George Floyd’s brother laments violence, urges peaceful demonstrations
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Terrence Floyd today decried the mayhem that has marred nationwide protests of the death of his brother, George, while in police custody a week ago.
Floyd made the comments after an impromptu memorial vigil at the Minneapolis site where George was killed on May 25. They came on a day of continuing demonstrations, dueling autopsy reports and finally, an official ruling from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office that Floyd’s death was a homicide.
It also was a day when President Donald Trump threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act and deploy the U.S. military unless states squelch the violent protests that have ravaged cities from coast to coast.
Most cities, including Minneapolis; San Francisco, Calif.; Seattle, Ore.; Baltimore, Md.; New York City, Washington, D.C., and dozens of others where protests have escalated into violence the past several days entered another night under curfew this evening. La Crosse demonstrations Saturday and Sunday nights took place peaceably.
Violence is “not going to bring my brother back at all,” Floyd said shortly after he and others offered memorial prayers.
Floyd lamented the altercations that have disrupted several U.S. cities, as well as some in Europe, leaving a landscape pock-marked with burned-out buildings and looted businesses.
“I understand y’all are upset. But I doubt y’all are half as upset as I am,” Floyd said. “So if I’m not over here wilding out, if I’m not over here blowing up stuff, if I’m not over here messing up my community, then what are y’all doing?”
Acknowledging the frustration at several cases of blacks’ dying at the hands of police, Floyd said, “Let’s do this another way. Let’s stop thinking that our voice don’t matter and vote — not just for the president, but vote for the preliminaries, vote for everybody. Educate yourself.”
Floyd’s address came just a few hours before the release of an independent autopsy that the Floyd family had sought because they challenged the official autopsy’s findings.
The new autopsy found that Floyd died of asphyxiation because of neck and back compression when former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes and ignored his cries of distress, the Floyd family’s attorneys said in releasing the results today.
Chauvin, who was fired because of the action, was arrested Friday and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Friday, but the family and demonstrators also are demanding that three other former officers involved should be arrested and charged as well.
The official autopsy, released last week, included the effects of being restrained, but it also cited underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in Floyd’s system.
What’s more, the initial autopsy found nothing “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
However, late this afternoon, the Hennepin County medical examiner ruled that Floyd’s death was a homicide.
Floyd died because of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” according to the examiner’s report.
The finding “is not a legal determination of culpability or intent, and should not be used to usurp the judicial process,” the medical examiner’s report said.
During the memorial, Floyd said, “Let’s switch it up, y’all, let’s switch it up, and do this peacefully, please,” adding that his brother “would not want y’all to be doing this.”
Violence “is not going to bring my brother back at all,” he said. “My family is a peaceful family. My family is God-fearing.”
Although hundreds of marchers in several cities seemed to be taking advantage of the incident to burn, loot and riot, thousands who have turned out for peaceful demonstrations voiced support for the Floyd family and contributed to a memorial.
One of George Floyd’s brothers, Philonise, started a GoFundMe fundraiser titled the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund. Begun with a goal of $1.5 million, the fund passed $8 million from more than 308 donors today.
A younger sister, Bridgett, began a GoFundMe drive with a goal of $5,000 to help her raise traveling expenses and other costs related to his memorial. It had reached more than $236,000 from 9,600 donors by this evening.
During Rose Garden remarks, Trump declared himself “the president of law and order.” He said he is dispatching “thousand and thousands” of military personnel and law enforcement personnel to the nation’s capital to stop rioting, looting, vandalism and destruction of property.
Trump also urged governors to use as many National Guard troops as possible to control violence. If they don’t, he said, he would deploy the U.S. military to the states “and quickly solve the problem for them.”
“These are not acts of peaceful protest,” Trump said of the unrest. “These are acts of domestic terror.”
Immediately after the remarks, Trump and a phalanx of administration members walked across nearby Lafayette Park to visit the historic, boarded-up St. John’s Church, which protesters set on fire Sunday night.
He stood in front of the building, often referred to as the “church of presidents,” and held a Bible aloft but made no further comments.
St. John’s was built in 1815, and every president since James Madison has attended services there at least once.
A variety of news services contributed to this report.
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