George Floyd protests
The George Floyd protests are an ongoing series of protests and civil unrest which began in Minneapolis in the United States on May 26, 2020. The protests began as a response to the killing of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who was killed during an arrest after Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis Police Department officer, knelt on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes as three other officers looked on. Chauvin and the other three officers involved in the arrest which led to Floyd's death were later arrested.
The unrest began as local protests in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area of Minnesota before quickly spreading nationwide and in over 2,000 cities and towns in over 60 countries internationally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protests continued throughout the month of June and through the July 4 weekend. As of July 3, polls estimated that between 15 million and 26 million people had participated at some point in the demonstrations in the United States, making the protests the largest in United States history.
While the majority of protests have been peaceful, demonstrations in some cities escalated into riots, looting, and street skirmishes with police. Many police responded to protests with numerous instances of police brutality, including against reporters. At least 200 cities in the U.S. had imposed curfews by June 3, while at least more than 30 states and Washington, D.C. activated over 62,000 National Guard personnel due to the mass unrest. By June 30, at least 14,000 people had been arrested.
The protests have led to [|numerous legislative proposals] on federal, state and municipal levels intended to combat police misconduct, systemic racism, qualified immunity and police brutality in the United States, while the Trump administration has drawn widespread criticism for its hardline, militarized response and aggressive rhetoric. The protests led to a wave of monument removals and name changes throughout the world and occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Police brutality in the United StatesFrequent cases of police misconduct and fatal use of force by law enforcement officers in the U.S., particularly against African Americans, have long led the civil rights movement and other activists to protest against the lack of police accountability in incidents involving excessive force. Many protests during the civil rights movement were a response to police brutality, including the 1965 Watts riots which resulted in the deaths of 34 people, mostly African Americans. The largest post-civil rights movement protest in the 20th Century was the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which were in response to the acquittal of police officers responsible for excessive force against an African American man named Rodney King.
In 2014, the shooting of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri resulted in local protests and unrest while the death of Eric Garner in New York City resulted in numerous national protests. In 2015 the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore police custody resulted in riots in the city and nationwide protests as part of the Black Lives Matter movement. Several nationally publicized incidents occurred in Minnesota, including the 2015 shooting of Jamar Clark in Minneapolis; the 2016 shooting of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights; and the 2017 shooting of Justine Damond. In 2016, Tony Timpa was killed by Dallas police officers in the same way as George Floyd. In March 2020, the shooting of Breonna Taylor by police executing a no knock warrant at her Kentucky apartment was also widely publicized.
COVID-19 pandemicMeasures taken against the COVID-19 pandemic, including closure of non-essential businesses and implementation of stay-at-home orders, had significant economic and social impact on many Americans as millions had lost their jobs and were made more economically vulnerable.
Killing of George FloydAccording to a police statement, on May 25, 2020, at 8:08p.m. CDT, Minneapolis Police Department officers responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding a "forgery in progress" on Chicago Avenue South in Powderhorn, Minneapolis. MPD Officers Thomas K. Lane and J. Alexander Kueng arrived with their body cameras turned on. A store employee told officers that the man was in a nearby car. Officers approached the car and ordered George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, who according to police "appeared to be under the influence," to exit the vehicle, at which point he "physically resisted." According to the MPD, officers "were able to get the suspect into handcuffs, and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance." Once Floyd was handcuffed, he and Officer Lane walked to the sidewalk. Floyd sat on the ground at Officer Lane's direction. In a short conversation, the officer asked Floyd for his name and identification, explaining that he was being arrested for passing counterfeit currency, and asked if he was "on anything." According to the report officers Kueng and Lane attempted to help Floyd to their squad car, but at 8:14 p.m., Floyd stiffened up and fell to the ground. Soon, MPD Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao arrived in a separate squad car. The officers made several more failed attempts to get Floyd into the squad car.
Floyd, who was still handcuffed, went to the ground face down. Officer Kueng held Floyd's back and Lane held his legs. Chauvin placed his left knee in the area of Floyd's head and neck. A Facebook Live livestream recorded by a bystander showed Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck. Floyd repeatedly tells Chauvin "Please" and "I can't breathe," while a bystander is heard telling the police officer, "You got him down. Let him breathe." After some time, a bystander points out that Floyd was bleeding from his nose while another bystander tells the police that Floyd is "not even resisting arrest right now," to which the police tell the bystanders that Floyd was "talking, he's fine." A bystander replies saying Floyd "ain't fine." A bystander then protests that the police were preventing Floyd from breathing, urging them to "get him off the ground... You could have put him in the car by now. He's not resisting arrest or nothing." Floyd then goes silent and motionless. Chauvin does not remove his knee until an ambulance arrives. Emergency medical services put Floyd on a stretcher. Not only had Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for about seven minutes but another video showed an additional two officers had also knelt on Floyd while another officer watched.
in Minneapolis on May 31|alt=George Floyd mural at site of death with tribute items left in front of it
Although the police report stated that medical services were requested prior to the time Floyd was placed in handcuffs, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Emergency Medical Services arrived at the scene six minutes after getting the call. Medics were unable to detect a pulse, and Floyd was pronounced dead at the hospital. An autopsy of Floyd was conducted on May 26, and the next day, the preliminary report by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office was published, stating "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." Floyd's underlying health conditions included coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The initial report said that "he combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death." The medical examiner further said Floyd was "high on fentanyl and had recently used methamphetamine at the time of his death."
