In Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020, an African American man named George Floyd was arrested by four police officers for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. He was pinned to the ground by three officers, and died.
One of the police officers, Derek Chauvin, kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, ignoring his pleas and his cry of “I can’t breathe” repeated more than twenty times. Here was another case of police violence targeting African Americans, but this time there was a massive response with protests everywhere, joining up with the movement Black Lives Matter. We asked four American daily newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, The Sacramento Bee, The New York Times and The Washington Post, to present their selection of the coverage of the protests.
Los Angeles Times In the wake of the killing of George Floyd massive demonstrations against police violence and supporting Black Lives Matter took place, not only in America but around the globe. The demonstrations quickly overwhelmed all other news, and became one of the most important stories of the year.
Because of the scale of the demonstrations, they became a unique challenge to cover. The photography staff of Los Angeles Times was assigned to visually capture the many layers of the story, mainly in Southern California, but also in Minnesota.
The size and scope of the protests forced our journalists to predict where the main news would happen so as to keep up with the constantly changing events on the ground and get to the right place at the right time. They excelled at capturing the key moments, the emotion and passion of the protests, the police response and the aftermath of the heated exchanges. They did this at great personal risk while continuing to be objective observers, making powerful images that documented the struggle in the streets. The results are impressive.
The New York Times
Protests swept across the United States in a forceful outcry against systemic racism and police brutality inspired by the killing of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. A widely viewed video that showed police officer Derek Chauvin holding a knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes provoked outrage and swift condemnation. Local protests that began in Minneapolis quickly spread to New York, Washington and Los Angeles, as well as Ferguson (Missouri), Tampa (Florida), and Tulsa (Oklahoma). Demonstrators took to the streets by the thousands demanding justice for Mr. Floyd and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters clashed, sometimes violently, with police forces, many in cities that had been under stay-at-home orders because of the coronavirus pandemic. Four officers at the scene were fired and arrested, and Mr. Chauvin was ultimately charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Largely peaceful protests continued through a second weekend and six days of memorials for Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis (Minnesota), Raeford (North Carolina), and Houston (Texas) where he was buried on June 9. Since George Floyd’s death, protests have been held in hundreds of American cities and towns, and also around the world.
The photographs were made on assignment for The New York Times by Juan Arredondo, Victor J. Blue, Simbarashe Cha, Chloe Collyer, Whitney Curtis, Bryan Denton, Demetrius Freeman, Ruth Fremson, Todd Heisler, Chang W. Lee, Michael A. McCoy, and Joshua Rashaad McFadden. Photos edited by Meaghan Looram and Beth Flynn.
The Sacramento Bee Protests in Sacramento, California, over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police were part of a “revolution,” as members of Black Lives Matter and the public called for police reform.
See the emotional images with personal stories of challenges and hope by Sacramento Bee staff photographers: Renée C. Byer, Paul Kitagaki Jr., Daniel Kim, Xavier Mascareñas, and Jason Pierce.
The Black Lives Matter protests that numbered an estimated 1,000 at its peak was the largest and, at times, the least controlled of what has now been a series of angry anti-police violence events in the capital city of California going back more than two years since the 2018 police killing of south Sacramentan Stephon Clark.
Here are just some of the many scenes of violent protests and riots that exploded in cities around the country after videos showed George Floyd being pinned to the ground by several Minneapolis police officers. As an officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, Floyd was pleading to be let up, saying he could not breathe.
By the fourth day of protests the California National Guard came to Sacramento in response to protests turning violent and developing into riots. Crowds had damaged and looted businesses, and the police had fought back with tear gas and rubber bullets.
On June 5, 2020, a crowd of more than 2,000 people conducted a series of 8 minute, 46 second “Die-Ins” at Greenhaven Drive near Florin Road, three blocks from Mayor Darrell Steinberg's house. That was how long Floyd was pinned to the ground by police. Black Lives Matter Sacramento organized that event.
Thousands of people, impassioned yet solemn, took to the streets of Sacramento again on the Friday night to protest the police killings of black men and women in the United States as calls for police reform grew across the nation.
The Washington Post
In the hours following the release of the video of George Floyd’s last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of life, pinned down by police officers, there was little doubt that this latest documented case of police violence leading to the death of a black man would be different. The protests in Minneapolis quickly spread across the United States, and then the world, as the Black Lives Matter movement was embraced, encompassing all the injustices suffered by people of color. The Washington Post mobilized photographers in Minnesota, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and many other cities, including of course the national capital where President Donald Trump’s White House has come to symbolize, for many, the inequalities which this new civil rights movement is determined to fight. Olivier Laurent