‘I can’t breathe’: Who’s George Floyd, the man whose death sparked massive protests in US
On May 25, police officers in the city of Minneapolis in Minnesota USA arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a retail establishment employee accused him of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 note.
Seventeen minutes after, Floyd was unconscious and pinned on the road beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life. Just before he lost his consciousness, he, as per a video, is seen telling the police officer that “I can’t breathe.” All this time, the officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as onlookers called out for help. Floyd was later declared dead in a local hospital.
His death has sparked protests across the US, with demonstrators desperately calling for an end to police violence. Derek Chauvin, the officer who had pinned him, has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, while three other officers involved in the incident were sacked.
As per latest updates, multiple fires broke out near the White House late on Sunday evening, as angry protesters gathered in Washington DC for the third night in a row following the death of Floyd. Sunday evening’s protests in front of the White House started relatively cheerfully, with a crowd of a few thousand. Earlier in the day, demonstrators had marched through the city’s downtown, chanting “George Floyd! Say his name!” and “No Justice! No Peace!”
As per reports in the US media, Floyd had moved to Minneapolis after being released from prison and was known as a “gentle giant” who was trying to turn his life around. The 46-year-old was born in North Carolina and lived in Houston, Texas, when he was younger but moved to Minneapolis several years ago to find work.
He was known to loved ones as “Big Floyd” and was the father to a six-year-old daughter who lives in Houston with her mother, Roxie Washington. Floyd was a talented athlete who particularly excelled in football and basketball at school. After he struggled to find work in Houston, he left the city for Minneapolis. There, he worked two jobs, one driving trucks and another as a security guard at Latin American restaurant Conga Latin Bistro.
According to court documents, Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a “home invasion”. He was sentenced to five years in prison after a plea deal in 2009. In a recent video on social media, he spoke out against gun violence, saying: “Our young generation is clearly lost”.