Death of George Floyd

In the spring of 2020, the streets of the United States exploded. George Floyd was a Black man who was killed by police in Minneapolis. Police officers kneeled on his neck and back for eight minutes and 46 seconds, while George repeatedly called out that he couldn’t breathe. The officers remained on top of Mr. Floyd until he suffered a heart attack from obstructed breathing. He died minutes later.

At first, prosecutors were not going to charge the officer. But after a massive protests in Minneapolis and calls from people all around the United States, the district attorney charged one of the officers with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

Weeks later, protests continued in more than 140 cities across the United States. The majority of people have been peacefully marching in the streets, gathering outside police stations, singing and chanting. They want the police to stop killing black and brown people. They don’t want to be harassed and treated violently by the police. Rather, they want equality.


Protestors marching in St. Paul
Protesters gather in Times Square in New York City

Sometimes a few and sometimes many people have become violent towards the police, throwing rocks and bricks, setting fires to police cars and police stations. In a number of cities, people have smashed store windows and looted stores. Some of these people have destroyed things because they are angry about mistreatment. Others are taking advantage of the confusion in the streets to greedily steal things from stores.

Many officers have condemned the way that George Floyd was treated. Some police officers and chiefs have kneeled down in solidarity with the protestors. They have listened to people express their frustration and have expressed their own frustrations with the injustice and the need for accountability. Many police officers have done their jobs with honor. They have risked their lives to keep their cities safe and want every other officer to do the same.

Other officers have incited callousness and violence towards the people they are supposed to protect. They have reacted with violence towards peaceful crowds. Some have used excessive force with protesters, and have let their emotions out through criminal acts of violence.

Long History

George Floyd’s death is not a new phenomenon. The United States has a long legacy of White supremacy and violence, most notably against Blacks and Native Americans. Other prominent names of people of color who were unjustly killed recently are Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Amadou Diallo, Alton Sterling, Renisha McBride, Sean Bell, and the nine members of the Emmanual AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Comprehension Questions

What did protesters want?


What is White supremacy?


What effect does it have?