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‘What they did was murder,’ George Floyd’s family says of police as protests erupt in Minneapolis

Protesters and police faced each other during a rally for George Floyd in Minneapolis on Tuesday.Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Associated Press

Protesters marched in Minneapolis Tuesday night in response to the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, as Floyd’s family called for the officers involved to face murder charges.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported Minneapolis police in riot gear engaged in a standoff with protesters, firing chemical agents and sandbags at them after demonstrators threw water bottles.

Police officers deployed to disperse protesters in the Target parking lot near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct, following a rally for George Floyd on Tuesday.Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP

The Tribune also reported the march began peacefully at the site where Floyd had been detained by police and later escalated as thousands of demonstrators reached a police precinct.


Tear gas was fired as protesters clashed with police while demonstrating against the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Precinct Police Precinct.Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

A video taken by a Tribune reporter showed crowds running as police fired tear gas and people dousing their faces with milk to soothe their reactions to the gas.

A widely circulated video taken by a bystander shows a Minneapolis officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck as Floyd says “I can’t breathe," prompting investigations by the FBI, state authorities, and the firing of the four officers involved in the arrest.

The death drew comparisons to the 2014 death of Eric Garner, a Black man who died in New York after he was put in a chokehold by police and repeatedly said he could not breathe.

Members of Floyd’s family appeared on CNN Tuesday night and called for the four officers to face murder charges.

Protesters gathered near the Minnesota Police 3rd Precinct.Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via AP

Tera Brown, Floyd’s cousin, told Don Lemon that the firing of the officers “was a good start,” but that it is not enough.

“What they did was murder, and almost the whole world has witnessed that because someone was gracious enough to record it,” Brown said, commenting on the bystander’s video in which Floyd could be heard calling for his mother before losing consciousness.

“I just don’t understand,” Floyd’s brother, Philonise, added. “What more do we have to go through in life? He was a gentle giant.”


“He didn’t deserve what happened to him,” Brown said.

Police said Floyd matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store, and that he resisted arrest. The unidentified officer ignored his pleas.

“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,” Floyd is heard telling the officer.

“They need to pay for what they did,” Brown said. “[The officers] were supposed to be there to serve and protect. But I didn’t see one of them do a single thing to help when [Floyd] was begging for his life. I didn’t see that. What I did see was murder.”

Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s attorney, added that police did not have to use lethal, excessive force for a nonviolent forgery charge.

“We’re seeing, ‘I can’t breathe’ again in 2020,” Crump said, drawing comparisons in Floyd’s death to Garner’s. “How is this not murder?”

“What we need it justice for my brother,” Rodney said. “This hurts me deep.”

Photos show chaotic scenes from the protest Tuesday night.

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images
KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press
Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP
Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP
A police officer threw a tear gas canister towards protesters.Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press
Protesters ran from percussion grenades and tear gas.Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press
A protester wiped his face after being doused with milk after exposure to percussion grenades and tear gas.Carlos Gonzalez/Associated Press
KEREM YUCEL/AFP via Getty Images
Evan Frost | MPR News/Associated Press

Amanda Kaufman can be reached at Follow her @amandakauf1. Brittany Bowker can be reached at Follow her @brittbowker and also on Instagram @brittbowker.