The intersection of East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue is the outer edge of the Longfellow neighborhood, and is now a war zone in the aftermath of the suffocation killing of George Floyd by Police Officer Derek Chauvin who knelt on his neck while Floyd lost consciousness and became unresponsive. The protests began calling for Justice for George right away, and demanding charges be filed against the four officers involved in addition to Chauvin, Tou Thao, Chauvin’s partner who stood by and watched, along with Thomas Lane, and J Alexander Kueng, who kept people away from the scene as Floyd died in the street. This set the stage for the mounting frustrations for lack of charges now in the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman (DFL).
Last night, violence erupted. On the Southeast corner of East Lake Street sits the Minneapolis Police 3rd precinct, across East Lake is a Target store now looted, the Cub Foods across the parking lot set on fire, on the Northwest corner is a burned-out Wendy’s and AutoZone, across Minnehaha Lake Wine and Spirits looted and new apartment construction was burned to the ground. All the while, the protestors and the vandals are somewhat protected from identification because they are wearing masks to hide their identities as per the COVID-19 pandemic instructions.
This is a scene reminiscent of Watts Riots in the 1965 or the LA Riots after the police beating of Rodney King in 1991, but not the common occurrence here in Minnesota. Protests here are usually nonviolent, and block traffic, but in this case the public rage has boiled over and of course opportunists take advantage in the chaos.
Mayor Jacob Frey (DFL-Minneapolis) has called on Governor Tim Walz (DFL-MN) to call out the National Guard to protect the population, while at the same time recognizing Chauvin as a killer.
Walz addressed the Floyd death at the start of his latest COVID-19 update press conference and also expressed his support for peaceful protests in light of the tragedy and more than once called for justice for Mr Floyd. He was joined by Lt Governor Peggy Flangan (DFL-MN) remotely, Attorney General Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) and Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington for this portion of the announcement and later by Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm.
Walz’ statement begins at 2:21 and ends at 5:15 in the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79eENQ95CjM In it he said, “Like so many Minnesotan’s and so many people across the world, I was shocked and horrified by the video of George Floyd’s death. It’s very clear to anyone, what happened to George Floyd is wrong and the lack of humanity in the video, as I said, made me ill and even more difficult to understand. I want to be very clear, my heart goes out to Mr Floyd’s family and friends. Gwen and I express our deepest sympathies to those who knew and loved Mr Floyd. I can never know what you are experiencing right now. I can only imagine the loss and enormous hole in your life is unbearable…”
We are beset is this time of tragedy to find ways to ease the pain which is emblematic of the oppression felt by members of the black community. One interesting fact is, Chauvin is like many members of law enforcement who fail to live in the areas they police, protesters gather outside his home in Oakdale and call for his arrest.
US Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) joined with Congresswomen Ilhan Omar (D-MN05) and Betty McCollum (D-MN04) in sending a letter to U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman calling for accountability for George Floyd’s death. McDonald has started an investigation.
Donald J Trump (R) put out the following Tweet “
At my request, the FBI and the Department of Justice are already well into an investigation as to the very sad and tragic death in Minnesota of George Floyd….”