George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul

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George Floyd protests
in Minneapolis–Saint Paul
Part of George Floyd protests
Protesters marching in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020, the day after Floyd's death. A protester's sign reads, "Justice for George Floyd" and "#I CANT BREATHE".
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Lake Street (49957255132).jpg
Lake Street cleanup (49957243172).jpg
Clockwise from top
  • Protesters march in Minneapolis on May 26, 2020
  • Police station set ablaze
  • Volunteers clean up
  • Ruins on East Lake Street
  • Tear gas fired on protesters
DateMay 26, 2020 – present (1 year, 3 weeks and 3 days)
Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Minnesota
Caused by
MethodsRiots, demonstrations, civil disobedience, civil resistance, public art
StatusProlonged local unrest
  • Calvin Horton Jr.[4]
  • Oscar Lee Stewart Jr.[5]
Arrested604 from May 27, 2020—June 2, 2020[6]
51 on October 7, 2020[7]
DamageBy June 19, 2020:
$550 million[8]
1,500 property locations[9]
150 buildings set on fire[9]

The George Floyd protests in Minneapolis–Saint Paul began in the U.S. state of Minnesota on May 26, 2020, as a response to the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds[14] as three other officers assisted during an arrest.[15][16][17] Civil unrest in Minneapolis—sometimes called the Minneapolis riots[18] or Minneapolis uprising[19]—spilled over into Saint Paul and other locations in Minnesota and quickly inspired a global protest movement against police brutality and racial inequality.[20][21]

Over a three-night period from May 27 to May 29, 2020, Minneapolis sustained extraordinary damage from rioting and looting—largely along a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch of Lake Street south of downtown[22]—including the demise of the city's third police precinct building, which was overrun by demonstrators and set on fire.[23] At cost of $350 million,[24] approximately 1,300 properties in Minneapolis were damaged by the rioting and looting,[25] of which nearly 100 were entirely destroyed.[26] Neighboring Saint Paul suffered damages that totaled $82 million and affected 330 buildings, including 37 that were heavily damaged or entirely destroyed, mostly along the city's University Avenue business corridor.[27] Minnesota Governor Tim Walz activated the Minnesota National Guard in response to the riots, which resulted in the largest deployment of its forces since World War II.[28] By early June, violence in the Twin Cities metropolitan region had resulted in at least 2 deaths,[29] 604 arrests, and upwards of $550 million[8] in damage to approximately 1,500 properties, the second-most destructive period of local unrest in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots.[30][9][31][32] Violent riots in Minneapolis–Saint Paul over the death of George Floyd largely subsided after May 30, 2020.[23][33]

The community responded to the initial wave of unrest with an outpouring of donations, food drives, volunteer cleanup efforts, and public art installments,[34][35] but the riots worsened local economic conditions and disproportionately impacted store owners and the cities' most vulnerable residents, who were already impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota.[36][27][37] Many small business owners were unable to recover losses from looting and arson and found the rebuilding process was too slow. As available recovery funds were quickly exhausted, Minneapolis and Saint Paul officials sought state and federal support for recovery efforts.[27] Minneapolis also experienced a sharp increase in violent crime after Floyd's death[38] that disproportionately affected Black residents in the city.[39]

A police abolition movement in Minneapolis sought commitment from public officials for a strategy to defund the city's police force.[23][33] Local protests and unrest over Floyd's death broadened to other issues of racial injustice and continued into 2021 in the Twin Cities. Protesters still sought justice for Floyd and accountability for the four Minneapolis police officers deemed responsible for his death. The George Floyd Square occupation protest at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd was arrested and died persisted into 2021.[40][41]


Murder of George Floyd[edit]

George Floyd was an unarmed African-American man who died while he was being detained by police in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, shortly after 8:00 p.m. CDT, near the Cup Foods grocery store at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds, while other officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao assisted with the arrest and held concerned onlookers back.[42] Floyd could be heard repeatedly on a bystander's video saying: "I can't breathe", "Please", and "Mama". He appeared unconscious at the scene,[43] and was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. after being transported by an ambulance to the Hennepin County Medical Center emergency room.[44]

Racial disparities in Minnesota[edit]

The conditions that led to the uprising in Minneapolis were said to be the result of years of disinvestment and abandonment of the area around Lake Street in Minneapolis and city officials ignoring the needs of the community's black residents.[45] By the beginning of the 21st century, Minneapolis was home to some of the largest racial disparities in the United States. The city's population of people of color and Indigenous people fared worse than the city's white population for many measures of well-being, such as health outcomes, academic achievement, income, and home ownership. The result of discriminatory policies and racism over the course of the city's history, racial disparity was described as the most significant issue facing Minneapolis in the first decades of the 2000s.[46]

By 2015, homeownership rates in the Twin Cities were 75 percent for white families, but only 23 percent for black families, one of the largest disparities in the nation. By 2018, unemployment for blacks in Minnesota had reached a historic low of 6.9 percent, but it was still three times higher than the rate for whites.[45] Though black residents made up just 6 percent of Minnesota's population, they were nearly 37 percent of the state's prison population in 2016.[47] By the 2020s, generations of the city's black residents had been unable to experience the same levels of comforts and asset accumulation as the white residents.[45]

Prior killings of residents by police[edit]

George Floyd's death was just the latest instance of police violence in Minneapolis, where 11 people were killed by police officers between 2010 and 2020, including Floyd.[45] In 2015, the shooting of Jamar Clark, a black man, by a Minneapolis police officer led to controversy and protests; it was later determined by prosecutors that the officers had acted in self defense and no charges were filed. In 2016, the shooting of Philando Castile, a black man, in nearby Falcon Heights resulted in several weeks of protests and unrest; the resulting criminal case ended with a jury acquittal for the involved officer after a 10-month process.[19] In 2017, the shooting of Justine Damond, a white woman, led to a 12-year prison sentence for the police officer, a black man, who shot her.[45]

In instances where Minneapolis police officers attempted to justify the aggressive use of force against residents, a pattern emerged in which the police department would release officer statements that were later contradicted by video and other evidence, as revealed by several civil rights and wrongful death lawsuits.[48] Some felt that the judicial system was inconsistent in that it did not hold white police officers who killed black men accountable for their actions; the video of Floyd begging for relief while being pinned by Chauvin generated further concern and anger from both white and black residents in the city.[49] Floyd's death was also the third in a string of widely reported and highly publicized incidents in which unarmed black Americans were killed in 2020, including Ahmaud Arbery in Atlanta on February 23 and Breonna Taylor in Louisville on March 13. It was unclear if demonstrators were angered only by the graphic video of Floyd's death or by the culmination of recent incidents in the United States.[50]

Distrust of Minneapolis police[edit]