On June 1, a private autopsy commissioned by the family of Floyd ruled the death a homicide and found that Floyd had died due to asphyxiation from sustained pressure, which conflicted with the original autopsy report done earlier that week. Shortly after, the official post-mortem declared Floyd's death a homicide. Video footage of Officer Derek Chauvin applying 8 minutes 15 seconds of sustained pressure to Floyd's neck generated global attention and raised questions about the use of force by law enforcement.
On May 26, Chauvin and the other three officers were fired. He was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; the former charge was later changed to second-degree murder.
Protesters and Floyd's family demanded that all four officers at the scene of his arrest and death be charged with murder and that judicial consequences were swift. That evening, the protest rally turned into a march to the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct station where the officers were believed to work. After the main protest group disbanded, a small skirmish the night of May 26 resulted in minor property damage at the station and the police firing tear gas at demonstrators.
Protests were held at several locations throughout the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area in subsequent days. The situation escalated the nights of May 27 to 29 where widespread arson, rioting, and looting took place, which were noted as a contrast to daytime protests that were characterized as mostly peaceful events. Some initial acts of property destruction on May 27 by a 32-year-old man with ties to white supremacist organizations, who local police investigators said was deliberately inciting racial tension, led to a chain reaction of fires and looting. The unrest, including demonstrators overtaking the Minneapolis third precinct police station and setting it on fire the night of May 28, garnered significant national and international media attention. After state officials mobilized Minnesota National Guard troops in its largest deployment since World War II, the violent unrest subsided and mostly peaceful protests resumed. However, the violence had resulted in two deaths, 617 arrests, and upwards of $500 million in property damage to 1,500 buildings, making it the second-most destructive period of local unrest in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Elsewhere in the United StatesProtests outside the Minneapolis area were first reported on May 27 in Memphis and Los Angeles. It is unclear if demonstrators were reacting to the graphic video of Floyd's death or the culmination of a string of black American deaths, preceded by Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta on February 23 and Breonna Taylor in Louisville on March 13. By May 28, protests had sprung up in several major U.S. cities with demonstrations increasing each day. By June, protests had been held in all U.S. states. At least 200 cities had imposed curfews, and at least 27 states and Washington, D.C. activated over 62,000 National Guard personnel in response to a majority of peaceful protests.
In Seattle, starting in early June, protesters occupied an area of several city blocks after the police vacated it, declaring it the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, where according to protesters "the police are forbidden, food is free and documentaries are screened at night". On June 10, President Trump challenged mayor Jenny Durkan and governor Jay Inslee to "take back your city," and implying, according to Durkan, the possibility of a military response.
On June 6, an estimated half a million people joined protests in 550 places in the United States.
was established in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.
On June 14, an estimated 15,000 people gathered outside the Brooklyn Museum at Grand Army Plaza for the Liberation March, a silent protest in response to police brutality and violence against Black transgender women. Frustrated by the lack of media coverage over the deaths of Nina Pop, who was stabbed in Sikeston, Missouri on May 3 and Tony McDade, who was shot by police in Tallahassee, Florida on May 27, artist and drag performer West Dakota and her mentor, drag queen Merrie Cherry, decided to organize a silent rally inspired by the 1917 NAACP Silent Parade. The march generated widespread media attention as one of the largest peaceful protests in modern New York City history.
On June 19, Juneteenth, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union shut down ports on the West Coast in solidarity with protesters. An educator from the University of Washington said that the union has a history of protest and leftist politics since its founding: " understood that division along the lines of race only benefited employers, because it weakened the efforts of workers to act together and to organize together. The UAW also asked members to join the protests by standing down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a police officer held his knee to George Floyd's neck.
On June 17, in response to the protests, three different police reform plans, plans from the Republicans, the Democrats, and the White House, were unveiled aiming to curb police brutality and the use of violence by law enforcement. On June 25, NPR reported that the hopes for passage were doubtful because they were "short-circuited by a lack of bipartisan consensus on an ultimate plan the issue is likely stalled, potentially until after the fall election."
Protests continued over the weekend of June 19 in many cities, and observations of Juneteenth gained a new awareness. Jon Batiste, bandleader for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, took part in a Juneteenth day of protests, marches, rallies and vigils to "celebrate, show solidarity, and fight for equal rights and treatment of Black people" in Brooklyn. Batiste also appeared in concert with Matt Whitaker in a performance presented in partnership with Sing For Hope, performed on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library.
As of July 3, protests were ongoing. Over the course of the demonstrations, protests have occurred in over 40% of the counties in the United States. Polls suggesting between 15 million and 26 million people participated, which would make these demonstrations the largest in United States history.
On July 20, the Strike for Black Lives, a mass walkout intended to raise awareness of systemic racism, featured thousands of workers across the United States walking off their jobs for approximately 8 minutes, in honor of Floyd.
Elsewhere in the worldProtests over Floyd's death quickly spread worldwide. Protests in Europe, Oceania, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere have rallied against what they perceived as racial discrimination and police brutality, with some protests aimed at United States embassies.
Over the weekend of June 7 and 8, surfers around the world held a "Paddle Out", a Hawaiian mourning tradition, for George Floyd and all the lives lost to police violence. Thousands observed the tradition in Honolulu, Hawaii, La Jolla, Hermosa Beach and Santa Monica, California, Galveston, Hackensack, New Jersey, Rockaway Beach, New York, Biarritz, France, Senegal and Australia.
Activation of non-local forces
StateBy June 9, governors in more than 30 states and Washington, D.C. had deployed about 32,000 National Guard members.
FederalAs of June 5, 2,950 federal law enforcement personnel from a dozen agencies, including the Secret Service, Capital Police, Park Police, Customs and Border Protection, FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, Bureau of Prisons' Special Operations Response Team, DEA's Special Response Team, ATF, and Marshals Service's Special Operations Group, have been dispatched to assist local authorities, with most of them being garrisoned in D.C. The DEA's legal authority was specifically expanded by the Department of Justice beyond usual limits to include surveillance of protesters and the ability to arrest for non-drug related offenses. In response, Representatives Jerry Nadler and Karen Bass of the House Judiciary Committee denounced the move and requested a formal briefing from DEA Acting Administrator Timothy Shea.
United States President Donald Trump controversially threatened to deploy the U.S. military in response to the unrest. On June 3 he said "If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem." This would require invoking the Insurrection Act of 1807, last used to quell the 1992 Los Angeles riots on May 1, 1992 by :wikisource:Executive Order 12804|Executive Order 12804. Arkansas senator Tom Cotton also pushed for the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division to be deployed to quell the unrest, calling protesters "Antifa terrorists." Cotton tweeted "No quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters." However, many legal experts said this would violate the Department of Defense Law of War Manual, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Conventions. Cotton later said he was using "no quarter" in a colloquial sense, but Mark Zaid and Tom Nichols responded that the legal definition of the term is a war crime. Massachusetts Representative Seth Moulton said federal troops should "lay down arms" if deployed in the United States.
On June 4, federal agencies added about of fencing around the White House, Lafayette Square, and The Ellipse. Protesters used the fencing to post signs and artwork expressing their views. On June 11, the fencing was taken down, and some signs were collected by Smithsonian Museum curators from the National Museum of African American History and Culture. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorized to provide aerial surveillance "to assist law enforcement and humanitarian relief efforts" when requested, provided drone imagery during the protests.
Federal policing of protestsOn June 26, Trump signed an executive order permitting federal agencies to provide personnel "to assist with the protection of Federal monuments, memorials, statues, or property." Following the executive order, the Department of Homeland Security sent officers from Customs and Border Protection to Portland, Oregon, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. This was a departure from Homeland Security's normal role of protecting against threats from abroad. Critics accused federal authorities of overstepping their jurisdiction and using excessive force against protesters. Oregon governor Kate Brown called for federal agents to scale back their response and criticized Trump's actions: "President Trump deploying armed federal officers to Portland only serves to escalate tensions and, as we saw yesterday, will inevitably lead to unnecessary violence and confrontation." Portland mayor Ted Wheeler demanded the agents be removed after citizens were detained far from the federal property agents were sent to protect.
From at least July 14, unidentified federal officers wearing camouflage used unmarked vans to detain protesters in Portland, Oregon—sometimes without explaining the reason for their arrest. The American Civil Liberties Union called these actions unconstitutional kidnappings. In The Nation, Jeet Heer also called the actions unconstitutional and wrote that "The deployment of unidentified federal officers is particularly dangerous in... Portland and elsewhere in America, because it could easily lead to right-wing militias' impersonating legal authorities and kidnapping citizens."
On July 20, the Chicago Tribune reported that the Department of Homeland Security is preparing to send 150 federal agents to Chicago.
Violence and controversiesOn May 29, 2020, Andrew Young stated that riots, violence, and looting "hurt the cause instead of helping it". As of June 22, 2020, police had made 14,000 arrests in 49 cities since the protests began, with most arrests being locals charged with low-level offenses such as violating curfews or blocking roadways.
As of July 5, 2020, at least 29 people have died during the protests, with 25 due to gunshot wounds. There have been numerous reports and videos of aggressive police actions using physical force including "batons, tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets on protesters, bystanders and journalists, often without warning or seemingly unprovoked." These incidents have provoked "growing concern that aggressive law enforcement tactics intended to impose order were instead inflaming tensions." The police responded that such tactics are necessary to prevent vandalism and arson, and that police officers themselves have been assaulted with thrown rocks and water bottles. Amnesty International issued a press release calling for the police to end excessive militarized responses to the protests.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced that "homicides went up 250% and victims shot went up 56%" from May 31 to June 6.
There have been accusations of various extremist groups using the cover of the protests to foment general unrest in the United States. According to CNN, "although interference in this way may be happening, federal and local officials have yet to provide evidence to the public."
There have been allegations of foreign influence stoking the unrest online, with the role of outside powers being additive rather than decisive as of May 31.
Several analysts have said that there was a lack of evidence for foreign meddling – whether to spread disinformation or sow divisiveness – but suggest that the messaging and coverage from these countries has more to do with global politics. George Floyd's family has denounced the violent protests.
At least 50 incidents of vehicles driving into crowds of protesters were recorded from May 27 to June 17, with four ruled accidental and five involving police officers. Since 2015, such actions have been encouraged against Black Lives Matter protests by "Run Them Over" and "All Lives Splatter" memes online, as well as items posted on Fox News and on social media by police officers.
Extremist participationA number of Trump administration officials and politicians, such as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, alleged that Antifa or anarchists were exploiting the situation or were responsible for violence; however, there is no evidence that Antifa-aligned individuals played a role in instigating the protests or violence, or that Antifa played a significant role in the protests, and the Trump administration has provided no evidence for its claims. The vast majority of protests were peaceful; among the 14,000 arrests made, most were for minor offenses such as alleged curfew violations or blocking a roadway. Persons involved in visible crimes such as arson or property damage were not ideologically organized, although some were motivated by anger towards police. Episodes of looting were committed by "regular criminal groups" and street gangs and was motivated by personal gain rather than ideology. A large number of white nationalists did not appear in response to the protests, although "a handful of apparent lone actors" were arrested for attempting to harm protesters. There was, however, a scattered number of armed paramilitary-style militia movement groups, and there were "several cases where members of these groups discharged firearms, causing chaos or injuring protesters."
