Minneapolis, Minnesota —
Note: This article describes some violence, and a pattern of unfairness from police. It may raise questions that don’t have easy answers. If it brings up questions or worries for you, be sure to discuss them with an adult you trust.
US cities are being shaken by protests over police treatment of black people. The protests, at times violent, came after a black man was killed by rough treatment by the police, something that seems to be a long-term pattern in the US.
People are gathering in cities across the United States (US) to protest unfair police treatment of people who aren’t white. People are also protesting police brutality – when police use more force, roughness, or violence than is needed to do their jobs.
The original reason for the recent protests was the death of a black man named George Floyd in Minneapolis last Monday.
Mr. Floyd was arrested because police thought he tried to use a fake $20 bill. He died lying on the ground in handcuffs after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Three other police officers nearby took no action to help Mr. Floyd.
Though all four of the police involved in the event were fired on Tuesday, it wasn’t until Friday that Mr. Chauvin was arrested for killing Mr. Floyd.
America has a long history of treating non-white people unfairly, going back to times when slavery was legal. Though US laws now offer everyone equal rights, in real life, people often have different experiences based on the color of their skin.
Police are far more likely to stop, question, or arrest people of color, especially black men. In recent years, there have been many other police killings or beatings of black people for little or no reason. Many of these events have led to protests and promises of change. But still, these events keep happening.
The protests began in Minneapolis on Tuesday after videos of Mr. Floyd’s death spread on the internet. Soon large protests followed in dozens of other cities.
Though most protests started peacefully, some protests turned violent. In some places, protesters have turned over police cars, vandalized and looted buildings, and set cars and buildings on fire.
In response, hundreds of people have been arrested. In many places, police have been using tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets to try to keep the protests under control. Many protesters and police officers have been injured.
Several cities have called the National Guard in to help control the crowds. Some cities have also started curfews, but many protesters are ignoring the curfews.
Even while working to control the protests, police officers have often used more force than was needed. Some protesters have caught these actions on video. Even news reporters have been attacked by the police, sprayed with tear gas, and arrested.
US President Donald Trump has raised tensions, calling the protesters “thugs” and threatening to start shooting them.
Ex-Vice President Joe Biden visited a protest site in Delaware. Later, he wrote online, “We are a nation in pain, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us.” Ex-President Barack Obama, who is black, said, “This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America.”
For now, many city leaders across the country are struggling to bring their cities under control.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, there is an extra worry that the protests could lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Did You Know…?
The problems of police treating non-white people unfairly don’t just happen in the US. In response to the George Floyd killing and the US protests, large crowds of protesters have gathered in many other countries, including Canada, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom.