National Spotlight Left, But Minneapolis Continues Police Violence Protests on Fourth of July
“This city will never sleep until we get justice.”
Minneapolis has been protesting since May 26th, and although the national spotlight has gone elsewhere, Minneapolis continues to protest against police violence and held a large protest on the Fourth of July. Thousands took to the street on the national holiday demanding justice and change in the American police system.
“This city will never sleep until we get justice,” activist Royce White told demonstrators during the Black 4th march.
For nearly six weeks, Minneapolis residents have taken to the streets. At the outset, the movement was seen as an uprising, one that quickly spread across the country. In recent weeks, there have been fewer confrontations between protestors and riot police, but Minneapolis has also shown signs that it is building a much larger movement.
“We are renegotiating our social contract with the state,” White said.
Volunteers turned a Sheraton Hotel into a homeless shelter during the early stages of the protests, and after an eviction turned a nearby park into a homeless encampment. Mutual aid projects have also been on the rise as local groups have offered solidarity with their neighbors during the protests and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
A surge in coronavirus cases nationwide caused huge concern with officials pleading for caution over the holiday weekend. Some took to overcrowded beaches, while others continued their fight against racial injustice in America.
In downtown Minneapolis, hundreds of protesters took a knee with a fist in the air and held a moment of silence for black people who have died in police killings. Powerful images have also gone viral from recent protests, showing people in the streets waving sparklers during the Fourth of July protests.
While the police killing of George Floyd was the catalyst and his image and name remains front and center, recent protests have shown that the protests are not going away.
Minneapolis demonstrators also held a Justice for Breonna Taylor protest that drew thousands. Breonna Taylor was murdered by police as a part of a no-knock warrant they obtained for the wrong address. The Breonna Taylor protests centered violence against black women, a group often underrepresented according to many protesters and activists.
Some activists have also pushed for legislative changes, and over the holiday weekend, Minnesota Green Party spokesman Trahern Crews and Ward 7 city councilor Jane Prince advocated for a reparations bill in front of the state capitol building. The legislation known as the Saint Paul Recovery Act is a ten-point plan that would levy a tobacco tariff in order to help eliminate economic disparities between white and black Minnesotans.
Officers on Bail
The news of protests was also mixed with news about the former Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of George Floyd. Tou Thao was released from jail on a $750,00 bond making him the third police officer involved in the incident to be released from jail on bail.
The only police officer still in jail is Derek Chauvin, the officer who kneeled on Floyd’s neck. All four officers are awaiting trial.
One of the officers involved, J. Alexander Kueng was confronted at a grocery store by an angry citizen after his release. The woman behind the camera asked Kueng if he felt remorse for what he did.
The day of George Floyd’s death was Kueng’s third shift as a Minneapolis police officer, a job he took to reform the department from within, according to his mother in a New York Times profile.
Two of Kueng’s adopted siblings joined in protests and called for the arrests of all four officers including their brother. Kueng’s story has feed fuel to the fire of those arguing police reform is not possible and more drastic steps are necessary.
The Fourth of July police violence protests are a sign that for now the movement to defund the police still has significant momentum behind it.