By 2020, the relationship between the Minneapolis Police Department and the community, particularly the city's black residents, had deteriorated significantly. Several killings of residents by police officers and alleged displays of racial insensitivity by police leaders contributed to the tension.[51][49][52] In the city's Powderhorn Park neighborhood, where Floyd was killed, some argued there was a persisting distrust between the police and black community.[51]

The head of the police union representing Minneapolis officers, Bob Kroll, was a continuing source of controversy, having called Black Lives Matter a "terrorist organization" in 2016 after the officers involved in Clark's death were cleared of wrongdoing.[51] His appearance at a political rally for Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2019 generated controversy when Kroll said that Trump would “let cops do their job, put the handcuffs on the criminals instead of [on] us”. Controversy had also erupted when police officers put up a "ghetto" Christmas tree at the fourth police precinct station in 2018.[52]

The police department had a history of not holding officers accountable for complaints and disciplinary actions. Of the 80 officers fired for misconduct in the 20 years prior to the murder of Floyd, half were able to be reinstated. As a police officer with the department, Chauvin had received 17 complaints, but only faced discipline once.[53]

Protests and riots[edit]

A protester in Minneapolis carries an "I can't breathe" sign, May 26, 2020

Tuesday, May 26, 2020[edit]

Initial reactions to Floyd's death[edit]

At 12:41 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26, Minneapolis police released a statement about the arrest and death of Floyd several hours prior.[54] They said that a suspected money forger had "physically resisted" arrest and suffered "medical distress" after being handcuffed by officers, leading to his death. The statement made no mention that Floyd was unarmed or that he had been pinned on his neck by Chauvin's knee for several minutes.[55][56] At about the same time the police released their initial statement, Darnella Frazier, a bystander at the scene of Floyd’s arrest earlier, uploaded a 10-minute video of the incident to Facebook. The graphic video captured Floyd—while laying face down, handcuffed, and pinned by Chauvin's knee—saying he couldn’t breathe and begging for his life as he lost consciousness. The video quickly went viral.[57]

Official reaction came early in the morning. By 3:11 a.m. the police department said that Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would join their investigate of the incident.[54] Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey held a 6:45 a.m. press conference, and said in reaction to the bystander video he had seen, “What we saw was horrible. Completely and utterly messed up.”[54] By mid morning several public officials released statements condemning what they viewed in the bystander's video. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said it was "vile and heartbreaking" and all of the officers present at the scene of Floyd's arrest should be held accountable. U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar called for an independent investigation. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz promised, "We will get answers and seek justice."[54] The four officers at the scene of Floyd's death were placed on paid administrative leave, a standard protocol, pending further investigation.[58][59]

The Minneapolis police department's initial characterization of Floyd's death, which may have been intended to defuse tension, was perceived as being radically different than what was recorded on bystander videos and it fueled public outrage.[48]

Organized protests emerge[edit]

A memorial at the site of George Floyd's death, May 26, 2020

By late morning a makeshift memorial had been set up at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in the Minneapolis, the street intersection where the incident with Floyd and the Minneapolis police took place.[55][54] The first organized protests emerged at the same location by midday.[55] Some of the gathered protesters chanted, "I can't breathe, I can't breathe", words repeated multiple times by Floyd in the viral video.[60] Many people carried homemade signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Killing Black People,” and “I Can’t Breathe.”[58] As more details about the May 25 incident between Floyd and the police were known, thousands more rallied at the intersection outside the Cup Food store, and organizers emphasized keeping the protest peaceful.[61][58]

Police officers fired[edit]

Frey and Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo held an afternoon press conference to express solidarity with the community's growing sense of anger about the arrest incident. Frey called for charges to be filed against the involved officers who killed Floyd, and said, "Whatever the investigation reveals, it does not change the simple truth that he should be with us this morning." Arradondo added, "Being Black in America should not be a death sentence."[22]

In an unprecedented move in Minneapolis for swiftness, Arradondo fired the four officers who had been present at the scene of Floyd's arrest and death, a move supported by Frey.[58] Protesters and Floyd's family called for murder charges for all four officers involved and swift judicial consequences, as the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also opened an investigation of the incident. Bob Kroll, president of the Minneapolis police officer's union, said the firing of the officers occurred without due process and offered "full support of the officers" during the investigations.[62][63][64] Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the official responsible for bringing criminal charges against the police officers, promised an expedited review of the case.[58]

Protests intensify[edit]

Protesters outside the Minneapolis third police precinct, May 26, 2020

The tone of protests, which were peaceful initially, shifted that afternoon.[65][22] Just before dusk, the protest rally at the location of Floyd's death became a two-mile (3.2 km), peaceful march[58] to the Minneapolis Police Department's third precinct police station where the four involved officers worked.[60][61][23] At the station, protesters rallied peacefully with megaphones and signs on the steps at the building's entrance. The main protest group disbanded later in the evening. A smaller group that broke away from the main protest breached the fence of the station parking lot, vandalized the building with graffiti, threw rocks and bottles at officers, broke a window of the building, and broke a window of an unoccupied police car. Some protesters tried to stop the vandalism, with a scuffle breaking out in the crowd.[22][23]

Recently elected city council member Jeremiah Ellison, who had participated in prior protests against the police after the killing of black men, advised the mayor to not interfere with those vandalizing police property, hoping to spare the surrounding neighborhood from further description.[22] Police Chief Arradondo eventually ordered forces to respond, and police officers fired tear gas and rubber bullets to push demonstrators back, even at those who were not being violent. He later told reporters that he made the decision because some officers kept weapons in their vehicles that could be taken.[23][61] In response to being fired upon, demonstrators threw rocks, water bottles, and miscellaneous objects towards the officers. The unruly crowd clashing with the police at this point was measured in the hundreds, a noted contrast from the larger, peaceful group gathered earlier in the day, who were estimated to number in the thousands.[60][61] Many protesters viewed the police response to the vandalism as an overreaction that only made the crowd angrier.[23]

A separate group of protesters gathered outside the Oakdale home of Derek Chauvin that night.[60]

Wednesday, May 27, 2020[edit]

Police and protesters stand off outside the third precinct station in Minneapolis, May 27, 2020

Peaceful protests resume[edit]

Protests in Minneapolis continued on Wednesday, May 27, at several locations throughout the city. At the location where Floyd died, protesters were led through prayer and a series of chants. By late morning, a group of protesters blocked the nearby intersection as they repeated, "Whose streets? Our streets." Some protesters left memorials by the Cup Foods store, while some spray painted the words "Justice for Floyd" and "Black Lives Matter" on the street surface. No police were present and the scene was described as peaceful.[66]

Looting, arson, and violence[edit]

