Note: This piece was first published on May 29, 2020 and has been updated through June 1.
Before the sun had set on Memorial Day, Minneapolis Police officers responded to a call in South Minneapolis. Soon after, a man identified as George Floyd was dead.
In the hours and days since, the Twin Cities has seen mass protests over the Minneapolis Police Department’s role in Floyd’s death, as well as violence and looting in different neighborhoods in both Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Here’s what we know about what happened Monday night, and what followed.
Shortly after 8 p.m. on Memorial Day, an employee at Cup Foods, a convenience store at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in South Minneapolis, called police alleging a man had tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill.
Two Minneapolis Police officers arrived on the scene and identified a man in a car parked near the store as matching the suspect’s description, according to the Star Tribune.
More police arrive. Surveillance video from a restaurant obtained by the Washington Post shows police pulling George Floyd, handcuffed, out of a car parked across from Cup Foods and walking him over to the side of a building.
Video taken by a bystander, now seen around the world, shows a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as he struggles, telling officers he can’t breathe, and then goes limp. Three other police officers stand by. Bystanders plead for police to let up on Floyd.
Minneapolis Fire personnel arrived to find Floyd had been loaded into an ambulance by HCMC medics, according to a Fire Department report. An off-duty firefighter who witnessed the end of Floyd’s struggle with police had seen him go from struggling to unresponsive. Members of the fire crew got into the ambulance and found Floyd without a pulse. Attempts to revive him failed and he was pronounced dead at HCMC at 9:25 p.m., according to a Hennepin County Medical Examiner report that listed his cause of death as under investigation. Floyd was 46 years old.
Early Tuesday morning, MPD announced in a press release that a man had died after a “medical incident during [a] police interaction.”
The press release alleged Floyd had physically resisted officers – something later called into question based on a nearby restaurant’s surveillance footage. “Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” the press release said, making no mention of the police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
MPD announced the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension would investigate the incident. In a subsequent press release, the department announced the FBI would also investigate.
Later, the Star Tribune’s Libor Jany reported that MPD walked back some of its earlier statements about the incident, saying they were based on preliminary information.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Police Chief Medaria Arradondo held a press conference responding to Floyd’s death early Tuesday morning.
At that gathering, Frey condemned the police officers’ actions. “When you hear someone calling for help you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense,” Frey said.
Initially, the officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave pending investigation, which is standard procedure for the department.
Later Tuesday, the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis said the union would provide full support to the officers involved and urged a measured response.
“Now is not the time [to] rush to judgment and immediately condemn our officers,” the union’s statement said. “An in-depth investigation is underway. Our officers are fully cooperating. We must review all video. We must wait for the medical examiner’s report.”
Around 9 that morning, attorney Benjamin Crump identified the man who died in police custody as George Floyd. Crump was retained to represent Floyd’s family.
Floyd, a resident of St. Louis Park, had worked as a bouncer at Conga Latin Bistro in Northeast Minneapolis before he was laid off due to the shutdown of the club and dining space during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later on Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s office issued a statement promising an expedited review of evidence presented in investigations of Floyd’s death by the BCA and the FBI.
Then, in a move unprecedented in Minneapolis for its swiftness, Frey announced the firing of all four officers who had been on the scene when Floyd died. At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Arrandondo said he made the decision that the officers would be terminated after reviewing evidence.
As more details about Floyd’s death come out, protesters begin to gather at the site where he had been pinned down by the police, many carrying signs that say “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Killing Black People,” and “I Can’t Breathe.”
Thousands gathered, with a peaceful protest marching from Cup Foods to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct Headquarters on Minnehaha Avenue near Lake Street. But as the evening wore on, tension escalated. The MPD’s Third Precinct headquarters was damaged, and at around 8 p.m., police began firing chemical agents and rubber bullets at protesters, some of whom had allegedly thrown water bottles at the police. Later, as rain set in, most protesters dispersed, per MPR’s Jon Collins.
On Wednesday, Minneapolis released the names of the four officers involved in the incident: Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J Alexander Kueng.
