‘A painful year’: How George Floyd’s murder shook the world

·5-min read
<p>A woman holds a picture of George Floyd at a remembrance march in Minneapolis on Sunday</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

A woman holds a picture of George Floyd at a remembrance march in Minneapolis on Sunday

(AFP via Getty Images)

Today marks one year since George Floyd, a black man, was killed when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes.

His death sparked worldwide condemnation and protests with calls for change in policing in the US. Chauvin, who is white, was convicted of murder and manslaughter over the death.

The following is a timeline of the flash points since Floyd’s death:

May 25 - George Floyd’s death

Minneapolis Police respond to calls shortly after 8pm from a corner shop about a possible forgery with a counterfeit $20 note.

Chauvin pins Floyd to the ground with his knee on his neck for nine minutes, despite Floyd repeatedly pleading “I can’t breathe”. He stayed in the position as several members of the public called police and begged him to stop.

Floyd later dies at hospital.

The murder was filmed by Darnella Frazier, 18, who was walking to a convenience store with her younger cousin when she came upon the officers arresting Floyd.

The witness, who later gave evidence at Chauvin’s trial, sent her cousin into the store because she did not want her to see "a man terrified, scared, begging for his life".

Of Chauvin she said: "He just stared at us, looked at us. He had like this cold look, heartless. He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying."

Another witness Donald Williams, a former wrestler, phoned 911 and described seeing Mr Floyd struggle for air and his eyes roll back into his head.

He said he watched Mr Floyd "slowly fade away... like a fish in a bag".

May 26- Chauvin fired

The next day police tried to dismiss the death issuing a statement saying Floyd died after a “medical incident,” and that he physically resisted and appeared to be in medical distress.

Minutes later, the shocking video was posted online and police released another statement saying the FBI will help investigate the death. Chauvin and three other officers—Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao—are fired, sparking nationwide protests.

May 29 — Chauvin arrested and charged

 (Hennepin County Jail/AFP via Getty Images)
(Hennepin County Jail/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump tweets about “thugs” in Minneapolis protests and warns: “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Protests increase in Minneapolis and other cities.

A law enforcement officer is killed and another injured after they were shot as 8,000 protesters marched through California. Days before another teenager was killed in Detroit after shots were fired on a crowd of people.

June - A summer of UK protests

John Boyega at Black Lives Matter protest (Evening Standard)
John Boyega at Black Lives Matter protest (Evening Standard)

On June 3, Star Wars actor John Boyega was among those to speak at a rally before protesters, many wearing masks and holding placards, marched on Westminster.

Boyega paid tribute to George Floyd, adding: “I need you to understand how painful this s**t is.

“I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case anymore.”

Activists chanted “black lives matter” and “we will not be silent” at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, in a peaceful protest before tensions escalated outside Downing Street.

After a peaceful start to the day bottles and objects were thrown at officers and physical altercations broke out as tensions rose later in the afternoon.

Thousands of people ignored Priti Patel’s pleas to avoid further protests in London in the grips of a pandemic.

Speaking on Sky News, the Home Secretary addressed those intending to protest saying: "Please don’t. We must put public health first."

September 18 – Intersection named after Floyd

A crowd gathers at George Floyd Square (AP)
A crowd gathers at George Floyd Square (AP)

The Minneapolis City Council unanimously votes to rename an intersection near the location of Floyds’ arrest ‘George Floyd Square’.

October 7 – Chauvin posts bail

Chauvin posts $1 million bail and is released from prison, sparking further unrest and protests. Days later, the court announces he will be able to leave Minnesota for a neighbouring state due to safety concerns.

October 14 – Floyd’s birthday celebrated

Angela Harrelson (left), aunt of George Floyd, and Paris Stevens (centre), cousin of George Floyd, sing along as Nico Moore (right) leads people while singing
Angela Harrelson (left), aunt of George Floyd, and Paris Stevens (centre), cousin of George Floyd, sing along as Nico Moore (right) leads people while singing

Friends, family and supporters of Floyd gather at the newly named George Floyd Square to celebrate what would have been his 47th birthday.

April 21- Derek Chauvin convicted of murder

Chauvin, 45, was immediately led away with his hands cuffed behind his back and could be sent to prison for decades.

The verdict — guilty as charged on all counts, in a relatively swift, across-the-board victory for Floyd’s supporters — set off jubilation mixed with sorrow across the city and around the nation.

Hundreds of people poured into the streets of Minneapolis, some running through traffic with banners. Drivers blared their horns in celebration.

“Today, we are able to breathe again,” Floyd’s younger brother Philonise said at a joyous family news conference where tears streamed down his face as he likened Floyd to the 1955 Mississippi lynching victim Emmett Till.

A Minnesota judge later ruled that there were aggravating factors in the death of George Floyd, paving the way for the possibility of a longer sentence for Derek Chauvin, according to an order made public Wednesday.

Even with the aggravating factors, legal experts have said Chauvin, 45, is unlikely to get more than 30 years when he is sentenced June 25.

A year on - The Floyd Family meet with Joe Biden

Ahead of the year anniversary of Floyd’s death hundreds, including members of Floyd’s family and activists, gathered in front of a courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, where police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder a month ago, carrying signs with pictures of Floyd, Philando Castile and other Black men killed by police.

"It has been a long year. It has been a painful year,” said Floyd’s sister Bridgett.

“It has been very frustrating for me and my family for our lives to change in the blink of an eye — I still don’t know why."

President Joe Biden will host George Floyd’s family at the White House to mark the first anniversary of his death.

Biden’s plans to host Floyd’s family come, however, as talks focused on the police reform bill named after Floyd —the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act— have stalled on Capitol Hill. Biden had previously set the anniversary of Floyd’s death as the deadline for the bill’s passage, and left much of the negotiations up to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, but there’s been little movement on the legislation in recent weeks.

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