In the afternoon, at an AutoZone store at East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue, across the intersection from the third police precinct station, a masked man carrying an umbrella and a hammer was recorded on video breaking windows and spray-painting graffiti which encouraged looting.[23][67] The investigation remained open in 2021.[68] The abrupt attack came during a mostly calm demonstration at the street intersection of the police station. Some protesters confronted the masked man and asked him to stop.[67] The situation near the third police precinct station worsened when a nearby Target store was extensively looted by a crowd of about 100 people.[69] Later in the evening, the same AutoZone store became the first building to be set on fire during the unrest.[67][70] Some protesters attempted to put out the AutoZone fire, while others celebrated and took selfies.[71]

Broken windows of an AutoZone store on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, May 27, 2020

Violence escalated by nightfall. One mile (1.6 km) from the main protest site near the city's third police precinct building, Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year-old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot by a pawnshop owner who believed he was burglarizing his business.[4][72] Including Horton, five people were struck by gunfire in Minneapolis that night, but he was the only reported fatality.[71][73]

Local officials react and plan[edit]

Frey made an emotional plea just before midnight, saying, "Please, please, Minneapolis. We cannot let tragedy beget more tragedy. The activity around Lake and Hiawatha is now unsafe. Please, help us keep the peace. ..."[73]

Frey also reached out to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz that night and requested the help of the Minnesota National Guard, but the city government was reportedly unaware of the timeline and logistics of troop deployment, and relegated tactical coordination to the police force.[22] However, knowing that it would take some time for the National Guard to mobilize, Frey and city leaders began discussing ways to deescalate the situation with demonstrators.[23]

Minneapolis City Council member Andrew Johnson, who represented the area by the third police precinct station, blamed the police for the unfolding destruction, saying "It looked like they were defending the Alamo and letting the community burn", in reference to the police presence and tactics at the police station building.[23]

Council member Jeremiah Ellison said in a media interview that night that the police should "sacrifice" the station, while council member Linea Palmisano expressed privately to a city official about Ellison's remarks that such a move would result in "ultimate chaos".[23]

Midtown Corner, an under-construction apartment complex, on fire in Minneapolis, May 27, 2020

Destruction spreads overnight[edit]

Looting and property destruction were widespread in Minneapolis that night.[73] The heaviest destruction, however, was in the vicinity of the third precinct station near Minnehaha Avenue and East Lake Street,[73] where the fire at an AutoZone store led to a series of other fires and looting at nearby.[4][72][70] Among the losses to fire that night was Midtown Corner, an under-construction, $30 million redevelopment project for 189 units of affordable housing, which was destroyed by fire after being torched. Across the street, the manufacturing facility for 7-Sigma, a local high-tech company, also suffered extensive fire damage and part of the building collapsed.[74] The response from firefighters in the area was delayed as crews required police escorts for protection from rioters.[22] The Minneapolis fire department responded to approximately 30 fires overnight.[70]

Looting, which first began at the Target store near the third precinct police station, spread to a nearby Cub Foods grocery store, and to several liquor stores, pharmacies, and other businesses across the city.[71]

Thursday, May 28, 2020[edit]

Government mobilization[edit]

Aftermath of looting at the Cub Foods store near East Lake Street in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020

At a press conference, Chief Arradondo remarked that, in his view, the majority of protests the previous day were peaceful, but were "hijacked" by some who were looting and vandalizing businesses.[75] Minneapolis city officials hoped that the worst had already passed.[22]

To quell riotous behavior, Mayor Frey declared a state of emergency to allow for more flexibility in the city's response.[76] Frey and Arradondo also began quietly preparing for the contingency of surrendering the third precinct station in Minneapolis if violence escalated. Few people knew of the plan outside of some officers stationed there and nearby business owners who had heard rumors and noticed the station's parking lot being emptied.[23]

Businesses throughout the Twin Cities spent the day boarding up windows and doors to prevent looting. Among them, the Target Corporation announced closures for all of its area stores. Saint Paul police officers armed with batons and gas masks patrolled the city's busiest commercial corridor and kept looters out of a Target store while other business windows were smashed. Minneapolis preemptively shut down its light-rail system and bus service through Sunday out of safety concerns. Officials pleaded with metro area residents to stay home that night to prevent further property destruction. African American Saint Paul mayor Melvin Carter said, "Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again."[77]

At 4 p.m. CDT, Governor Walz formally activated 500 National Guard troops and deployed them to the Twin Cities area, at the request of city leaders.[23] Walz commented, "George Floyd's death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction." Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan added, "the demonstration last night became incredibly unsafe for all involved. The purpose of the National Guard is to protect people, to protect people safely demonstrating, and to protect small business owners."[78][76] Walz also said it would take guard troops a few days to fully mobilize.[23]

Delay of officer criminal charges[edit]

Protest march in downtown Minneapolis, May 28, 2020

State and federal prosecutors called a press conference in the late afternoon at a regional FBI office in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb. It was anticipated that there they might reveal a major development in the case against the officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death.[79] After a long delay, however, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman, the local official with jurisdiction to bring forth criminal charges for police misconduct, announced that his office needed more time to investigate[22] and that there was other evidence that might result in no criminal charges being filed.[80] In responding to the anticipation created by the media briefing and its two-hour delayed start, U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald said, "I thought we would have another development to talk to you about, but we don't".[79]

Weeks later, on June 9, it was revealed that state and federal prosecutors — on the afternoon of the delayed press conference — had been trying to negotiate a plea deal with former officer Derek Chauvin that would have included state murder charges and federal civil rights charges.[79] Chauvin believed that the case against him was so devastating that he agreed to plead guilty to third-degree murder. As part of the deal, he was willing to go to prison for more than 10 years. The deal fell apart at the last minute after William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General at the time, rejected the arrangement fearing that it would be viewed as too lenient by protestors. The deal was contingent on the federal government's approval because Chauvin, who had asked to serve his time in a federal prison, wanted assurance he would not face federal civil rights charges. Details about the potential plea agreement were not publicly known during the initial period of unrest.[81]

Transition from peaceful to destructive demonstrations[edit]

Several stores set ablaze on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, May 28, 2020

Thousands of people march peacefully in the streets of Minneapolis and called for justice for George Floyd during the day.[82] Sporadic looting was reported in the afternoon in Saint Paul's Midway neighborhood.[58] A crowd of about at thousand people rallied in the early evening at the Hennepin County Government Center building in Minneapolis, and then marched through the city's downtown area where store fronts had been boarded up and the state patrol maintained a heavy presence. No violence was reported.[83]

Hundreds of demonstrators returned to the area near the third precinct police station, where Frey and Arradondo had deliberately reduced the street presence of the police.[82] By the evening, police reports said the crowd was "engaged in peaceful activity" as some were said to be grilling, listening to music, and socializing. It was not until after sunset that the crowd grew more restless,[23] when looting of a nearby Target store resumed and a vehicle and building were set on fire.[82]

