On May 30, Orange County demonstrators gathered peacefully in downtown Fullerton and Orange Plaza to protest the death of George Floyd.
Over 300 people came in support to kneel and hold signs reading “Black Lives Matter,” “Justice for George” and “Silence is Betrayal.” Roughly 150 people marched through Chapman Avenue while chanting “I can’t breathe!” and “Say his name! George Floyd!”
Protests have emerged nationwide to demand justice for Floyd’s death. Curfews were imposed on major cities across the United States, including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, San Jose and Seattle. National Guard troops have been mobilized in the national capital, Washington D.C., and 15 states in response to riots and looting.
George Floyd died on May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee to the right side of Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes until he lay unresponsive. During the arrest, Floyd begged to be released from Chauvin’s hold multiple times, saying “Mama,” “please” and “I can’t breathe” before he fell unconscious. Floyd had been arrested in suspicion of “forgery in progress” for using a counterfeit $20 dollar bill to buy merchandise.
Chauvin was charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter on May 29. The combined maximum sentence for these charges is 35 years in prison.
Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas K. Lane, three other officers present at the scene, were fired from their positions. As of May 31, no charges have been made against them.
Chauvin’s arrest is the fastest a police officer has ever been charged, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. He and Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that they would jointly investigate Floyd’s death on May 31.
“Prosecuting police officers for misconduct, including homicide and murder, is very difficult … Every single link in the prosecutorial chain will come under attack as we present this case to a jury or a fact-finder,” Ellison said.
Despite the preliminary charges, Floyd’s family demand that Chauvin be charged with first degree murder and the other officers be given charges.
The UCI community has spoken out in condemnation of the actions of the Minneapolis police officers.
“The UCI Police Department is outraged and grief-stricken with the events that took place surrounding the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis,” Chief of Police Liz Griffin said in a statement. “There simply exists no righteous explanation for such demonstrated callous indifference and disregard for the life of a person of color. The actions of those officers violate what we stand for, the oath we all swear to uphold and the public trust of the communities we vow to protect and serve regardless of race.”
ASUCI President Randy Yan also made a statement in regards to the tragedy.
“We cannot, and will not, keep quiet anymore. We call upon the UC Irvine campus leadership to immediately condemn these acts of violence towards the Black community and acknowledge the racial injustices that exist. We cannot further perpetuate injustice in the systems that exist,” Yan said in an email to the UCI community.
To support this effort, call Mayor Jacob Frey at (612) 673-2100 and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman at (612) 348-5550. Text ‘Floyd’ to 55156 to sign the petition at https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/justiceforfloyd_george_floyd_minneapolis.
Michelle Cornelius is a 2019-2020 City News Co-Editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chelsea Pan is a 2019-2020 City News Co-Editor. She can be reached at email@example.com.