George Floyd was born in North Carolina and moved to Houston as a baby. He grew into a talented athlete who played football and basketball, receiving a basketball scholarship to Florida State University.
According to the mother of his six-year-old daughter, he didn’t finish school, eventually returning to Houston, where he became involved in music. He left the city for Minneapolis around 2018.
“Being black in America should not be a death sentence”
On Monday, police officers responded to a “forgery in progress.” A police statement says they were “advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence. Two officers arrived and located the suspect, an African American male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step out of his car.
“After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance.”
However, the police statement left out a scene recorded by a bystander that has shocked the nation: a Minneapolis police officer keeps his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, during which the unarmed man repeatedly cried out, “I can’t breathe!”
“Please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man, please,” Mr. Floyd said to the officer. “I can’t move. Everything hurts. Give me some water or something, please. I can’t breathe, officer.” As the officer continued to crush his neck with his knee, Mr. Floyd added, “They’re going to kill me. They’re going to kill me, man.”
An ambulance then took Mr. Floyd to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
By Tuesday afternoon, the four officers involved had been fired. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called Mr. Floyd’s death “simply awful” and “wrong at every level.” He stated: “This man’s life matters, he matters. He was someone’s son, someone’s family member, someone’s friend. He was a human being and his life mattered.”
The mayor added: “Being black in America should not be a death sentence.”
“A punch in the gut for a lot of people”
Christian Cooper is a Harvard graduate who serves on the board of the New York City Audubon Society and has long been a prominent bird watcher in New York City.
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