and teachers have been talking about the impact and effects of race in chapel groups and advisory.

“There are a number of ways that people can get involved, especially students,” said Todhunter. “…I love to see when students pick up the mantle and figure out what they can do.”

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