Tanzina: That is sound from protests that ran late into last night in Minneapolis, Minnesota over the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by a white Minneapolis police officer. A graphic video taken by a bystander shows the officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes. Floyd died soon after the encounter.
The outrage has led to an FBI investigation and the firing of all four police officers who were on the scene. We now turn to Jon Collins, senior reporter on Minnesota Public Radio’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Jon, thank you for being here. Welcome to The Takeaway.
Jon: Thanks for having me.
Tanzina: Jon, many of us have seen that disturbing video by now. What are you hearing from all the backlash there?
Jon: Yesterday, there was a response from public officials from the Governor Tim Walz to Attorney General Keith Ellison to the mayor essentially condemning what people see in that video and calling for authorities to look deeper into exactly what happened.
In the public, there were people gathering at the scene throughout the day and then gathering in protest, hundreds and hundreds of protesters, who then marched through the streets and mostly in masks and spaced at some distance sometimes to the 3rd Precinct last night.
Tanzina: What happened with these protesters? I've been seeing some pretty disturbing videos of how they were met by police forces.
Jon: There were some confrontations when they arrived at the precinct. Some windows of police squad vehicles were broken, a window at the precinct was broken and police responded with chemical irritants, firing tear gas over and over into and around the crowds. This is on a relatively busy intersection in South Minneapolis. Protesters were gathered in a downpour last night on four corners of the intersection having a standoff with police for hours last night.
Tanzina: According to mappingpoliceviolence.org, Minneapolis Police kill Black people at a rate of 13 times higher than white people. That's a larger racial disparity than almost anywhere else in the nation. Does that bear out in your reporting, Jon?
Jon: It's important to remember that Minnesota has had just one police officer that's been convicted for killing a civilian on the job and that was officer Mohamed Noor, who shot and killed Justine Ruszczyk in 2017. Noor is Black and Ruszczyk was white. In another high-profile police killing, that was Philando Castile, the motorist, who was pulled over by officer Jeronimo Yanez in 2016 and shot and killed. The officer was acquitted in his death.
Tanzina: Has the Minneapolis Police Department issued any kind of statement?
Jon: The Minneapolis Police chief has fired the four officers involved in this case. They say that they're looking into the actual procedures, the kneeling on the neck and that will be part of their internal investigation. Mayor Jacob Frye said that firing the police officers was the right thing to do.
Tanzina: Were these officers wearing body cameras?
Jon: The police department is saying that the officers were wearing body cameras and that the incident was captured on body cameras. So we have that evidence that will eventually come out. We're probably not going to see the body cam videos until and if a trial happens or a decision is made not to charge the police officers.
Tanzina: You're saying if there is a trial, I understand those four officers have been fired, what could potentially lie ahead for them? I know that there's also an open FBI investigation now.
Jon: The officers have been fired. They do have the right to contest that through their union and that process could take a while. We may not know for quite a while exactly how it's going to play out.
Tanzina: Jon Collins is senior reporter on Minnesota Public Radio’s Race, Class and Communities desk. Thank you for coming on the show Jon.
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