PBS NewsHour


What George Floyd's death says about U.S. police culture

Communities in Minneapolis are reeling from the death of George Floyd, the bitter dynamic many residents feel with law enforcement and how protests have changed over the past day. Minnesota’s governor called in the National Guard Thursday to help quell demonstrations that left one person dead. Yamiche Alcindor reports, and Amna Nawaz talks to Tyrone Terrill, a Minneapolis community leader.

AIRED: May 28, 2020 | 0:09:55

JUDY WOODRUFF: The other main story we are following is in Minneapolis, where many are

reeling tonight from the death in the hands of police officers of George Floyd, from the

strained relations many residents feel with law enforcement, and as a result of how protests

have changed over the past day.

Yamiche Alcindor begins our coverage tonight with a report on the latest. Then, Amna Nawaz

speaks with a community leader from the Twin Cities.

This reporting is part of our ongoing series Race Matters.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Violent protests, a community reeling, and a case that continues to capture

the nation.

Minneapolis in daylight, smoke still billowing from burnt-out buildings, debris scattered

on the ground. For a second night, demonstrations broke out over the death of George Floyd.

And again there was violence. Amid the chaos, one man was shot dead.

This afternoon, the National Guard activate in response to the unrest. The city has been

on edge since the Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for some eight minutes.

Floyd, a black man, had no pulse by the time he was loaded into an ambulance. The 46-year-old

later died at a nearby hospital.

Today, Mayor Jacob Frey acknowledged the city's pain.

JACOB FREY (D), Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota: Last night is the result of so much built-up

anger and sadness, anger and sadness that has been ingrained in our black community,

not just because five minutes of horror, but 400 years.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Yesterday, the protests started peacefully. Hundreds stood in the

streets just south of downtown, protesting Floyd's death. But pockets of rioting spread.

Looters broke into a Target store, smashed pawn shop windows, and set an AutoZone aflame.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo:

MEDARIA ARRADONDO, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Police Chief: The vast majority of people

that have come together have been doing so peacefully. But there was core group of people

that had really been focused on causing some destruction.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: And he accepted partial responsibility for the city's unrest.

MEDARIA ARRADONDO: I know that there is currently a deficit of hope in our city. And as I wear

this uniform before you, I know that this department has contributed to that deficit.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Today, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said President

Trump has been briefed on Floyd's death by the attorney general and the FBI.

KAYLEIGH MCENANY, White House Press Secretary: He was very upset by it. It was egregious,

appalling, tragic. And it prompted him to pick up the phone, or the chief of staff to

pick up the phone, and say we need to expedite what was already an FBI investigation. He

wants justice to be served.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: That comes as the officer who kneeled on Floyd's neck and the officers

who witnessed the incident have been fired.

Mayor Frey has called for them to face charges.

Across the country, police chiefs in places like Houston and Los Angeles have condemned

the officers' actions and praised Arradondo for their dismissal. That comes as police

departments have put more resources into things like de-escalation training and building community


In the wake of the violence, community members and Floyd's family have cautioned protesters

to remain nonviolent. Today, that was echoed in a prayer vigil nearby the grocery store

where Floyd was detained. It was led by Reverend Al Sharpton.

AL SHARPTON, Civil Rights Activist: But there is a difference between peace and quiet.


AL SHARPTON: Some people just want quiet. The price for peace is justice.

YAMICHE ALCINDOR: Sharpton urged the community to stay engaged while they mourn.

For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Yamiche Alcindor.

AMNA NAWAZ: We take a further look now at the events overnight and a sense of what residents

of the Twin Cities are feeling today with Tyrone Terrill, a longtime community activist

and president of the African-American Leadership Council. It's a local community engagement


Tyrone Terrill, welcome to the "NewsHour," and thank you for being with us.

As you well know, the eyes of the country are on Minneapolis right now. And people are

looking at those images from overnight and the unrest and struggling to make sense of

it. We heard Mayor Frey talk about the anger and sadness. But what can you tell us about

what unfolded last night in Minneapolis and what's happening there now?

TYRONE TERRILL, President, African-American Leadership Council: Well, what's happening

now -- and, first, thanks for having me.

But what's happening now is, we want justice, and justice meaning that we want the officers

not only terminated, which we got from our - - to our meeting on Monday with Mayor Frey

and Chief Arradondo. But we want the officers charged by our local Hennepin County attorney,

Mike Freeman, to charge these officers, have them arrested, have them put in jail, and,

need be, make bail, but to serve as any other criminal who committed murder in our city.

And Mr. Floyd was murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. And that officer needs to

be treated as the criminal that he is.

AMNA NAWAZ: Does what you have seen so far, the swift firing of the four officers, Mayor

Frey publicly calling for charges -- we just now had a press conference from the U.S. attorney

in Minnesota and the FBI saying it's a top priority.

Does all of that give you a sense that there will be justice?

TYRONE TERRILL: I have a sense of justice from our U.S. attorney, Erica MacDonald. We

have spent a lot of time with her in the last six to eight months.

So I believe, if she gets the right report on her desk, that she will find this officer

guilty of violating the civil and human rights of Mr. Floyd.

But it's really important that our county attorney does his part. He prosecuted his

first officer, which was a black officer and who is in prison now for killing somebody.

We want the same thing done when a white officer kills a black person from our community.

AMNA NAWAZ: I need to ask you about the video.

There's been a lot of debate and discussion about this over the last just few days. We

all know the truth in America. We know that law enforcement disproportionately kill black

men, and every time there is a video documenting that devastating truth, people will think,

well, this will change things, this will help.

It doesn't. It keeps happening.

So, I want to ask you, what is the collective impact of video after video documenting this?

Is it helping? Is it leading to change, or is it just contributing to the trauma?

TYRONE TERRILL: Well, it leads to change, because, without video, whether it was Philando

Castile, whether in this case with Mr. Floyd, without video, there would be nothing happening,

because, normally, people side on the side of blue.

And so the videos are very, very important, because the public firsthand gets to see untampered,

un -- you know, so it's a finished product. So, people need the video. Without the videos,

we don't get them fired. The video got him fired. The video got the four officers fired.

And so, without that video, I keep telling everybody, keep videoing. Those videos are

very important. And they're the only way that we have a chance to get justice.

AMNA NAWAZ: It's been called by some as contributing to a collective trauma, that, especially when

there isn't any action on the back of video after video, it can end up making things worse

for people in the African-American community.

Do you agree with that?

TYRONE TERRILL: Well, what has to happen -- and I have said this numerous times -- President

Obama had it for community policing six pillars.

The seventh pillar -- or the first pillar should be valuing humanity of block people

as you do white people. If you make a stop in the same way you do a white person -- officers

would not have done that to a white person.

So, when you don't value our humanity, you don't value us as humans, and you treat us

as animals -- and that's the way Mr. Floyd was treated. He was begging for his mother

at the end.

It's just painful to even think about that none of us want to die, but to die in that

manner, in the hands of somebody that's hired to protect and serve, in the streets he was

raised in, or as adult living in Minneapolis, it's unheard of.

And it has to stop. And we keep saying it on each one. I think, as the mother of Eric

Garner said here today, that if it had stopped five, six years ago, when her son was killed,

when he said, "I can't breathe," we wouldn't be doing it again today.

And so it's not just going to take black America, but all Americans say, enough is enough with

these kind of killings.

AMNA NAWAZ: Mr. Terrill, in just a few seconds left, I have to ask you.

There's been rallies in other cities sparked by Mr. Floyd's death, in Memphis and Los Angeles.

Does this moment in any way feel different to you?

TYRONE TERRILL: It doesn't feel different.

I understand the pain, but this is a marathon now. After the rallies are gone, those of

us in Minneapolis will still have to fight this fight to get a verdict of guilty from

our county attorney or from, hopefully, our U.S. attorney.

So this is just the beginning of a long race that many of us will have to endure. But we're

going to do it, because Mr. Floyd deserves justice. He doesn't deserve all the other

stuff that's going on right now, but a 46-year-old man lost his life, was murdered, because he

was black in America.

AMNA NAWAZ: That is Tyrone Terrill, president of the African-American Leadership Council.

Thank you so much for being with us tonight.

TYRONE TERRILL: Thank you for having me.