Photo Credit: The Offices of Ben Crump Law – Richard Tsong-Taatarii/The Star Tribune
- A viral video shows a white police officer kneeling on the throat of George Floyd, a black man who was declared dead at a hospital shortly after the incident Monday.
- A police statement detailing the event erroneously claimed that officers “noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress” and called for an ambulance.
- However, the video shows the officer kneeling on Floyd’s throat for at least 8 minutes, even after he became unresponsive, and only stopping when the ambulance arrived.
- Police also claimed that Floyd “physically resisted officers,” but security footage seems to show that he complied with the arresting officers, at least initially.
Initial Police Report
A 46-year-old black man named George Floyd died Monday after a police officer pinned him to the ground and kneeled on his neck for several minutes outside a grocery store in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Most of what is currently known about the incident comes from a now-viral video taken by a bystander named Darnella Frazier, who posted it on her Facebook page late Monday night.
However, a statement released by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) the same evening titled “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction” painted a drastically different picture.
According to that statement, just after 8 p.m., police responded to a “report of a forgery in progress” involving a suspect that “appeared to be under the influence.” Two officers arrived on the scene, located the suspect in his car, and ordered him to step out.
The suspect allegedly “physically resisted officers,” though they managed to get him into handcuffs. However, the statement goes on to say that during that process, the officers “noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress,” and called for an ambulance.
“He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later,” MPD said, before noting that no weapons were used by anyone involved in the incident.
Video Version of Events
By early Tuesday morning, Frazier’s video was being shared all over social media, casting serious doubts and prompting widespread outrage over the version of events as told by the police.
The 10-minute video begins with Floyd being pinned down beside a police car by a white police officer who has his knee on his neck. Throughout the whole episode, another officer stands by him. Two other officers were also at the scene.
While the MPD has not identified any of the four men present, an attorney for the officer that is seen in the video with his knee in Floyd’s neck later identified him as 44-year-old Derek Chauvin. Several outlets have identified the officer who remains by him as Tou Thao.
Floyd is heard crying out, repeatedly begging the officer to stop. “Please. Please. I can’t breathe. Please,” he says over and over.
A bystander approaches Chauvin from several feet away, urging him to get off of Floyd. “You got him down, man,” he says. “Let him breathe at least, man.”
Floyd again says that he can’t breathe. Thao says “he’s fine.” Chauvin tells Floyd to “relax.”
At one point Floyd calls out for his mother.
“My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,” he cries. “I want some water or something. Please. Please. I can’t breathe. They gonna kill me. They gonna kill me man.”
More bystanders start asking the police to stop, with one pointing out that his nose is bleeding, seemingly from having his face pushed into the cement road.
“You having fun?” some asks angrily.
“I cannot breathe,” says Floyd. “I cannot breathe.”
Shortly after, the bystanders escalate their calls, yelling at Chauvin to stop.
“Bro, why you just sitting there? He ain’t doing nothing,” one person shouts. “Just put him in your car!”
“They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me,” Floyd can be heard saying over the din.
“He’s still talking. He’s fine,” Thao responds to the crowd.
“Bro, he ain’t fine,” says one of the more vocal bystanders. “You’re fucking stopping his breathing right there bro.”
“Man, I Can’t breathe,” Floyd says.
“Okay, he’s talking,” Thao says again.
About four minutes into the video, Floyd becomes unresponsive. The bystanders’ yells intensify, and Chauvin pulls something off his belt that prompts someone in the crowd to call out: “What the fuck, he got mace. He got mace.”
Several bystanders repeatedly ask the police to check Floyd’s pulse. They refuse.
“How long am I going to have this conversation?” Thao asks.
The crowd’s calls escalate for the next few minutes. They say that he is not moving, and that Chauvin is killing him.
Meanwhile, Chauvin still has his knee on Floyd’s neck the whole time, and he continues to keep it there almost four minutes after Floyd becomes unresponsive. He only takes his knee off Floyd’s neck when an ambulance arrives and Floyd is loaded onto a stretcher.
According to the medical examiner, Floyd was pronounced dead at 9:25 p.m. on Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Washington Post Releases Security Footage
From the video, it is evident that there are several jarring discrepancies between the official account of the police and what actually happened.
The MPD statement said that Floyd “appeared to be suffering medical distress.” It does not say anything about whether the “medical distress” was caused or worsened by a police officer putting his knee on Floyd’s throat for around eight minutes.
In fact, the statement says nothing at all about the officers restraining Floyd other than that they eventually managed to get him into handcuffs.
On Tuesday evening, the Washington Post published security footage provided by the owner of a nearby restaurant that appears to contradict the claim that Floyd resisted arrest, at least at the beginning of his encounter with the police.
The footage shows two officers walking up to a car. Two people seemingly sitting in the passenger seat and the back seat get out and go stand on the sidewalk. Shortly after that, the officers removed Floyd from a car handcuffed.
An officer then walks him to the sidewalk and sits him down against a wall. There is no audio, so it is unclear what Floyd is saying, but he does not appear, at least physically, to be resisting arrest.
Another police car pulls up, and after a few minutes, the officers walk Floyd across the street and open a door on a police car before the footage cuts out.
Officers Fired and Official Response
Just hours after Frazier’s video started to spread Tuesday morning, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced on Twitter that all four officers involved in the event had been fired.
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” Frey said in a later statement. “What we saw is horrible. Completely and utterly messed up.”
“The man’s life matters. He matters. He was someone son. Someone’s family member. Someone’s friend,” Frey continued. “He was a human being and his life mattered.”