Chauvin, the officer identified as having his knee on Floyd’s neck, had been with the police department for 19 years, and had been involved in several officer-involved shootings, the Star Tribune’s Andy Mannix reported. Thao, who went through the police academy in 2009, was laid off and re-joined MPD in 2012, and was sued for use of force in 2017. The case was settled out of court for $25,000.
Kueng was hired in 2017 and Lane in 2019, according to news reports.
Frey held a midday press conference where he urged Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to file charges against the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground, noting that the officer’s action wasn’t a split-second decision but many seconds over which the officer kept restraining Floyd.
Frey said said he had not seen any evidence that the use of force had been justified. “If you had done it, or I had done it, we would be behind bars right now,” he said.
Officials said the tactics used by the officer were not sanctioned by MPD.
In response to Frey’s comments, Freeman’s office issued another statement saying it was working to “expeditiously gather and review all of the evidence in the tragic death of Mr. George Floyd.”
Frey said he defended people’s right to protest, but also said he supported MPD’s response the night prior, arguing it had become a matter of public safety. He said cars and buildings broken into had live guns and ammo in them.
Then, in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz said the video capturing the events leading to Floyd’s death left him “shocked and horrified.” Walz stopped short of calling for charges for Chauvin, saying he didn’t want to bias an investigation or “jeopardize a fair journey towards justice.”
Later on Wednesday, protesters again gathered at Cup Foods to march to the MPD’s Third Precinct headquarters on Minnehaha Avenue. As the night went on, tensions between protestors and police again erupted. Police attacked protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and flash-bangs.
Later, the windows of businesses in the vicinity of Lake and Minnehaha — and some elsewhere — were broken. Some stores were looted, including Target, and several structures, including an AutoZone, Wendy’s and an apartment building, were set ablaze.
One man was killed when the owner of a pawn shop shot him, believing him to be burglarizing his business, the Star Tribune reported, and confrontations between police and protesters continued into the morning.
Following the previous night’s fires and looting, Frey requested that the governor call out the National Guard.
City officials also held a press conference at which Frey acknowledged the black community’s pain and asked the city’s residents to help restore peace. “In the coming days we will have an all out effort to restore peace and security in our city,” he said.
Minneapolis City Council Vice President Andrea Jenkins called for peace and for the declaration of a state of emergency, calling racism a public health issue.
Protesters soon began to gather once again in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, and sporadic looting was reported in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood.
Also Thursday afternoon, Walz signed an executive order calling a state of peacetime emergency in Minneapolis and St. Paul. He also activated the Minnesota National Guard to “assist in public safety efforts for the next several days,” according to a press release.
Officials from the FBI, BCA and Hennepin County Attorney’s office also held a press conference in Minneapolis pledging a robust criminal investigation into Floyd’s death. After a lengthy delay, U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota Erica MacDonald showed up to say she had nothing to announce, though shd did note that U.S. Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump were aware of the case.
At the same time, protesters began to gather in several groups across Minneapolis and St. Paul, including Downtown and South Minneapolis and St. Paul’s Midway. While most protested peacefully, tension escalated again as police responded with less-than-lethal measures such as rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray.
The Minnesota National Guard ultimately deployed 500 soldiers to Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Around 10 p.m., a group of people gained access to the Minneapolis Police’s Third Precinct headquarters and set it ablaze. Frey had previously ordered the building evacuated, and hundreds of other buildings were burned, damaged or looted throughout the Twin Cities over the course of the night.
Then, just before midnight, Trump sent a pair of tweets criticizing Frey and pledging military support to Walz. He also threatened looters with violence.
Twitter put a note on the second message from the president, noting that it violated the platform’s policy against glorifying violence. The company noted that it was leaving the message up due to public interest.
At 1:30 a.m., Frey held another press conference, once again acknowledging people’s anger over Floyd’s death. But he also deemed the looting and destruction “unacceptable,” and called on the city for peace.
Asked by a reporter for a response to Trump’s tweets, Frey said, “Weakness is refusing to take responsibility for your own actions. Weakness is pointing your finger at somebody else during a time of crisis. Donald Trump knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis.”
Walz held a press conference mid-morning with members of his administration and the National Guard to discuss response to protests. He acknowledged the pain black Minnesotans are feeling but called for the restoration of order in the Twin Cities amid the destruction that came in protests’ wake this week.
“Minnesotans, your pain is real. The chapter that’s been written this week is one of our darkest chapters,” he said, adding that Minnesota can hope that the incident passes by or it can look in the mirror at the state’s disparities, among the worst in the country.
Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen expressed concern over a lack of clarity in what the Guard’s mission was supposed to be after it was called upon Thursday night, appearing to suggest a lack of direction from local leaders.
The Guard does not have the authority to deploy on its own, he said, instead relying on local governments.
Among several missions, the guard, at the request of Frey, helped clear the area around Lake Street and regain control of the Third Precinct after midnight.
Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said arrests were made using a “very limited and very structured and extremely disciplined approach” after warnings for those who did not leave the area, which he said sent most home.
“No one could have heard Mr. Floyd’s voice in the chaos of the screaming and the fires at 1 o’clock in the morning on Lake Street,” he said. “My job is to make sure tonight that the community is safe and that our team is ready and prepared to keep it safe.”
After the news conference seemed to have ended, Harrington announced that Chauvin, the police officer seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck in the video, had been arrested. Later, Hennepin County Attorney Freeman specified that Chauvin was charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.
By order of Gov. Tim Walz and supported by orders from Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter, 8 p.m. curfews were put into place in Minneapolis, St. Paul and much of the surrounding area.
That did not deter groups gathered in several parts of Minneapolis.
Near the now-burned Third Precinct in South Minneapolis, state troopers fired tear gas shortly before the curfew, the Star Tribune reported. Later, cars in the vicinity burned with no apparent response by police or law enforcement, leaving neighbors to put out fires. Neighbors at Midtown Global Market, which has commercial space on the ground floor and apartments above, carried baseball bats and fended off attempts at destruction on their building, one tweeted.
Another group marched from downtown onto I-35W, and another, at the Fifth Precinct on Nicollet in Southwest Minneapolis, assembled mostly peaceably. Fires were started at the post office, a Wells Fargo and convenience stores.
Fires were also started at businesses along West Broadway in north Minneapolis.
Walz and other officials held an early hours press conference declaring that even with 2,500 total officers, including local police departments, sheriff departments, State Patrol, the DNR and the National Guard, the response to unrest was overwhelmed by the number of people out.
At a 9 a.m. press conference, officials announced that the tenor of things had changed on the streets since earlier in the week, and that they believed many of the people agitating were coming from out of the region and state to cause chaos and unrest.
“The problem we’re hearing from a lot of our friends who have been in the movement in Minnesota for a long time, is you have someone who will go forward and break a window or try to start a fire or something … then go run back,” using protesters as a human shield, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter said.
Carter said of all the people arrested in relatively quiet St. Paul over the course of the night, none were local (later, he told KARE his initial numbers were incorrect and 12 out of 18 arrested were from Minnesota). Vice reported that far-right extremists have showed up to protests across the country this week, including posting images on Instagram in Minneapolis.
Officials announced that the Minnesota National Guard would be mobilized fully for the first time since World War II and pleaded with the public to stay in after 8 p.m.
Frey told Minnesotans that those out after curfew were providing cover for those who seek to further harm the city.
“By being out tonight, you are most definitely helping those who seek to wrong our city,” he said.
On Saturday afternoon, Gov. Tim Walz, faith and community leaders asked protesters to head home after participating in protests previously scheduled for the day.
One of those leaders, Justin Terrell, the executive director of the Council for Minnesotans of African Heritage, asked people to stay home and take care of each other. “I’m asking you, take the day, check on your people, prepare, pack a bag, protect your home. But do not end up in the crosshairs of an ideological battle that’s got nothing to do with us and never has. We are not your pawns,” he said.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation shut down freeways in the vicinity of Minneapolis from 7 p.m. through 6 a.m.