According to the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, which mapped the appearance of various right-wing or far-right actors or extremist groups at rallies throughout the U.S., there had been 136 confirmed cases of right-wing participation at the protests by June 19, with many more unconfirmed. "Boogaloo Bois", Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, neo-Confederates, white nationalists, and an assortment of militias and vigilante groups reportedly had a presence at some protests, mostly in small towns and rural areas. Boogaloo Bois, whom are generally pro-gun, anti-authoritarian, and accelerationist, have reportedly been present at no less than 40 George Floyd protests, several reportedly linked with violence. Their continued presence online has caused Facebook and TikTok to take action against their violent and anti-government posts.
Use of social mediaMany individuals and celebrities used social media to document the protests, spread information, promote donation sites, and post memorials to George Floyd. Following Floyd's death, a 15-year-old started a Change.org petition titled "Justice for George Floyd," demanding that all four police officers involved be charged. The petition was both the largest and fastest-growing in the site's history, reaching over 13 million signatures. During this time, multiple videos of the protests, looting, and riots were shared by journalists and protesters with many videos going viral. One such video was of a destroyed and smoky Minneapolis Target store that the poster claimed was damaged during the protests.
Facebook's decision not to remove or label President Trump's tweet of "When the looting starts, the shooting starts" prompted complaints from Facebook employees that political figures were getting a special exemption from the site's content policies. Actions included internal petition, questioning the CEO at an employee town hall, some resignations, and an employee walkout.
DocumentationA remix of Childish Gambino's song "This is America" and Post Malone's "Congratulations" was used heavily by protesters sharing footage of protests and police action on TikTok. Others used personal Twitter pages to post video documentation of the protests to highlight police and protesters actions, and points of the protests they felt would not be reported. One example was a viral photo that appears to show white women protesters standing with their arms locked between Louisville Metro Police Officers and protesters, with the caption describing the image and "This is love. This is what you do with your privilege."
Viral images of officers "taking a knee" with protesters and engaging in joint displays against police brutality, highlighted by hashtags such as #WalkWithUs, have circulated widely on social media. These acts have been identified by some cultural critics as copaganda, or "feel-good images" to boost public relations. Official social media accounts of police departments boosted positive images of collaboration. In some cases, these displays of solidarity, such as police kneeling, have been recognized as occurring moments before police teargassed crowds or inflicted violence on them. An article in The Fader characterized these acts as public relations tactics which were being undermined by police violence, "It feels like we go past the point of no return several times each day."
Celebritiesused her social media to comment on the police brutality and looting during the protests stating; "Police brutality been going on even way before I was born, but it has been more visual ever since social media" and "How many peaceful protests have we seen? How many trending hashtags have we seen? People are tired. Now this is what people have to resort to." Director Spike Lee posted a short film on his social media to support the protests and highlighted the deaths Floyd, Eric Garner and fictional character Radio Raheem from his film Do the Right Thing. The short uses footage of the deaths of all three men and opens with the words "Will history stop repeating itself?"
Activismhijacked right wing and pro-Trump hashtags on social media, flooding trending hashtags with images and videos of their favorite artists. Users attempting to look up the hashtags #WhiteLivesMatter, #WhiteoutWednesday and #BlueLivesMatter were met with messages and video clips of dancing idols. After the Dallas Police Department asked Twitter users to submit videos of protesters' illegal activity to its iWatch Dallas app, submissions of K-pop videos led to the temporary removal of the app due to "technical difficulties."
On May 28, activist/hacktivist collective/movement Anonymous released a video to Facebook and the Minneapolis Police Department entitled "Anonymous Message To The Minneapolis Police Department", in which they state that they are going to seek revenge on the Minneapolis Police Department, and "expose their crimes to the world". According to Bloomberg, the video was initially posted on an unconfirmed Anonymous Facebook page. Before the video, the page posted content linked to UFOs and "China's plan to take over the world".
Official statementsMinnesota Governor Tim Walz speculated that there was "an organized attempt to destabilize civil society," initially stating that as many as 80% of the individuals had possibly come from outside the state, and the mayor of St. Paul, Melvin Carter, said everyone arrested in St. Paul on May 29 was from out of state. However, jail records showed that the majority of those arrested were in-state. At a press conference later the same day, Carter explained that he had "shared… arrest data received in morning police briefing which later learned to be inaccurate."
Numerous eyewitness accounts and news reporters indicated that tear gas was used to disperse protesters in Lafayette Square. Despite this evidence, U.S. Park Police officials said, "USPP officers and other assisting law enforcement partners did not use tear gas or OC Skat Shells to close the area at Lafayette Park", adding that they only used "pepper balls" and "smoke canisters". Donald Trump's presidential campaign demanded news outlets retract reports of "tear gas" use. President Trump called the reports "fake" and said "they didn't use tear gas."
Press statementsOn June 6, the New York Post reported that a NYPD source said $2.4 million of Rolex watches had been looted during protests from a Soho Rolex store. However, the store in question was actually a Watches of Switzerland outlet that denied anything was stolen. Rolex confirmed that "no watches of any kind were stolen, as there weren't any on display in the store."
On the night of May 31, exterior lights on the north side of the White House went dark as usual at 11pm, while protesters were demonstrating outside. The Guardian mistakenly reported that "in normal times, they are only ever turned off when a president dies." A 2015 stock photograph of the White House, edited to show the lights turned off, was shared tens of thousands of times online, including by Hillary Clinton. While the photograph did not depict the building at the time of the protests, Deputy White House Press Secretary Hogan Gidley confirmed that the lights "go out at about 11 p.m. almost every night."
A June 12 article by The Seattle Times found that Fox News published a photograph of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone that had been digitally altered to include a man armed with an assault rifle. The Fox News website also used a photograph of a burning scene from the Minnesota protests to illustrate their articles on Seattle's protests. Fox removed the images and issued an apology, stating the digitally altered image was a collage that "did not clearly delineate" splicing.
Conspiracy theoriesFalse stories about "Antifa buses" caused panic in rural counties throughout the country, despite there being no evidence that they exist. The Associated Press has cataloged at least five separate rural counties where locals have warned of imminent attacks, although none of the rumors have been substantiated. As a result of the rumors, several people have been harassed, including a multi-racial family in Forks, Washington. Hundreds of members of armed self-proclaimed militias and far right groups gathered in Gettysburg National Military Park on Independence Day in response to a fake online claim that antifa protesters were planning on burning the U.S. flag.
Some social media users claimed a man videoed breaking the windows of an AutoZone in Minneapolis on May 27 was an undercover Saint Paul Police officer; the Saint Paul Police Department denied these claims through a statement on Twitter. Additionally, SPPD released a montage of surveillance videos in an effort to prove that the officer who was accused of smashing the windows was actually away when the incident occurred. Others spread images of damage from other protests or incidents, falsely attributing the damage to the George Floyd protests.
Twitter suspended hundreds of accounts associated with spreading a false claim about a communications blackout during protests in Washington, D.C., or a claim that authorities had blocked protesters from communicating on their smartphones. Also, some accounts shared a photo of a major fire burning near the Washington Monument, which was actually an image from a television show.
Impact and effects
Economic impactAccording to Fortune, the economic impact of the protests has exacerbated the 2020 coronavirus recession by sharply curtailing consumer confidence, straining local businesses, and overwhelming public infrastructure with large-scale property damage. A number of small businesses, already suffering from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, were harmed by vandalism, property destruction, and looting. Curfews instated by local governments – in response to both the pandemic and protests – have also "restricted access to the downtown " to essential workers, lowering economic output. President Donald Trump, after announcing a drop in overall unemployment from 14.7% to 13.3% on June 5, stated that strong economic growth was "the greatest thing " and "George Floyd would have been proud ". That same day reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated the unemployment rate among African Americans was up 0.1%, rising to 16.8%.
The U.S. stock market has remained unaffected or otherwise increased since the start of the protests on May 26. The protest's first fortnight coincided with a 38% rise in the stock market. A resurgence of coronavirus could exacerbate the 2020 stock market crash according to economists at RBC. The protests have disrupted national supply chains over uncertainty regarding public safety, a resurgence of COVID-19, and consumer confidence. Several Fortune 500 retail companies, with large distribution networks, have scaled back deliveries and shuttered stores in high-impact areas. Mass demonstrations – of both peaceful and violent varieties – have been linked to diminished consumer confidence and demand stemming from the public health risks of group gatherings amid COVID-19. supermarket in Minneapolis on May 28|alt=|leftLarge-scale property damage stemming from the protests has led to increased insurance claims, bankruptcies, and curbed economic activity among small businesses and state governments. Insurance claims arising from property damage suffered in rioting is still being assessed, but is thought to be significant, perhaps record-breaking. The City of Minneapolis' Community Planning & Economic Development Department gave an early estimate of at least 220 buildings damaged and $55 million in property damage in the city from fires and vandalism, centered on the Lake Street area; city and state officials have requested state and federal aid to rebuild and repair. Later estimates projected damages to be upwards of $500 million. Among the losses was Minnehaha Commons, an under-construction, $30 million redevelopment project for 189 units of affordable housing, which was destroyed by fire after being torched on May 27. A community organization in Atlanta's Buckhead neighborhood said that between $10 million and $15 million in property damage was incurred over the weekend of May 29–31, mostly along storefronts along Peachtree Street and Phipps Plaza. The damage to downtown Chicago's central business district was reported to have sustained "millions of dollars in damage" according to Fortune.
Public financing and funding, particularly on the state level, has also been impacted by the protests. The coronavirus recession has eroded large parts of state budgets which have, subsequently, struggled to finance the police Overtime pay, security costs, and infrastructure repairs related to the demonstrations. State governments have, since June, announced budget cuts to police departments as well as increased funding to other public safety measures. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced on June 5 he will seek up to $150 million in cuts to the Los Angeles Police Department budget.
On May 31, Walmart temporarily closed several hundred of its stores as a precaution. Amazon announced it would redirect some delivery routes and scale back others as a result of the widespread unrest.
Monuments and symbolsScrutiny of, discussion of removal, and removal of civic symbols or names relating to the Confederate States of America has regained steam as protests have continued. On June 4, 2020, Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced the Robert E. Lee Monument in Richmond would be removed.
On June 5, making specific reference to events in Charlottesville in 2017, the United States Marine Corps banned the display of the Confederate Battle Flag at their installations. The United States Navy followed suit on June 9 at the direction of Michael M. Gilday, the Chief of Naval Operations.
Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin ordered the removal of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park. The Alabama Attorney General has filed suit against the city of Birmingham for violating the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act.
A statue of America's first president, George Washington, has been torn down and American flag was burned by rioters in Portland, Oregon. Portland Public Schools was responding after protesters pulled down the Thomas Jefferson statue in front of Jefferson High School. Several protesters tore down the statue of the third President of the United States and wrote: “slave owner” and “George Floyd” in spray paint at its white marble base. PPS officials said they recognize that the act is part of a larger and very important national conversation. The statues targeted included a bust of Ulysses S. Grant and statue of Theodore Roosevelt. BLM activist Shaun King tweeted that statues, murals, and stained glass windows depicting a white Jesus should be removed. Protesters defaced a statue of Philadelphia abolitionist Matthias Baldwin with the words "murderer" and "colonizer". Protesters in San Francisco vandalized a statue of Miguel de Cervantes, a Spanish writer who spent five years as a slave in Algiers.
Vandals defaced the statue of Winston Churchill in London's Parliament Square and Queen Victoria's statue in Leeds. The Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial and the statue of General Casimir Pulaski were vandalized during the George Floyd protests in Washington, D.C. On June 7, the statue of Edward Colston was toppled and thrown into Bristol Harbour by demonstrators during the George Floyd protests in the United Kingdom. BLM activists in London are calling for the removal of 60 statues of historical figures like Prime Ministers Charles Grey and William Gladstone, Horatio Nelson, Sir Francis Drake, King Charles II of England, Oliver Cromwell and Christopher Columbus. Protesters in Belgium have vandalized statues of King Leopold II of Belgium.
In Washington, D.C., a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in front of the Indian Embassy was vandalized on the intervening night of June 2 and 3. The incident prompted the embassy to register a complaint with law enforcement agencies. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, the Indian Ambassador to the United States, called the vandalism "a crime against humanity". In London, another statue of Gandhi was vandalized by Black Lives Matter protesters along with the statue of Winston Churchill.
On June 12, the city council in Hamilton, New Zealand removed the statue of Captain John Hamilton, a British officer who was killed during the Māori Wars in 1864. A local Māori elder Taitimu Maipi, who had vandalized the statue in 2018, has also called for the city to be renamed Kirikiriroa. New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters called the scrutiny of colonial-era memorials a "wave of idiocy".
On June 22, a crowd of rioters unsuccessfully attempted to topple Clark Mills' 1852 bronze equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in President's Park, directly north of the White House in Washington, D.C. Several days later, the United States Department of Justice charged four men with destruction of federal property for allegedly trying to bring down the statue. The Justice Department alleged that a video showed one of the men breaking off and destroying the wheels of the cannons located at the base of the statue as well as pulling on ropes when trying to bring down the statue.
Soon afterwards, the DOJ announced the arrest and charging of a man who was not only allegedly seen on video climbing up onto the Jackson statue and affixing a rope that was then used to try to pull the statue down, but had on June 20 helped destroy Gaetano Trentanove's 1901 Albert Pike Memorial statue near Washington's Judiciary Square by pulling it from its base and setting it on fire. The DOJ's complaint alleged that the man had been captured on video dousing the federally-owned Pike statue with a flammable liquid, igniting it as it lay on the ground and using the fire to light a cigarette.
On, after the Mississippi Legislature obtained a two-thirds majority in both houses to suspend rules in order to pass a bill addressing the Confederate Battle Flag on the Mississippi state flag, Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill that relinquished the state flag, mandated its removal from public premises within 15 days, and established a commission to propose a new flag design that excluded the Confederate Battle Flag and included the motto "In God We Trust". The flag contained the infamous Confederate symbol in the canton of the flag, and was the last U.S. state flag to do so.
During a speech on July 3 at Mount Rushmore, U.S. president Donald Trump denounced the monument removals as part of a "left wing cultural revolution" to "overthrow the American revolution."
On, the Washington Redskins announced that their name and logo would be retired upon completion of "a thorough review of the name" that was first announced on.
A week-long tour began July 28 in which a hologram of Floyd was projected on a monument to be removed, thereby "replacing" the monument with Floyd. Richmond, Virginia was the first stop.
Impact on police activityAccording to Lt. Bob Kroll, the head of the Minneapolis police union, officers are retiring "en masse". This is alongside morale being at an "all-time low."
Around 170 Atlanta police officers walked off of the job in mid-June following unresolved grievances in Rayshard Brooks case.
The New York City Police Department reported a 411% increase in police retirement application in the first week of July. As a result, the Department has limited new retirement applications to 40 a day.
InjuriesOn July 11, at least 150 Minneapolis police officers reported nondescript injuries as well as symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, leading over half of them to leave their jobs with more likely to follow. The Minneapolis police have denied there being any serious injuries inflicted on officers.
Changes to police policiesIn the wake of Floyd's killing, state and local governments evaluated their police department policies, and the response to protests, for themselves. For example, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for new police crowd control procedures for the state, and the banning of the police use of carotid chokeholds, which starve the brain of oxygen. The Minneapolis police department banned police from using chokeholds; Denver's police department also banned the use of chokeholds without exception, and also established new reporting requirements whenever a police officer holds a person at gunpoint.
In June 2020, Democrats in Congress introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a police reform and accountability bill that contains measures to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing. The impetus for the bill were the killings of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other African Americans at the hands of police. It passed the House of Representatives one month after Floyd's killing, 236 to 181, with support from Democrats and three Republicans. A Republican reform bill was blocked in the U.S. Senate by all but two Democrats; neither party negotiated the contents of the bill with the other. Speaker Nancy Pelosi summarized Democratic opposition to the Senate bill: "it's not a question that it didn't go far enough; it didn't go anywhere".
," a phrase popularized by BLM during the George Floyd protests
On June 16, President Trump signed an executive order on police reform that incentivized departments to recruit from communities they patrol, encourage more limited use of deadly force, and prioritize using social workers and mental health professionals for nonviolent calls. The order also created a national database of police officers with a history of using excessive force.