Multiple large, mobile crowds and chaos were reported across the city by nightfall. A crowd of 1,500 protesters were marching through a downtown shopping district in Minneapolis where there were 400 state troopers present.[83] The tension escalated when another large crowd advanced on the city's first police precinct station near Hennepin Avenue and 5th Street. Demonstrators there shot off fireworks and stood off against a line of Minneapolis police officers who fired tear gas.[83] Other protesters marched on the Interstate 35W highway.[83] Smaller crowds gathered elsewhere.[83] "We were defending an entire city with 600 officers against thousands and thousands of protestors," Frey later said of the events.[84]

The intensity of demonstrations increased as dozens of businesses were looted and set on fire on East Lake Street in Minneapolis near the city's third police precinct station. Looters broke into a liquor store across the street from the police station, passed out bottles to the crowd, and then set the store on fire.[22][84] The nearby Max It Pawn store was set on fire as it was being looted. Bystanders discovered that a person was trapped inside the building, but were unable to help guide them out after frantically removing some plywood from windows and shining flashlights inside. Fire crews that arrived later found the building too unstable for a rescue operation into the structure.[85] The charred remains of the victim, the second death during the unrest, were not recovered until nearly two months later.[29] The victim, Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a 30-year-old man from Burnsville, Minnesota, died from smoke inhalation and burn injuries sustained that night, according to an autopsy report.[5][86]

Loss of the third precinct police station[edit]

Demonstrators surround the Minneapolis police third precinct station as it is engulfed in flames, May 28, 2020

Late that night the focus of demonstrators shifted to the Minneapolis third precinct police station building at the intersection of East Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue.[82] Some protesters threw objects at the officers guarding the building, who responded by firing rubber bullets in the crowd.[23] Demonstrators began tearing down fencing that surrounded the precinct station and police responded with tear gas.[82][77] As tensions and fires in the area mounted, Frey gave the order to evacuate the station, a tactic he later said was to deescalate the situation and prevent further loss of life.[82][77] Despite the evacuation order there were still at least 13 police officers in the building with some reportedly sending texts to loved ones in fear for their lives.[87]

Officers retreating from the building loaded into squad vehicles and had to crash through a parking lot gate as it been padlocked at some point by protesters. Demonstrators then moved in and threw bottles and debris at the fleeing officers who eventually made their way to a rendezvous site three blocks away. At 10:13 p.m. CDT, chief Arradondo announced over police radio, “City wide tone right now, for the loss of the Third Precinct”.[84] After that moment, there was no police, fire, or emergency medical services presence in the area where the riots occurred as live television news broadcast scenes of escalating destruction.[88]

As chaos grew at the police station, hundreds of people in the crowd shouted, "Burn it down! Burn it down!" Demonstrators tore away fencing intended to stop trespassers from entering the building.[89] Two men lit a Molotov cocktail and one took it into the building. Other demonstrators pushed materials into a fire at the building's entrance, intending to accelerate the flames.[89][82][77][90] Surrounded by an unruly crowd, the station burned until the early morning hours of May 29 when firefighting crews reached the area and eventually extinguished fires.[23]

The several-hundred-member contingent of state patrol and National Guard troops on the ground in Minneapolis that night primarily escorted fire trucks and protected a Federal Reserve building and areas of downtown Minneapolis. Walz later remarked that the city had not given directions specifying where to deploy troops as the violence escalated on East Lake Street.[22] State officials also remarked that the city's decision to abandon the precinct station was a misjudgment, allowing demonstrators to create a situation of "absolute chaos", in the words of Walz.[91]

In Saint Paul and elsewhere[edit]

Several businesses on fire along University Avenue in Saint Paul, May 28, 2020

In neighboring Saint Paul, which had been spared from widespread property destruction on Wednesday night, 170 businesses were damaged or looted and dozens of fires were started on Thursday. The largest fired burned at a liquor store near Allianz Field soccer stadium at Snelling and University avenues. No major injuries were reported.[83] The two shopping centers in Saint Paul near University Avenue, the Midway Shopping Center and Sun Ray Shopping Center, were looted.[50]

Looting and destruction reached several suburban communities in the Twin Cities. The Rosedale Center shopping mail in Roseville was looted.[50] People also broke into the Northtown Mall in Blaine that night, but police responded and secured the facility.[83] In Apple Valley, overnight from May 28 to May 29, two Minnesota men threw Molotov cocktails into a government service center in an attempt to burn it down.[92]

Just before midnight local time, President Donald Trump posted a controversial statement on Twitter in reaction to the events in Minneapolis. He said, "These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won't let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!"[93]

Friday, May 29, 2020[edit]

In a follow up to an earlier statement on Twitter, Trump said just after midnight, "I can’t stand back & watch this happen to a great American City, Minneapolis. A total lack of leadership. Either the very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey, get his act together and bring the City under control, or I will send in the National Guard & get the job done right….."[94]

Frey addressed the media at 1:30 a.m. CDT as the city was battling multiple fires and violence. He acknowledged the anger in the community over Floyd's death, but condemned the actions of rioters and looters. In defense of his decision to have police withdraw from the third precinct station to deescalate tension, he said, "Brick and mortar is not as important as life".[94] He also reacted to Trump's tweets and criticized the president for stoking tension and casting blame on officials during an active crisis event.[94]

By 2:30 a.m., Twitter had flagged Trump's earlier tweet that said “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” for glorifying violence, which its guidelines prohibited.[94][58]

Residents and Minnesota State Patrol officers on East Lake Street in Minneapolis, May 29, 2020

Streets cleared and curfews announced[edit]

At daybreak, National Guard troops and Minnesota State Patrol officers began clearing people out of the area of the third police precinct station in Minneapolis. At about 6:00 a.m., patrol officers arrested CNN reporter Omar Jimenez and his camera crew as they were filming a live news report on television. After intervention from Walz, the crew was released an hour later.[95][96]

Major-General Jon Jensen, the highest ranking officials in the Minnesota National Guard, expressed frustration form local leaders who had not clarified aspects of the mission.[58]

Governor Walz imposed a state curfew for the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul that would run from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. The order prohibited travel in streets or gathering at public places. Frey also issued an overlapping local curfew in Minneapolis.[97]

Chauvin charged, but other charges pending[edit]

In the late afternoon, Hennepin County Attorney Michael O. Freeman charged Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck as he died, with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. New charges for officers Lane, Kueng, and Thao, who were at the scene of Floyd's death, remained pending. Protesters who had demanded immediate murder charges against all four officers were disappointed; four days had already elapsed since Floyd's death. Many protestors intensified focus on the demand for criminal charges in their messaging that day.[98]

Violence resumes[edit]

Fire at a Wells Fargo bank on Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, May 29, 2020

