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White US Policeman Charged with Murder in Black Man's Death

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A police officer in the American city of Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been arrested and charged with murder in the May 25 death of George Floyd.

The police officer is white. Floyd was African-American.

A video recorded at the time shows Derek Chauvin, the police officer, kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes as he lay on the street. Floyd repeatedly said, "I can't breathe," and, "Please, I can't breathe," as the crowd asked the officer to stop.

A portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the incident.
A portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the incident.

Floyd died a short time later.

Three other police officers involved in the arrest are also seen on the video.

The mayor of Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, and other local leaders denounced the police officers' actions. All four were dismissed from the force the next day. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice are investigating.

A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis.
A protester carries a U.S. flag upside down, a sign of distress, next to a burning building, May 28, 2020, in Minneapolis.

The incident incited three days of unrest in the city. The protesters threw stones at police, burned buildings, and damaged businesses. Minneapolis fire officials reported that 16 buildings were burned Wednesday night. National Guard troops were called in to protect the area.

Thursday night, police officers were told to leave the 3rd Precinct police station, where the crowd had gathered to protest Floyd's death. Livestream video showed protesters throwing objects, breaking the glass entrance to the building, and setting the building on fire.

Clouds of smoke still hung over the city Friday morning.

U.S. President Donald Trump criticized the violence and the city's mayor, who belongs to the Democratic Party. Trump is a Republican.

The president wrote on Twitter that he would send in National Guard troops to, in his words, "get the job done right" if the mayor, who he described as 'weak,' failed to restore order. He added, "Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts."

The message led to a warning from Twitter, which said it violated rules about "glorifying violence."

Meeting with reporters on Friday, Mayor Jacob Frey defended his decision to evacuate the police station, saying it had become dangerous for officers. He said, "There is a lot of pain and anger right now in our city. I understand that ... What we have seen over the past several hours and past couple of nights here in terms of looting is unacceptable."

Across the street from the police station, windows in nearly every business had been broken. The Target department store chain said it would close several nearby stores, including the one heavily damaged in the rioting. One restaurant was burned almost beyond recognition. Other businesses covered their windows and doors.

Protesters gather in front of the Third Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes
Protesters gather in front of the Third Police Precinct on May 28, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, during a demonstration over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes

Protests in other cities

The protests in Minneapolis spread across the river to the city of Saint Paul, Minnesota. Its Mayor Melvin Carter, who is black, wrote on Twitter, "Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again.'

In New York City Thursday, protesters disobeyed the city's COVID-19 ban on public gatherings. Some demonstrators clashed with police there. Demonstrators also blocked traffic in Denver, Colorado, and Columbus, Ohio. A day earlier, protesters demonstrated in Los Angeles, California and Memphis, Tennessee.

In Louisville, Kentucky, police confirmed that at least seven people had been shot Thursday night. Protesters there were demanding justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who police shot and killed in her home in March.

I'm Caty Weaver.

Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on Associated Press and Reuters news reports. George Grow was the editor.

Words in This Story

counterfeit - n. an exact copy of something in order to trick people

distress - n. pain

loot - v. to steal something from a place

glorify - v. to make something seem much better or more important than it really is

evacuate - v. to leave a dangerous place

focus - v. to direct attention and effort at something

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