Distinction: Difference exists between protestors, rioters

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Peaceful protestors wave their signs on the Portage Lake Lift Bridge Wednesday.

Protests and riots have organized and are taking place all over the country over the past week and into the unforeseeable future, following the killing of George Floyd. Who are the protesters, who are the rioters, and what are the goals of each?

On May 25, an African American man, George Floyd, was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. Chauvin has since been taken into custody, but peaceful protests and violent riots have taken place since the night of May 25, and continue. Across the country, protesters have marched the streets of multiple cities against police brutality and ongoing civil rights issues. The protests have jumped across oceans, and protests are now globally unfolding in countries such as Italy, the U.K., Canada and Syria, the last of which recently had a civil war, with the rebels receiving backing from the U.S.

The peaceful protests beginning in Minneapolis demanded justice for George Floyd and an end to police brutality, with thousands taking to the streets. While protesters and demonstrators marched for peace, outsiders flooded the city with intent to cause havoc and disrupt the peace. Gov. Tim Walz blamed the destruction on out-of-area hate groups, and called it “an assault on Minneapolis.” Black community leaders believe the destruction to have been at the hands of anarchists and white supremacists. Gov. Walz and the Minneapolis Chief of Police both went on record stating that over 80% of the arrested rioters were from out of Minneapolis.

“The situation in Minneapolis is no longer in anyway about the murder of George Floyd,” Walz said. “It is about attacking civil society, instilling fear and disrupting our great city.”

While Minneapolis marched for justice for a murdered man, hate groups incited havoc and tried to discredit a legitimate movement.

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Houghton Police Chief John Donnelly conducts an interview.

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan verbally struck against those taking advantage of Minneapolis’s vulnerability.

“There are white supremacists there,” she said. “There are anarchists. There are people who are burning down institutions that are core to identity.”

Last week, video evidence of Flanagan’s claim went viral. A video showed a white man in all-black with a gas mask and a hammer smashing the windows of an AutoZone, which, prior to the video, had been used to try to discredit peaceful protesters. Local residents had taken advantage of the instigated riots, and have been recorded looting devastated Targets and liquor stores.

“The outrage of our national community about what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis is real and legitimate,” U.S. Attorney General William Barr said in an issued statement on the unrest on May 31. “Accountability for his death must be addressed, and is being addressed, through the regular process of our criminal justice system, both at the state and at the federal level.”

The U.S. criminal justice system has been proven to lack strength in racial equality, however. Barr gave the order himself to clear the peaceful protesters from the streets Monday night for President Donald Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church, just before D.C.’s 7 p.m. curfew, according to the Associated Press. Barr’s own orders to disperse peaceful protesters, “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander, as well as the history of Ferguson Missouri’s police department, and Minneapolis’s police department stand as testaments, to the justice system’s questionable reputation times. One example of Minneapolis’s corrupt department is the released autopsy report for Floyd.

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Protestors show their signs to passers-by.

Floyd’s family ordered a private autopsy which had vastly opposing findings to that of the MPD autopsy report. The attorney of the Floyd family, Ben Crump, revealed the results found by Dr. Michael Baden and Dr. Allecia Wilson, and requested that the charges against Chauvin be altered from third degree murder to second.

Crump revealed that Baden’s autopsy showed that, “sustained pressure on the right side of Floyd’s carotid artery impeded blood flow to the brain, and weight on his back impeded his ability to breathe.” The medical examiners also determined that Mr. Floyd’s position on the ground did not allow for proper diaphragm function.

“What we found is consistent with what people saw,” said Dr. Baden. “There is no other health issue that could cause to contribute to the death. Police have this false impression that if you can talk, you can breathe. That’s not true.”

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said the manner of death is homicide, and underlined the cause of death being cardiopulmonary arrest complicating subdued and neck compression. The County report also included hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication, and recent use of methamphetamine. Dr. Baden is a former New York City chief medical examiner.

Peaceful protests demanding proper justice for Floyd and people of color in general, remain illusive amid anarchist and white supremacist riots with the intent of general havoc. These riots are intimidating and infringing upon honest protesters’ 1st Amendment rights of peaceful protests. The Federal Bureau of Investigation have recently released a statement saying they are “seeking information on individuals inciting violence during First Amendment-protected peaceful demonstrations.” The release goes on to say, “The FBI respects the rights of individuals to peacefully exercise their First Amendment rights. Our mission of protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is dual and simultaneous, not contradictory. Accordingly, we are committed to apprehending and charging violent instigators who are exploiting legitimate, peaceful protests and engaging in violations of federal law. The continued violence, potential threat to life, and destruction of property across the United States interferes with the rights and safety of First Amendment-protected peaceful demonstrators, as well as all other citizens.”

Joshua Vissers/Daily Mining Gazette Protestors show their signs to passers-by.

The protesters are one body, and the rioters are another. They are not the same.


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