The Target Corporation expanded its closure of stores to 73 in Minnesota with the violence not appearing to abate. The company said in a statement, "We are heartbroken by the death of George Floyd and the pain it is causing our community. At this time, we have made the decision to close a number of our stores until further notice. Our focus will remain on our team members’ safety and helping our community heal."[99]

The de-escalation strategy of abandoning the third precinct station the previous night was said to have had little effect on quelling unrest on Friday.[23] Despite the announcement of the charges against the officers involved in Floyd's death and the new curfew, riots broke out again on Friday night and continued into early Saturday morning.[100] Demonstrators had tear gas fired on them in rallies at the abandoned third precinct building in Minneapolis. Later in the night, the police presence diminished and several cars were set on fire that neighbors attempted to put out.[58]

Much of the action that night took place near the Minneapolis police fifth precinct station at Lake Street and Nicollet Avenue.[100] Residents of the Midtown Global Market, a mix-use space with commercial areas and apartments, fended off threats to their building by patrolling the area with baseball bats.[58] Law enforcement presence was reportedly "undetectable" as violence in Minneapolis quickly grew until just before midnight, when police officers, state troopers, and members of the National Guard began confronting rioters with tear gas and mass force.[100] Seventy-fire fires were reported across Minneapolis that night.[23]

Officials later said that the 350 police officers at the site of rioting near the Minneapolis fifth precinct station were vastly outnumbered by the crowds.[101] Walz explained that the scope of the chaos, the time it takes to mobilize guard troops, and the mobile nature of the crowds made it difficult to direct response forces. Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said that protests were active at several sites through the city and that there were not enough officers to safely and successfully undertake multiple missions.[102]

As the events unfolded that night, the Pentagon placed members of the Military Police Corps from Fort Bragg and Fort Drum on stand-by, preparing for possible deployment to the Twin Cities if requested by Walz.[103] Walz later declined the offer and activated all of the state's National Guard, up to 13,200 troops.[104]

Saturday, May 30, 2020[edit]

Overnight destruction and officials react[edit]

Firefighters at East Lake Street and Columbus Avenue in Minneapolis, May 30, 2020

Overnight from May 29 to May 30, smoke and the sound of helicopters filled the sky in Minneapolis through the night as multiple fires burned near the fifth police precinct station in Minneapolis. A United States Post Office on Nicollet Avenue, a Wells Fargo Bank branch, and several gas stations, among other businesses, blazed overnight. Several businesses also burned on West Broadway Avenue in north Minneapolis, including a barbershop that was destroyed by fire. Officials were unable to immediately attend to major fires, citing security concerns at the sites, but later reached them when they could be accompanied by National Guard and police patrols.[105]

For the second time in as many nights, officials held a press conference at 1:30 a.m. CDT, but this time in Saint Paul and led by the governor and state officials. Some officials speculated that much of the destruction was being caused by people from outside the state, a claim that was later contradicted by arrest records of protesters and that officials rescinded.[106] It was reported that mayor Frey and governor Walz appeared visibly exhausted as they made emotional pleas to the public about Floyd's death and the escalation of violence. "The absolute chaos — this is not grieving, and this is not making a statement [about an injustice] that we fully acknowledge needs to be fixed — this is dangerous," Walz said. "You need to go home."

Walz also took responsibility for underestimating the size of the crowds causing destruction earlier in the night.[105]

Mix of peaceful and confrontational protests[edit]

A protest at a police station in Minneapolis, May 30, 2020.

Officials mobilized National Guard troops throughout Saturday, expecting even larger crowds.[102] Groups of people continued to gather at the makeshift memorial at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent death.[107] More than 1,000 protesters gathered outside the home of Michael Freeman, the attorney for Hennepin County and initial prosecutor of the four Minneapolis police officers involved in the murder of George Floyd, and caused minor damage to the house.[108]

By nightfall, demonstrations in Minneapolis were a mix of peaceful gatherings and others that involved property destruction.[109] Minneapolis police reported that a group of protesters near Hiawatha Avenue and Lake Street were attacking police by throwing nondescript objects, and deployed more units to the area.[110] That night after curfew, police fired tear gas at a group of protesters who were attempting to march from Minneapolis to Saint Paul via the Lake Street Bridge.[107] Police also fired rubber bullets, paint canisters, and tear gas at sitting protestors and journalists outside the Minneapolis fifth precinct police station, resulting in serious injuries.[111] At about 11:00 p.m., Minneapolis police officers that patrolled East Lake Street near 15th Avenue South were hit with rocks, debris, and bottles of bodily fluids thrown by demonstrators.[112]

By Saturday night, the Minnesota National Guard had reached full mobilization.[113] No buildings were set on fire in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, unlike the previous three nights.[113] After May 30, violent riots subsided and protests returned to being largely peaceful events.[23]

Sunday, May 31, 2020[edit]

Shots fired at officers[edit]

At approximately 4:00 a.m. a 38-year old man from Saint Paul fired several gunshots at Minneapolis police officer on East Lake Street who were patrolling the area and encountered a group of people in a parking lot.[109] The police chased the man down and subdued him after a struggle. They recovered the firearm allegedly used by the man, and he later faced criminal charges in connection to the incident.[112]

Troop deployment and peaceful rallies[edit]

Protesters at the state capitol in Saint Paul, May 31, 2020

By late Saturday morning, Minnesota National Guard troops were conducting missions with more on the way. Protests and rallies were held at various locations throughout the Minneapolis–Saint Paul region.[113] Crowds of people once again gathered at the site of Floyd's arrest and subsequent death.[114] Speakers at a “Justice for George Floyd” rally at the state capitol building in Saint Paul spoke about police brutality and called for the arrest of the other three officers at the scene of Floyd's death. A peaceful crowd marched westbound on I-94 before heading down University Avenue in Saint Paul.[115]

Later in the day, Walz and Freeman agreed that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would assist in the investigation of Floyd's death.[116]

Tanker truck incident on I-35W[edit]

Shortly after 6:00 p.m. CDT, an estimated crowd of 5,000 to 6,000 people gathered on the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis and, believing police forces had fully closed the interstate highway after they marched on to it, began taking a knee.[117] An unaware semi-truck tanker drove northbound through an unbarricaded section of the highway and into the protesters, causing the crowd to part ways to avoid being run down. After the driver—a 35-year-old man from Otsego, Minnesota returning from a fuel delivery—came to a halt, he was pulled from his cab and beaten by the surrounding crowd. He suffered minor injuries, as some of the protesters attempted to protect him.[118][119]

A live social media video captured a person pointing a gun at the truck driver and shooting two rounds into the truck's front tire.[120] Bystanders brought the truck driver to the police, who then pepper-sprayed the crowd. The driver was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center then released into the custody of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, which initially charged him with assault.[118][119] No serious injuries to the people on the bridge were reported, though one protester suffered abrasions during the incident.[118] Led by the Minnesota State Patrol and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, officials cited 318 people for unlawful assembly in connection to the incident.[121]