Push to abolish policeNine members of the Minneapolis City Council — a veto-proof majority — pledged on June 7 to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department, despite opposition from Mayor Frey. U.S. representative Ilhan Omar stated, “the Minneapolis Police Department has proven themselves beyond reform. It's time to disband them and reimagine public safety in Minneapolis." Despite pledges by city council members to the end the Minneapolis Police Department, a proposed amendment to the Minneapolis city charter which was approved by the Minneapolis City Council on June 26 would only rename the police department and change its structure if approved by voters.
Impact on entertainment
Television and filmsIn the media industry, the protests have spurred scrutiny for cop shows and led to the cancellation of popular television shows referred to by critics as copaganda. With long-standing criticism that it presented an unbalanced view of law enforcement in favor of police, encouraged police to engage in more dramatic behavior for the camera, and degraded suspects who had not yet been convicted of any crime, the Paramount Network canceled the 33rd season of the TV show Cops and pulled it from broadcast. The television network A&E canceled a similar show, Live PD, which was also found to have destroyed footage documenting the police killing of Javier Ambler in Austin, Texas, in 2019. The streaming service HBO Max temporarily pulled the film Gone with the Wind until video that explains and condemns the film's racist depictions could be produced to accompany it. In the United Kingdom, the BBC pulled the famed "The Germans" episode of Fawlty Towers from its UKTV streaming service, but later reinstated it after criticism from series star and co-writer John Cleese. He later criticized their use of the word "fury" to describe his comments. This was later removed by the BBC. The episode, which included racial slurs about the West Indies cricket team, now features a disclaimer at the beginning warning of "offensive content and language". The BBC also removed the Little Britain series and its spinoff Come Fly with Me from the iPlayer and BritBox services as well as Netflix for its use of blackface.
The week of June 24, 2020, several animated series that had black, mixed or non-white characters voiced by white actors, including Big Mouth, Central Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons, announced those characters would be recast with people of color. That same week, episodes of 30 Rock, The Office, Community, The Golden Girls, and Peep Show that involved characters using blackface were either removed or edited from syndication and streaming services.
In light of the protests, Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-star Terry Crews said that the first four episodes of the show's eighth season had to be rewritten.
Theme parksPopular Disney amusement ride Splash Mountain will be re-themed into a The Princess and the Frog-themed ride. Despite Disney stating the plan was on the works since 2019, fans believed the re-theming was responding to protests as the current attraction was based on the film Song of the South, a controversial film for its depiction of African-Americans.
FirearmsThe unrest has led to an unprecedented number of firearms being transferred inside of the United States.
Background checks for legally purchased firearms reached record highs in May with year-on-year numbers up 80.2%. In June 2020 the FBI reported running 3.9 million NICS checks for persons purchasing a firearm or firearms. This represented the highest monthly number of firearms transfers since the FBI began keeping records in 1998.
Firearms retailers surveyed by National Shooting Sports Foundation in May estimated that 40% of their sales came from first-time gun buyers, 40% of those first-time gun buyers were women, a relatively high rate for that demographic group. Though gun sales have been up across the country, a rise in first-time gun buyers in left-leaning states like California have helped fuel the national uptick in firearms and ammunition purchases. June 2020 represented the largest month of firearms purchases in United States history, with Illinois purchasing more firearms than any other state.
The last days of May and first week of June, there were more than 90 attempted or successful burglaries of gun stores, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. More than 1,000 guns were stolen in that window of time. On May 31 alone the BATF reported 29 separate burglaries targeting licensed firearm retailers.
D.C. statehoodIn response to the protests, the United States House of Representatives on June 26 passed a bill 232–180 along party lines to give statehood to most of the District of Columbia. The change is opposed by President Trump and most Republicans, and was not expected to pass the Senate. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the situation of taxation without representation in Congress a "grave injustice."
Impact on COVID-19 transmission
Concerns by officialsThe mass protests occurred during the global COVID-19 pandemic and officials and experts warned they could facilitate an accelerated or rebounding spread of COVID-19. A number of current and former public health officials expressed concerns that mass protests would lead to a spike in COVID-19 clusters, including Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Dr. Anthony Fauci, and former Trump administration FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. These concerns were echoed by a number of elected officials, including Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Abroad, Australia Health Minister Greg Hunt. and British Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged people to avoid mass gatherings. Martin Seychell, a health official at the EU Commission, said that mass events could be a major route of transmission like for any infectious respiratory disease and that the likelihood and size of a second wave would depend on the effective maintaining of social distancing measures and other factors. Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at Nottingham University, England stated there is "clear evidence that banning mass gatherings was one of the most effective and important parts of the lockdowns across European countries." While expressing disappointment at the flouting of social distancing rules, Police Minister Stuart Nash indicated that New Zealand Police were not seeking to prosecute protest organizers and participants.
A number of officials, including Cuomo, Bottoms, and Minnesota health officials, recommended that anyone who attended a demonstration receive COVID-19 testing.
Multiple governors attended street protests even though they appeared to violate their own orders to ensure social distancing.
FactorsIn June 2020 the CDC released the "Considerations for Events and Gatherings" which assesses large gatherings where it is difficult for people to stay at least six feet apart, and where attendees travel from outside the local area as "highest risk".
Masks and distancingSpeaking about public health implications of demonstrations, Dr. Anthony Fauci said that "Masks can help, but it’s masks plus physical separation". Ashish Jha, Director of the Global Health Institute at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said, "The question is: how do we do protesting safely? I think masks are a critical part of it." Theodore Long, a doctor affiliated with New York's contact tracing strategy, echoed Jha's point, and advocated "proper hand hygiene and to the extent possible, socially distance". Many participants of the protests with potentially unclear current and prior-infection-status – including some police officers – did not wear a face mask at all times, or adhere to other public safety guidelines.
George Floyd's family encouraged those attending the official public memorial to wear masks and gloves, as did multiple officials, including Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney who asked demonstrators to follow social distancing guidelines, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who asked protesters to wear masks, and Minnesota's governor who warned that "too many" protesters were not applying physical person-to-person distances or wearing masks.
Overcrowded jailsHundreds of people arrested by police in New York City – including both peaceful demonstrators and persons accused of violence – were detained in overcrowded, sometimes unsanitary holding cells, sometimes without face masks, prompting concerns over jail-spread COVID-19 cases. The Legal Aid Society sued the New York City Police Department, accusing it of detaining people for extended periods in violation of New York state law requiring that arrests receive arraignments within 24 hours. The department acknowledged that "it was common for up to two dozen people to be held for hours on buses before being taken to be booked" due to large backlogs and paperwork delays and that social distancing was impossible within jails, but a state trial court denied Legal Aid's request, given the "crisis within a crisis".
Other factorsThe use of tear gas may increase the spread of the virus due to coughing and lung damage. Smoke and pepper spray may also increase its spread. Shouting and speaking loudly, which are common to both violent and non-violent protests, may also cause infections at distances greater than. Research has found that the share of infections due to a single infected person in a choir can be almost 90%, and that just a few contagious people can infect hundreds of susceptible people around them. Outdoor events may have a substantially lower risk of spreading the disease than indoor ones, and the "transient" moments of people moving around may be less-hazardous than longer durations of proximity.
Debate over weighing of risksOver 1,200 medical staff signed a letter criticizing what they called "emerging narratives that seemed to malign demonstrations as risky for the public health because of Covid-19." The letter writers wrote:
Staying at home, social distancing, and public masking are effective at minimizing the spread of COVID-19. To the extent possible, we support the application of these public health best practices during demonstrations that call attention to the pervasive lethal force of white supremacy. However, as public health advocates, we do not condemn these gatherings as risky for COVID-19 transmission. We support them as vital to the national public health and to the threatened health specifically of Black people in the United States. We can show that support by facilitating safest protesting practices without detracting from demonstrators' ability to gather and demand change. This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders.
Most protesters in Minneapolis interviewed by Wired magazine said they "participated with full knowledge of the health risks, and believe police brutality to be an even more urgent existential threat". Dr. Tom Frieden, a former CDC director, said that if trust in government "is undermined by violent policing, or it's undermined by ham-handed public health actions that don't respect communities, that's going to have a negative impact on our ability to fight disease." Frieden has faced considerable backlash for these remarks, most notably from Jonah Goldberg.
Criticisms also arose of health officials and physicians potentially "politicizing science," as officials have given varying responses for different protests. Thomas Chatterton Williams said "the public health narrative around coronavirus... reversed itself overnight" in the wake of the protests.
Preliminary resultsResearchers reported that the protests did not appear to be driving an increase in coronavirus transmission. A study issued in June 2020 by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private non-profit organization, found "no evidence that urban protests reignited COVID-19 case growth during the more than three weeks following protest onset", as well as "no evidence that net COVID-19 case growth differentially rose following the onset of Black Lives Matter protests, and even modest evidence of a small longer-run case growth decline." Epidemiologists and other researchers suggested the protests had a relatively low impact on COVID-19 transmission because the protests took place outdoors where the virus is less likely to spread as compared to indoors; because many protesters wore masks; and because persons who demonstrated made up a small portion of the overall U.S. population.
Authorities did not see increases in coronavirus cases as a result of the protests in New York City, or in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, Washington. Minnesota launched an effort to test people who demonstrated, and found that 1.5% tested positive. Similarly in Massachusetts, fewer than 3% tested positive. On June 17 and 18, Massachusetts administered free COVID-19 testing and reported that 2.5% tested positive, which was "reasonably consistent" with the general population testing positive at 1.9%. In King County, Washington, less than 5% of 1,008 total positive cases were traced by health investigators to persons who attended a protest. In contrast, the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health asserted on June 22 that it was "highly likely" that a surge in cases is connected to the protests, as well as the lifting of the county stay-at-home order.
Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University found that, of three modeled scenarios with mask-wearing and open air suppressing transmission, "the most optimistic scenario turned out to be most accurate." However, Shaman and other researchers and officials caution that protesters are disproportionately young, and less likely to become ill, and there is significant uncertainty about the effect of various factors. While many states in the U.S. saw record highs of new cases, these upticks are thought to be attributed to reopenings of workplaces, bars, restaurants, and other businesses.
In June, a large number of Houston Police Department officers tested positive for the virus or were quarantined after being exposed; police chief Art Acevedo said that none of the officers were seriously ill, and suggested that business reopenings in Texas were more likely the cause of the spread among officers than protest duty, saying "We opened up the state very quickly, especially bars and, you know, I can't control what people do off duty." Members of the D.C. National Guard have also tested positive for COVID-19 after protests.
ReactionsMany countries, companies, organizations, and celebrities worldwide sent messages of concern about the George Floyd killing and protests. Some television channels blacked out regular programming for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in solidarity with the protests while some celebrities and companies made donations to racial justice organizations. Some politicians also participated in the protests, while others called for protesters to refrain from violence.
U.S. president Donald Trump demanded that state governors "dominate" protesters, and tweeted "when the looting starts, the shooting starts", a sentiment which Twitter marked as inciting violence. Trump later said he was not advocating violence, noting that the tweet could be read as either a threat or a statement of fact and that he intended for it to be read as "a combination of both". Trump controversially deployed various federal law enforcement agencies, the District of Columbia National Guard, and the Arlington County Police Department to clear Lafayette Square and surrounding streets for a photo-op at St. John's Church.