Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, one incident eclipsed the Coronavirus crisis. It all started with the plea “I can’t breathe”. After these final words of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died of asphyxiation while a Minneapolis officer kneeled on his neck, thousands of Americans flooded the streets across the country to protest his death. All over the US in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Miami, New Work City and Chicago, people stormed to protest the deaths of numerous innocent and unarmed black men and women who died at the hands of the police.
Grief and anger over George Floyd’s death was the catalyst that sparked mass protests as an outcry against police brutality. Even though Derek Chauvin, the officer seen pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, protesters continue to fight for change in the whole system.
While some protesters have been peaceful, armed with “Black Lives Matter” signs and face masks for safety amidst the coronavirus pandemic, some have become violent. Although it started as a peaceful protest, things quickly became deadly and careened out of control as some groups started looting and vandalizing stores and private property.
Officials in several cities warned that the individuals behind the chaos are not there to protest Floyd’s death but just to cause violence and may be members of white supremacist, anarchist, and far-left extremist groups. These individuals have resorted to burning buildings and police cars and destruction of businesses. Footages of people smashing store fronts and looting high-end designer boutiques are spreading across the internet in what seems as an escalation of the protests.
To help curb the violence, several cities enacted curfews over the weekend and governors activated the National Guard. According to , about 4,000 people have been arrested for allegedly defying nightly curfew and performing acts of destruction. Aside from the arrests, authorities have responded to the violent protests with force, shooting tear gas, mace and rubber bullets at the crowds.
A video from New York City showed a police truck driving into a barricade and knocking over protestors. This incident worsened the situation between the police and the people on the streets. Another live coverage showed that peaceful protesters are now being detained and arrested for being on the streets past the curfew. Despite the painful history of curfews being a form of government censorship and oppression, officials insisted that the arrests were for safety and security.
For those who wish to help the protesters being arrested, majority of whom are facing misdemeanor charges of unlawful assembly, posting bail is one way of getting them out of jail immediately. However, a from Jacksonville, FL stated that in their city, the cost of bail is doubling for some protesters who were arrested over the weekend. This could be a problem that will spread to other cities in the US experiencing mass protests.