The driver was charged in October 2020 for criminal vehicular operation, but in June 2021 the charges were dropped and he agreed to a year-long probationary period and payment of restitution.[122]

June 1-7, 2020[edit]

Memorials and gatherings[edit]

Terrence Floyd visits a memorial outside Cup Foods, June 1, 2020

On June 1, 2020, Governor Walz began the process of demobilizing the state's National Guard, a process that would take several days.[123] Two autopsy reports were publicized—one by the Hennepin County medical examiner and one by doctors hired by Floyd's family—that ruled Floyd's death a homicide.[124]

Thousands gathered peacefully at the Minnesota State Capitol building in Saint Paul and marched to the Governor's Residence, calling for police reforms and the prosecution of all four officers who were involved in Floyd's death. Nearly 30 Saint Paul police officers on the outskirts of the rally took a knee, which drew criticism from rally organizers who felt the gesture was a hollow public relations stunt and asked them to leave. Activist Nekima Levy Armstrong, citing distrust of Attorney General Keith Ellison, demanded that Floyd's case be handled outside the state. Governor Tim Walz attended part of the rally but did not speak publicly.[125]

Floyd's family addressed a crowd at the 38th and Chicago intersection and encouraged people to continue protesting, but to do so peacefully. Terrance Floyd, George's brother, said that instead of destroying property, demonstrators should, ""Educate yourself, and know who you're voting for. That's how we're going to hit them...Let's switch it up."[126]

On June 2, 2020, thousands of people gathered for several peaceful protests across the Twin Cities. Reflecting on social justice action during the United States civil rights era, faith leaders held corresponding marches in south Minneapolis and Saint Paul. A dozen area high school students organized a sit in at the state capitol building in Saint Paul that drew an estimated crowd of 3,000 people.[127] A National Guard troop member was given the opportunity to briefly address the crowd to explain their mission to restore order and protect peaceful assembly.[128][129] Somber protests continued at the Minneapolis intersection were Floyd was killed and a group remained after the curfew time came and went.[130]

On June 3, 2020, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who four days earlier took over the case against the officers involved in Floyd's death, upgraded the murder charges against former officer Chauvin and charged former officers Kueng, Lane, and Thao with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Floyd's family called the charges “a significant step forward on the road to justice". Walz, who visited the Floyd memorial at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis where crowds continued to gather, said he recognized "that the anguish driving protests around the world is about more than one tragic incident".[131][132]

Protest rally at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, June 4, 2020

On June 4, 2020, some protests continued Thursday as the family of George Floyd held a memorial service for him at North Central University in Minneapolis, about three miles (4.8 km) from where he was killed on May 25. Many state and local officials attended, including governor Walz, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar, Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. The service also drew national officials and civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King III, Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, as well as several celebrity figures. A reverent crowd gathered at nearby Elliot Park to listen to a broadcast of the memorial on loudspeakers where free food, groceries, and dry goods were provided.[133][134]

On June 5, 2020, thousands gathered for a rally at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis to honor the life of Floyd and call for police reform measures. Former NBA basketball player Royce White, a featured speaker at the event that brought civil rights organizations and professional athletes together, called for the resignation of police union president Bob Kroll. The protest group marched through the city in the early evening.[135]

As nights grew calmer, curfews that had been in place since the previous Friday ended in the Twin Cities on June 5, 2020.[136][113]

Police abolition movement[edit]

A march of thousands of protesters in Minneapolis on June 6, 2020, to call for "defunding the police" culminated in a rally at the home Mayor Jacob Frey. The crowd confronted Frey and asked if he supported abolishing the city's police. When he said he did not, the crowd booed him away.[137]

A "defund police" event at Powderhorn Park, June 7, 2020

On June 7, at a Powderhorn Park rally organized by Black Visions Collective and several other black-led social justice organizations, nine of the 13 members of the Minneapolis City Council vowed before a large crowd to dismantle the city's police department.[138] The pledge garnered significant attention and considerable political backlash.[139][140][141]

The process to amend the city's charter to replace the police department with a Department of Public Safety continued in 2020 and 2021.[142]

End of government mobilization[edit]

A multi-agency government command that responded to the riots and unrest demobilized on June 7, 2020. The government response was led by Minnesota Department of Public Safety and had participation of federal agencies, Minnesota National Guard, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, and Minnesota State Patrol. The command had provided security for some events, such as the June 4 memorial in Elliot Park, but noted that events leading up to and on June 7 were not violent.[143] The state had pressed 7,123 members of the Minnesota National Guard into duty under the commanded of Major General Jon A. Jensen in the largest deployment in the state's history since World War II.[28]


A destroyed police station in Minneapolis, May 30, 2020.

Many business owners boarded up with plywood panels to cover windows and doors at their properties to prevent looting, particularly in the areas most impacted by civil unrest.[144] Many residents, small business owners, and organization leaders stood guard at their buildings overnight during the heaviest rioting. Some intervened to dissuade rioters from destroying property.[145][146] Hundreds of residents, some with snow shovels and brooms, went to areas affected by overnight rioting to clean up trash, graffiti, broken glass, and the remnants of damaged buildings.[34][147] In areas of heavy rioting, were many stores closed after being looted or burned, residents organized food drives.[148] Vibrant works of arts appeared all over the Twin Cities on boarded-up buildings and other surfaces that honored George Floyd's memory, contained racial justice themes, and showed community solidarity.[149]

Nearly 1,500 property locations in the Twin Cities had been damaged by vandalism, fire, and/or looting, with some buildings reduced to rubble and dozens of others completely destroyed by fire. The heaviest damage occurred in Minneapolis along a 5-mile (8.0 km) stretch on Lake Street between the city's third and fifth police precincts and in Saint Paul along a 3.5-mile (5.6 km) stretch of University Avenue in the Midway area.[9] Reports of property destruction reached from Apple Valley to Maple Grove in the metropolitan region. Most of the arrests of demonstrators that later resulted in criminal charges were for acts of property destruction and rioting that occurred by June 1, 2020. [121] Estimates of property damage in the region were upwards of $550 million,[8] making the unrest in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area the second most destructive in United States history, after the 1992 Los Angeles riots.[30] Local officials estimated that rebuilding damaged business corridors in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul region would take 10 years.[25]

Officials had trouble identifying the people responsible for causing destruction as the peaceful protests transitioned to riots. Law enforcement recovered incendiaries, weapons, and stolen vehicles left in the areas of heated protests.[150] The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tracked 160 separate fires in the days after Floyd's murder—the total did not include adjacent structures were damaged by large fires.[121] The multi-agency law enforcement command center for the Twin Cities announced that 604 protesters had been arrested as of June 2, 2020.[6] Several hundred of those arrested were described as participating in peaceful protests, but were taken into custody at night for violating curfew.[151] People charged with violating curfew faced potential fines of up to $1,000 or 90 days in jail.[152] Charges against many who protested peacefully were later dropped.[153]