As an 8 p.m. curfew approached, neighborhoods throughout the Twin Cities developed plans to protect their homes and business.
Less than an hour after curfew, law enforcement, whose presence was much more conspicuous than on Thursday and Friday night, began to use tear gas and other less-than-lethal means to break up protests and sweep people out of previous hot spots, such as 31st Street and Nicollet Avenue.
The night was without major injuries or fires, and preliminary data showed 25 arrests in Hennepin County and 30 in Ramsey County. On Sunday morning, DPS Commissioner John Harrington said there could be as many as 40 to 50 more added to that figure once all arrests are tabulated. Many of the arrests were made for weapons violations.
Despite earlier estimates by authorities that as many as 80 percent of people arrested could be from out-of-state, Harrington said preliminary data suggest only 20 percent were, including people from Arkansas, Kansas City, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan.
Law enforcement arrested at least one member of the media, a photographer from WCCO, despite media members being exempt from the curfew. In another incident, caught on video, an officer shot a marking round at people gathered on their porch, an activity expressly allowed in the curfew order and even encouraged by the City of Minneapolis.
Walz apologized for the treatment of reporters at a Sunday morning press conference and took responsibility for the operations’ tactics.
Droves appeared on Lake Street and other areas affected by fires and looting to help clean up Sunday morning. Many also collected food and other supplies for residents of areas whose grocery stores and pharmacies were destroyed.
Peaceful protests gathered in Minneapolis and St. Paul. As the protests reached I-94 and 35W, the state moved up its planned road closures from 7 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Gov. Tim Walz announced Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would lead the prosecution of the case, working in conjunction with Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. That Ellison lead the case had been a request of George Floyd’s family, some Minnesota elected officials and many protesters.
Around 6 p.m., a gas tanker semi truck careened into a crowd of protesters on the I-35 Bridge in Minneapolis. Authorities later said the driver was already on the highway system when the roads were being closed, going approximately 70 mph before braking as he approached the crowd. Protesters, who had been kneeling on the bridge, fled to avoid the truck’s path. The driver was pulled out of the truck. He was treated for minor injuries at HCMC and arrested on suspicion of assault.
Authorities later said they believe the driver, Bogdan Vechirko, did not intend to hit protesters.
Police used tear gas and other less-than-lethal force methods to evacuate the bridge.
Past the 8 p.m. curfew, a few peaceful protesters were arrested at the Minnesota State Capitol. Some engaged in a peaceful march were arrested on Washington Avenue southeast of downtown Minneapolis.
As of Monday, authorities said a fire in north Minneapolis — which was extinguished quickly — was under investigation.
Monday marked a full week since George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Officer’s knee was on his neck for minutes.
The day passed in relative peace, with some gatherings and demonstrations planned.
Monday afternoon, the attorney hired by Floyd’s family announced an independent autopsy report found Floyd had, in fact, died by asphyxiation, contradicting the preliminary findings in the county medical examiner’s autopsy report which found that a combination of being restrained, intoxicants in his system and underlying medical conditions contributed to his death.
Gov. Tim Walz announced the curfews in place for Minneapolis and St. Paul the two nights prior would continue through Monday and Tuesday nights, this time from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Monday evening, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner released a final autopsy report listing the cause of Floyd’s death as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The manner of death was listed as homicide.
As protests continued in cities around the country, President Donald Trump called on governors in a speech from the White House to “dominate the streets,” deploying the National Guard to tamp down protests.
“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” he said.
In the Twin Cities, it was another calm night. Crowds gathered at the Governor’s Mansion — later at the State Capitol, and at Cup Foods, the site where Floyd was killed. The night ended with no major confrontations between protesters and police. Nearly 140 people were arrested between Ramsey and Hennepin counties, mostly for curfew violations, DPS Commissioner John Harrington said Tuesday. Thirteen guns were confiscated.
Correction: This article has been updated to correctly state how long Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck.