(TMU) – Four officers from the Minneapolis Police Department have been fired over the killing of George Floyd on Tuesday, in perhaps the most high-profile and gut-wrenching example of police brutality in the U.S. in recent years.
In dramatic video that is being shared tens of thousands of times across social media, Floyd can be seen being begging for his life and repeatedly screaming “I can’t breathe” as a Minneapolis police officer holds the man with his neck on his knee until he chokes to death.
On Tuesday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced that the four officers involved in Monday’s deadly incident are now “former employees” of the force. While an investigation of the incident by local and federal authorities remains pending, Arradondo admitted:
“We know there are inherent dangers in the profession of policing but the vast majority of the work we do never require the use of force.”
In response to the four officers’ termination, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey greeted the move as “the right call.”
Four responding MPD officers involved in the death of George Floyd have been terminated.
This is the right call.
— Mayor Jacob Frey (@MayorFrey) May 26, 2020
The apparent homicide of Floyd threatens to unleash a new wave of unrest over the needless killing of an unarmed and helpless Black man in broad daylight, and comes in the midst of continued outrage over the vigilante-style killing of Ahmaud Arbery by three white men in a Georgia suburb.
While the names of the four fired officers involved in Floyd’s killing haven’t yet been released, the victim’s family’s attorney Benjamin Crump has identified two of the perpetrators as officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thou. Now-former Officer Chauvin is believed to be the main cop responsible for killing Floyd.
We did it!! Your calls to @jacob_frey led to the termination of all four officers 👏🏾 Now call DA Mike Freeman (612-348-5550) and tell him to ARREST & CHARGE these officers for the murder of #GeorgeFloyd. We must continue to fight for #JusticeForFloyd!! #SayHisName pic.twitter.com/2VHCS7doQp
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) May 26, 2020
Meanwhile, the Minneapolis Star Tribune has uncovered “records and news accounts [showing] that Chauvin has been involved in at least three police-involved shootings over his career with the MPD: Wayne Reyes in 2006, and Leroy Martinez and Ira Latrell Toles, both in 2011.”
MPD spokesman John Elder also told the Star Tribune that the restraint technique using Chauvin’s knee went against department training. Elder said:
“In my years as an officer, that would not be what I would ever consider a chokehold.”
In video captured by a bystander at the intersection of Chicago Ave. and East 38th St. at around 8 p.m. on Monday, Floyd can be heard crying out that he can’t breathe while a white officer kneels directly on his neck for several minutes.
the now lifeless subject of your command and control policing ,
the human being under your brutal knee.
— 𝐑𝐞𝐯. 𝐂𝐨𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐥𝐥 𝐖𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐚𝐦 𝐁𝐫𝐨𝐨𝐤𝐬 (@CornellWBrooks) May 26, 2020
In the disturbing footage, Floyd – who is believed to be in his 40s – begs for mercy for several minutes to no avail. He said:
“Please, I can’t breathe. I can’t move … My stomach hurts, my neck hurts. Everything hurts.”
While the shirtless man also cries out for his mother, bystanders also plead with the officer to simply let the man get some oxygen. The witnesses can be head saying:
“Why you got to hold him down? He’s not even resisting arrest.
“He’s not doing nothing, he was just getting in the car.”
An officer can then be heard replying: “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.’
To which a bystander sharply responded:
“This ain’t about drugs, bro! He’s human … You’re enjoying it. Look at you. Your body language, you bum. You know that’s bogus right now.”
While a female voice is heard saying, “His nose is bleeding.”
Finally, a witness can then be heard saying:
“You’re going to just sit there with your knee on his neck? He’s not moving. Did you kill him?”
At that point, it becomes apparent in the video that the body of Floyd was non-responsive. He died a short time later after being transported to a nearby hospital, according to the department.
In a statement that came before the announced termination of the four officers, the Minneapolis Police Department claim that the officers were responding to an alleged “forgery in progress.” The statement added:
“After [the suspect] got out [of his car], he physically resisted officers … Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and note he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
An update from the department’s PIO: pic.twitter.com/DZDLHp99Wd
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) May 26, 2020
The case is now being investigated by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as well as the FBI. In a Tuesday press conference, Mayor Frey blasted the police conduct as “wrong on every level” while saying Floyd’s life “mattered.”
Continuing, the mayor said:
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence.
“For five minutes, we watched as a white officer pressed his knee into the neck of a Black man. For five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help. This officer failed in the most basic human sense.”
As outrage mounts on a global scale, critics and social media users are drawing comparisons to the 2014 killing of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old Black male who was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and similarly died begging for his life and crying “I can’t breathe.”
The killing of Garner came less than a month before the killing of Black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and precipitated one of the most active years of protest and community unrest the U.S. had seen in decades.
This is murder. Disgusting. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with US???? https://t.co/wesEwd4Bb2
— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerr) May 26, 2020
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is also representing the family of Black 25-year-old Georgia murder victim Ahmaud Arbery, said in a statement:
“This abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning about a non-violent charge,”
“We will seek justice for the family of George Floyd, as we demand answers from the Minnesota Police Department. How many ‘while Black’ deaths will it take until the racial profiling and undervaluing of Black lives by police finally ends?”
The video of a Minneapolis police officer killing a defenseless, handcuffed man is one of the most vile and heartbreaking images I’ve ever seen. The officer who stood guard is just as responsible as his partner; both must be held fully accountable. This must stop now.
— Mayor Melvin Carter (@MayorCarter) May 26, 2020
Local social movement organizer Nekima Levy-Armstrong told the Star Tribune that viewing the footage made her “sick to her stomach” yet was sadly typical of the brutal treatment meted out by police toward Black men in the United States. She added:
“Whatever the man may have done should not have ended in a death sentence … What started as an alleged economic incident once again turned deadly for a black man.”
On Tuesday afternoon, dozens of community members began to gather at the same intersection where Floyd was killed, signaling outrage in Minneapolis that is sure to mount in coming days. The peaceful protest was held somberly as mourners placed flowers and balloons at the site of the killing.
However, it remains to be seen whether the community will be willing to maintain its current stance of seeming passivity if Floyd’s killers are not given due punishment for the killing of an unarmed and helpless Black man.
Protesters are in the streets calling for justice after George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died in Minneapolis Police custody Monday night. A video taken by a bystander showed an officer kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes as he repeatedly told the officers he couldn't breathe. MORE: https://bit.ly/2zlRYgN
Posted by Fox 11 Los Angeles on Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Prison Guard Who Had Sex With Inmate In Front Of 11 Prisoners Is Now Behind Bars
A prison guard in California now finds herself behind bars after she was caught having sexual relations with an inmate – in one case, performing the act in full view of 11 other prisoners.
Former Fresno County correctional officer Tina Gonzalez, 26, was arrested last May following an investigation by the vice unit of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office’s and its internal affairs division.
Gonzalez, who worked as a prison guard from 2016 to 2019, was investigated after authorities were tipped off that an inmate was having sex with a prison guard who had also smuggled in a phone, reports the Fresno Bee.
In one case, Gonzalez even cut a hole in the pants of her uniform to allow easier access during sexual acts with the unnamed prisoner at Fresno County Jail.
Gonzalez was also accused of having sex in full view of 11 inmates, an act that her former boss says “is something only a depraved mind can come up with.”
Assistant Sheriff Steve McComas, who once supervised the unit Gonzalez belonged to, said that in his entire career of 26 years he has witnessed some “pretty disgusting things” but none as bad as Gonzalez’s conduct.
“She took an oath which she betrayed and in doing so endangered her co-workers’ lives,” McComas said.
“But she has shown no remorse,” he added. “She continually calls and has sexually explicit conversations with the inmate in question and boasts about the crimes she carried out.”
Gonzalez pleaded no contest in April to one count of sexual activity by a detention facility employee with a consenting confined adult, one count of possession of drugs or an alcoholic beverage in a jail facility and a misdemeanor count of possession of cellular device with intent to deliver to an inmate.
When she was being sentenced, Judge Michael Idiart decried her acts as “terrible, stupid” and noted that her career had been “ruined.”
“But I also believe that people can redeem themselves and you have the rest of your life to do that,” the judge added. “Good luck.”
Gonzalez is now serving her sentence of seven months in county jail to be followed by two years of probation.
Judge Orders New Trove of Secret Ghislaine Maxwell Files to Be Unsealed This Month
A large trove of secretive files about Ghislaine Maxwell will be unsealed this month, including those shedding light on her relationship with disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein, a judge ruled on Thursday.
The documents will include details on her finances, as well as “funding received from the Clinton Global Initiative and the Clinton Foundation,” according to court records.
The documents are also believed to detail Maxwell’s extensive connections with powerful men such as Prince Andrew of the British royal family, reports the Daily Mail.
It has long been well-known that Epstein and Maxwell associated with both Clinton and former President Donald Trump. Clinton also reportedly met with accused Maxwell for an “intimate” dinner in 2014.
The documents are a part were filed by Epstein accuser and former “sex slave” Virginia Roberts Giuffre in a 2015 civil lawsuit against Maxwell and must be released in mid-July, Judge Loretta Preska ruled in Thursday’s telephone hearing.
Giuffre sued Maxwell for defamation after she was accused by the British socialite of fabricating the sexual abuse allegations against her and Epstein in the lawsuit, which has since been settled.
Last July, a deposition by Giuffre was unsealed. In the deposition, Giuffre went into detail about alleged “constant” orgies that Maxwell and the late pedophile engaged in on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
“There’s just a blur of so many girls,” Giuffre explained in the 2015 deposition.
“There were blondes, there were brunettes, there were redheads,” she continued. “They were all beautiful girls. I would say the ages ranged between 15 and 21.”
“The island was a place where orgies were a constant thing that took place. And again, it’s impossible to know how many,” Giuffre said, noting that she was “100 percent certain” that Maxwell took part in sexual acts with the girls.
Maxwell is accused of grooming multiple minors to engage in sex acts with Epstein, her ex-boyfriend, by befriending them to ask them about their lives and families while building friendships with the young girls alongside Epstein by taking their victims on social outings or out shopping in the 1990s and 2000s.
Maxwell has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, pending trial.
Her five appeals to be released from jail have all been rejected.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in a lone cell in the special housing unit (SHU) of a federal Manhattan prison in New York City while facing a potential prison sentence of up to 45 years on charges of pedophilia and sex trafficking.
2 More Catholic Churches in Canada Burned as Third Mass Gravesite for Indigenous Kids Found
An additional two Catholic churches have been the target of likely arson in Canada as anger continues to grow in the aftermath of the discovery of over 1,000 human remains belonging to Indigenous children.
The news coincides with the discovery of a third site where 182 unmarked graves were located near a discovered near a residential school in British Columbia’s interior.
Early Wednesday morning, firefighters were dispatched to respond to a fire at St. Jean Baptiste Parish in Morinville, Alberta, which was basically gutted by the blaze.
“The fire was already fully involved from the basement when the first fire crews got here,” Morinville’s infrastructure general manager Iain Bushell told CTV News. “They entered the building but there was already collapse occurring on the inside of the church so they backed out and it’s been a defensive or exterior fire fight ever since.”
Police officials have described the blaze as “suspicious.”
Roughly an hour later, a fire was also reported at the Catholic St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church in Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia, reports CBC.
At least seven churches, nearly all Catholic, have come under apparent arson attacks throughout Canada in recent weeks. Activists and Indigenous advocates have also defaced Catholic churches with bloody red hand and foot prints, while demonstrations have also been staged involving stuffed animal and the slogan “we were children.”
While it remains unclear what precisely caused the fires, they are believed to be linked to the recent discovery of mass graves and unmarked graves containing over 1,000 human remains near Catholic-run residential schools for First Nations children.
The discovery came just few weeks after the grim discovery of 215 Indigenous children’s bodied by the Tk’emlúps te Secwe̓pemc First Nation in a mass grave at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Colombia.
Also last month, the Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan announced its discovery of 751 unmarked graves near the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School, which operated from 1899 to 1997 in the area.
Another site with 182 unmarked graves was announced Wednesday after an investigation undertaken by the community of ʔaq’am, near Cranbrook, British Columbia.
About 150,000 First Nations children were forcibly separated from their families and communities and forced to attend the religious schools which were established in the 19th century to assimilate Indigenous children into the Anglo settler-colonial culture of Canada.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has confirmed that large amounts of Indigenous children fled such residential schools or died there, their whereabouts unknown. Former students have also testified to the horrific sexual, mental and physical abuse they suffered while enrolled at the schools. Myriad students died from preventable diseases that rapidly spread in unsanitary conditions, as well as in accidents and fires. Others disappeared when trying to escape. The Commission has denounced the schools for institutionalizing child neglect and for being organs of “cultural genocide.”
Indigenous groups and Canadian politicians are also demanding an apology from the Catholic Church – specifically Pope Francis. Activists have also rejected Canada Day celebrations this year to highlight the anti-Indigenous atrocities that the founding of the North American country entailed.