Analysis of state and federal criminal charges found that disorganized crowds had no single goal or affiliation, many opportunist crowds amassed spontaneously during periods of lawlessness, and that people causing destruction had contradictory motives for their actions.[13] By a year later, federal officials had charged 17 people with for rioting or arson-related crimes and local officials had charged 81 with felonies connected to the unrest.[121] More than half of those charged were described as white Americans who travelled from suburban or rural communities to participate in the unrest, with some motivated to address racial injustice.[154] Commenting on the racial dynamics of those causing destruction and who it affected, the Pioneer Press newspaper said in October 2020, "In St. Paul, the irony of self-proclaimed advocates — many of them white — arriving from outside the city to burn down large strips of ethnic neighborhoods in the name of racial justice hasn’t been lost on residents of the Midway."[154]

At least two deaths occurred as a result of the civil unrest in Minneapolis in 2020.[29] Calvin Horton Jr., a 43-year-old man from Minneapolis, was fatally shot on May 27 by the owner of the Cadillac Pawn & Jewelry shop who believed he was burglarizing his business.[4][72] Oscar Lee Stewart Jr., a 30-year-old man from Burnsville, Minnesota, died from smoke inhalation and burn injuries from an intentional building fire at the Max It Pawn store in Minneapolis on May 28.[5][86]

Protests persist and broaden[edit]

George Floyd Square[edit]

Fist sculpture at George Floyd Square, June 19, 2020

George Floyd protests first emerged on May 26, 2020, at the East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue intersection where he was killed the day prior.[60] Residents and activists transformed the street intersection into a memorial site with public art of Floyd and of other racial justice themes. Some activists also held several blocks around the intersection in an occupation protest. The memorial site and occupation of the area, referred as George Floyd Square, persisted in 2021.[155][156] The street intersection area had been a "continuous site of protest"[157] since the day Floyd died, and at nearly a year after his death, thousands of people from multiple countries had visited the active,[158] ongoing[159] protest and memorial site there.[159][157]

Racial injustice[edit]

Protestors continued to seek justice for Floyd and made broader calls to address structural racism in Minnesota, with many protest events part of the larger Black Lives Matter movement.[23] National Public Radio described the protest period in the months after Floyd's death as the "summer of racial reckoning".[160] A columnist for the The European Conservative referred to it as "the long hot summer of 2020", a nod to the long, hot summer of 1967.[161][162][163]

As the global protest movement over Floyd's death turned towards removing monuments and memorials with controversial legacies,[164] a statue of Christopher Columbus at the Minnesota State Capitol building was torn down by American Indian demonstrators on June 10, 2020,[165] and the Minnesota Twins removed a statue of former club owner Calvin Griffith on June 19, 2020.[166] The Minneapolis false rumors riot from August 26–27, 2020, occurred after misinformation spread on social media that a homicide suspect was shot by police, when video released by the police showed the man shooting himself in the head as officers approached to arrest him.[167]

Protests were held following the killing of Dolal Idd by Minneapolis police officers during a sting operation on December 30, 2020, which was the first police killing in the city since that of Floyd.[168] Several days of unrest occurred in the Twin Cities region after the killing of Daunte Wright by a Brooklyn Center police officer on April 11, 2021, who allegedly mistook her handgun for a taser during a traffic stop and arrest. Daunte Wright protests intersected with the mobilization of law enforcement for the conclusion of the Derek Chauvin criminal trial.[169][170] Demonstrators after Floyd's death also renewed protests in 2020 and 2021 over prior killings of Black men by police in the Twin Cities area, such as the shooting deaths of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Philando Castile in 2016, among others.[3][171]

Officer trial protests[edit]

Chauvin trial[edit]

Pre-trial proceedings and jury selection[edit]

Protest march in Minneapolis, March 7, 2021.

Several protests and rallies were held in conjunction with the legal proceedings and criminal trials of the four Minneapolis police officers at the scene of Floyd's death—officers Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao.[172]

Hundreds rallied outside the Hennepin County Government Center, a downtown Minneapolis local government and court building, on September 11, 2020, during a pretrial hearing for former officers Chauvin, Lane, and Keung, and Thao.[173] Confrontations between some in the crowd and the officers' attorney were described as "angry". On November 5, 2020, defense attorneys cited the exchange on September 11 and safety concerns in their arguments in court to have a change of venue to another jurisdiction for the trial, but Peter Cahill, the presiding judge, rejected the their motion.[174]

On October 7, 2021, protesters took to the streets and held rallies at several places in Minneapolis to express anger over the release of former Chauvin on bail. Chauvin was initially arrested on May 29, 2020, and held at Oak Park Heights prison,[175] but he later posted bond for the $1 million bail for his release pending trial. Governor Walz sent 100 National Guards troops, as well as 100 state police troops and 75 conservation officers, to keep the peace in Minneapolis.[176] Law enforcement made 51 arrests late at night on October 7, of which 49 were for misdemeanor offences such as unlawful assembly, one arrest for assault, and one arrest for having an outstanding felony warrant.[7]

Peter Cahill, the judge overseeing the Chauvin trial, dismissed the most serious charge for third-degree murder on October 22, 2020, as a protest group of about 100 people demonstrated.[124] Walz proactively mobilized 100 National Guard troops and an unspecific number of Minnesota State Patrol officers to support local law enforcement.[177]

State and local officials prepared for the possibility of continued unrest in 2021 with the trials of the four Minneapolis police officers deemed responsible for Floyd's death scheduled for begin that year.[172] Officials surrounded the Hennepin County Government Center, a public building that included the court rooms were the Chauvin trial would take place, with a temporary concrete barrier, metal fencing, and barbed wire in anticipation of civil unrest.[178]

On March 7, 2021, several hundred protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis and rallied outside the Hennepin County Government Center building to mourn the death of George Floyd and call for reform of policing. The event, dubbed the "'I Can't Breathe' Silent March For Justice" by its organizers, came one day ahead of jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin slated for March 8. Protesters carried a white-colored replica coffin adorned with red flowers. Another group of faith leaders, held a "Pray for MN" gathering at the government center building later that afternoon.[179]

Jury trial and verdict announcement[edit]

Security fencing and a Minnesota National Guard vehicle, March 8, 2021

Approximately a thousand protesters gathered peacefully outside a downtown courthouse as Chauvin's trial commenced on March 8 to call for justice for Floyd and raise broader issues of racial injustice. Officials had surrounded the facility with a temporary concrete barrier, metal fencing, and barbed wire in anticipation of potential unrest. Protests and rallies planned for the George Floyd Square were halted for several days after a fatal shooting there on March 6, 2021.[180]

