Crime & Justice

George Floyd death protests spread to streets of New York City

New York City, US, May 28 (efe-epa).- Around 100 people demonstrated in New York City on Thursday over the death of George Floyd in police custody, during which bottles were thrown, protesters clashed with police and dozens were reportedly arrested.

Protesters, wearing masks and gloves against COVID-19, gathered in Manhattan’s iconic Union Square carrying placards under the close surveillance of dozens of police.

The demonstration traveled through several streets of the city, demanding justice for Floyd and with cries of “I can’t breathe,” his words before he died. At least 40 people were arrested, according to local media, citing the New York Police Department.

The 46-year-old African-American man died Monday after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the back of his neck while he was handcuffed and other officers stood by.

The incident has drawn comparisons to the 2014 death of New York African-American Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by police, despite his cries of “I can’t breathe.”

Floyd’s death has triggered days of massive protests in the US, and in some cases riots, the burning of buildings and the looting of shops, which has reached New York and played out Thursday during the tense protest against police brutality, as has happened in other notable cases.

After chaos and destruction in Minneapolis rallies, areas of the city woke up Thursday to smoke and buildings still on fire.

The incident concerning Floyd occurred on Monday night when after receiving a complaint, reportedly that a man might be trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store, police officers arrived on the scene and found Floyd sitting in his vehicle.

When they ordered him to get out, they said he resisted arrest, adding in their official report filed after the incident that after they had handcuffed him and made him lie facedown on the pavement they noticed that he was in “medical distress.”

In a video taken by a passerby of Floyd’s arrest and the events leading to his death, the man is seen lying facedown on the pavement beside a patrol car with one of the officers kneeling on the back of his neck for more than five minutes without changing position, despite the fact that Floyd can be heard saying that he cannot breathe and begging for the officers not to hurt him, until he ultimately loses consciousness.

“Please, please, please I can’t breathe,” and “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe,” Floyd is heard saying. But the officer never reduced the pressure of his knee and body weight on the man’s neck until an ambulance arrived minutes later and Floyd was loaded onto a stretcher showing no signs of life. He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the case, which has sparked strong reaction across the country, including from New York Police Chief Dermont Shea as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said he was “horrified” after watching the video of the incident.

Shea on Thursday turned to the department’s Twitter account to say that what happened “was deeply disturbing. It was wrong.”

“We must come together, condemn these actions and reinforce who we are as members of the NYPD,” said Shea, who added it was “not acceptable ANYWHERE.”

Cuomo compared the case with Garner’s.

“We went through it in New York, we had the Garner case in New York, it’s happened all across the country. How many times do you have to learn the same lesson?” he asked.

The Minneapolis Police Department has already announced the firing of the four officers involved, although it has not filed charges against them.

Protests have also been reported in Los Angeles, California and Memphis, Tennessee.EFE-EPA

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