On March 28, 2021, the day before opening statements in the trial of Derek Chauvin, several rallies and protests were held in Minneapolis. The family of George Floyd and Al Sharpton hosted a vigil at the Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis. Separately, protesters marched in downtown Minneapolis to demand justice for Floyd and rallied at the Hennepin County Government Center and City Hall, and some demonstrators parked cars on the Metro light-rail tracks, which closed train traffic for several hours. At 38th and Chicago Avenue, the street intersection where Floyd was killed, a group of people who self-identified as "anarchists" and "anti-fascists" held a training workshop at the square on how to avoid arrest and keep calm if detained by police. Protesters claimed that the street intersection was not public property and demanded that journalists leave the area before the training workshop began.[181]

The George Floyd Square remained an important gathering place during the trial of Derek Chauvin for people protesting racial injustice and seeking justice for Floyd. The square hosted daily visitors from around the United States who made pilgrimages to the intersection.[182] Groups of protesters also gathered outside Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis during the trial of Derek Chauvin and marched on the streets calling for justice.[183] The streets in Minneapolis, however, were largely empty of the mass marches that were a feature of protests in May and June 2020.[144]

A "Justice for George Floyd" march in Minneapolis, April 19, 2021

On April 6, several civil rights leaders, including Al Sharpton and former New York Governor David Paterson, led a rally outside the government building and prayed for the conviction of Derek Chauvin.[184] The Chauvin murder trial concluded on April 19, 2021, and the jury began deliberations.[185]

The trial of Derek Chauvin concluded in Minneapolis just after 5 p.m. on April 19, 2021, and the jury began deliberations the same evening. The trial had been one of the most closely watched cases of police brutality in the United States. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency and deployed 3,000 Minnesota National Guard troops and state patrol officers to assist local law enforcement. He also sought deployment of law enforcement officers from nearby states. Some schools in the metropolitan area announced plans to proactively move to distance learning and business had been boarding up out of worries of potential unrest. The killing of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center on April 11, 2021, and the subsequent protests, intersected with the looming verdict. Days earlier, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters' told demonstrators in Minnesota that they should "stay on the street" and "get more confrontational" if Chauvin's trial resulted in acquittal.[186] Twenty activist groups coordinated a large demonstration and march through the streets in Minneapolis near the Hennepin County Government Center building where the trial of Derek Chauvin was held. Protesters made several demands: lengthy sentences for the officers they deemed responsible for George Floyd's death, police reform legislation in Minnesota, to have charged dropped against demonstrators in Brooklyn Center and at other recent events, and for officials to end Operation Safety Net and other counter-protest measures. Protesters and law enforcement authorities did not engage with one another and the event was peaceful.[187][188]

A sign at the George Floyd Square occupied protest, May 18, 2021

Derek Chauvin was found guilty of murdering George Floyd on April 20, 2021. People gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center where the trial was held and at the 38th and Chicago Avenue street intersection in Minneapolis where Floyd died, to await the verdict at approximately 4 p.m. Crowds chanted in approval as the verdict was read that found Chauvin guilty on all charges.[189] As news of the Chauvin verdict spread, thousands of people marched in downtown Minneapolis and others gathered at 38th and Chicago Avenue in elation over the outcome. Activists chanted, “One down! Three to go!”, in reference to the looming trials of officers of the other three officers who participated in Floyd's arrest and subsequent death.[190] Protesters also called for reforms to policing and justice for other black men killed by police.[191][192][193]

Protest events occurred without incident and officials described them as "peaceful". Officials with the Operation Safety Net also reported three business burglaries in Minneapolis and that a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources vehicle deployed for potential unrest was broken into and had a firearm stolen from it. Officials did not make any arrests connected to April 19 events.[194]

Government mobilization[edit]

State officials led a 12-week mission referred to as “Operation Safety Net” to amass law enforcement agencies and the state National Guard for the conclusion of the jury trial of Derek Chauvin. Officials did not prepare in advance for the contingency of unrest following another police shooting, such as the killing of Daunte Wright on April 11, which resulted in clashes between patrols mobilized by Operation Safety Net and demonstrators in Brooklyn Center and Minneapolis.[195] The operation cost state officials $25 million, most of which was for mobilization of 3,500 guard troops, but included costs to mobilize other law enforcement agencies.[196] Roughly 120 law enforcement officers from the U.S. states of Nebraska and Ohio were also mobilized to the Twin Cities area.[197] Officials, though they encounter unrest in Brooklyn Center after Wright's shooting, encountered few issues during and after the Chauvin verdict announcement.[196] Some residents felt the mobilization subjected residents to further trauma.[195] Minneapolis officials also spent approximately $1 millions in contracts with seven community organizers to act as “positive outreach and support” during the protests and help deescalate potential tension between demonstrators and law enforcement.[198]

Trials of Kueng, Lane, and Thao[edit]

Some activists in Minneapolis who were compelled to action by Floyd's death stated that Chauvin's guilty verdict would not be the end their protest movement. Alexander, Lane, and Thao—the other three officers at the scene of Floyd's death—awaited a trial scheduled for March 2022 for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. Activists believed that justice over Floyd's death included holding all four officers legally accountable, as well as having policy makers address what they perceived as systemic racism in policing.[199][124] Several activists pledged to continue protesting until the conclusion of the criminal trials and the civil case against all four officers.[190][200]

One-year anniversary[edit]

Several events were held in conjunction with the one-year anniversary of Floyd's death. The George Floyd Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization founded by Floyd's family, planned marches and rallies in Minneapolis, New York, and Houston for May 23, 2021, and called for two days of virtual activism everywhere in the United States in support of federal police reform legislation.[201][202][203]

On May 23, 2021, the Floyd family and civil rights activists led a rally in downtown Minneapolis outside the Hennepin County Government Center building, which was still fortified by fencing installed for the Chauvin trial that concluded a month earlier. Bridgett Floyd, who was George's sister, Al Sharpton, Floyd family Attorney Benjamin Crump were among those who spoke to the crowd of several hundred people. Activists who spoke hoped that Floyd's death, which had been a catalyst for changing policing policies in the United States, would result in passage of police reform legislation and examination of other officer-involved killings. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, and Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter attended the events. A crowd marched through downtown Minneapolis after the rally.[204]

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a statewide moment of silence for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the length of time Chauvin knelt on Floyd, for 1:00 p.m., on May 25, 2021. Said Walz, “George Floyd’s murder ignited a global movement and awakened many Minnesotans and people around the world to the systemic racism that our Black communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color have known for centuries”.[205]


Major areas of civic unrest in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, May 27–29, 2020:


See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

Arrangement is chronological.

External links[edit]