Around the same time, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension said in a statement that the F.B.I. was conducting a federal civil rights investigation into, and that the state bureau was also conducting its own investigation at the request of MPD.
In a separate statement, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said that it was helping with the investigation.
“At the end of the investigation, the findings will be presented to our office for consideration of prosecution,” the statement added.
Response From Floyd’s Family and Lawyer
While the firing of the four officers was widely applauded, many called for them to be charged and arrested.
Floyd’s family and their attorney have also demanded that more be done to the officers.
“They need to be charged with murder because what they did was murder,” Floyd’s cousin Tera Brown told CNN on Tuesday night. “And almost the whole world has witnessed that because somebody was gracious enough to record it… They need to pay for what they did.”
“I feel those guys need to be put in jail,” George Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd told ABC. “They murdered my brother.”
Ben Crump, the lawyer representing Floyd’s family, also asked the public to call the District Attorney and demand the officers be arrested and charged.
Crump, notable, is also representing the family of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black jogger who was shot and killed in Georgia in February.
As of writing, none of the four officers involved in Floyd’s death have been taken into custody.
Response on Social Media
In addition to Floyd’s family, thousands of people chimed in on social media to express their outrage over the wrongful death.
“The lack of humanity in this disturbing video is sickening,” Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz tweeted. “We will get answers and seek justice.”
“It is sickening to watch this black man be killed while helplessly begging for help,” wrote Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who represents Minneapolis and it’s surrounding areas.
“Black lives matter isn’t just a chant, it’s call for justice. It’s a call for our humanity to be recognized. This must stop. There needs to be an immediate DOJ investigation into this.”
Numerous people also drew comparisons between the deaths of Floyd and Eric Garner, the young black man who died in New York police custody in 2014 after a white officer put him in a chokehold and Garner, who was also filmed on a cellphone, repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.”
Many social media users also shared a photo of Colin Kaepernick, the NFL player who kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality, alongside a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
The picture was shared by several prominent athletes, including basketball legend LeBron James.
Former NFL wide receiver Nathan Palmer also shared the photo in a tweet.
“So…don’t ask why he took a knee…they’re still killing BLACK MEN and getting away with this sh*t! I don’t condone starting a war but I think it’s clear what we need to start doing yo…” he wrote.
Kaepernick himself shared Palmer’s Tweet on his Instagram story.
Protests Break Out
While countless people took to social media, hundreds more took to the streets of Minneapolis on Tuesday afternoon and evening to protest.
The protests started out peacefully, with demonstrators meeting at the intersection where Floyd was killed chanting “I can’t breathe!” and “No justice, no peace!”
Around 6 p.m., the crowd moved to the 3rd Police Precinct where the protesters reportedly believed the officers involved were based.
When they arrived things quickly escalated. Several media outlets and the police claimed that a small group of people began to vandalize the precinct and were quickly followed by others.
That prompted the police to show up in riot gear to fire tear gas and flash grenades into the crowds to disperse them. The confrontation went on late into the evening before the protestors dispersed due to a rainstorm.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (USA Today) (PBS News Hour)
Donald Trump and Eldest Three Children Hit With Fraud Lawsuit From New York AG
AG Letitia James says that the former president “falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself.”
Lawsuit Filed Against Trump
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced on Wednesday that she filed a civil lawsuit against former president Donald Trump and his three eldest children over allegations that they fraudulently inflated asset valuations within the Trump Organization.
Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Ivanka Trump are all listed alongside their father in the lawsuit. Executives Jeffrey McConney and Allen Weisselberg, the latter of whom recently pled guilty to tax crimes, are also listed alongside other Trump businesses.
“Donald Trump, with the help of his children…and senior executives at the Trump Organization, falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to induce banks to lend money to the Trump Organization on more favorable terms than would otherwise have been available to the company, to satisfy continuing loan covenants, to induce insurers to provide insurance coverage for higher limits and at lower premiums, and to gain tax benefits, among other things,” a press release announcing the lawsuit claimed.
The Attorney General’s office claims that between 2011 and 2021, Trump and the Trump Organization made 200 false and misleading claims about asset values on annual financial statements.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in a State Supreme Court in Manhattan.
“The complaint demonstrates that Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself and to cheat the system, thereby cheating all of us,” James said while announcing the complaint.
Her office is seeking to permanently ban Trump and his children from serving as an officer or director in any New York corporation and to bar Trump and his organization from entering into any New York real estate acquisitions for five years. The office is also seeking to recover $250 million in penalty payments, among other forms of relief.
The Office of the Attorney General has also referred the matter to the federal attorneys in New York and to the IRS for criminal investigation.
“There aren’t two sets of laws for people in this nation: former presidents must be held to the same standards as everyday Americans,” James added in a statement on social media.
“Trump’s crimes are not victimless,” she continued. “When the well-connected and powerful break the law to get more money than they are entitled to, it reduces resources available to working people, small businesses, and taxpayers.”
Trump Allegedly Inflated Key Assets
According to James’ release, Trump “made known through Mr. Weisselberg that he wanted his net worth on his statements to increase every year.”
“And the statements were the vehicle by which his net worth was fraudulently inflated by billions of dollars year after year,” the release continued.
Among the assets Trump and his organization allegedly inflated was the Trump Tower Triplex, an apartment Trump allegedly claimed was 30,000 square feet when it is just around 11,000 square feet. Because of its ballooned size, the property was valued at $327 million in 2015, roughly three times as much as the sole apartment in New York City to ever sell for over $100 million at the time.
For further comparison, the highest sale for a listing in Trump Tower at the time was only $16 million.
Trump also allegedly claimed Mar-a-Lago was valued as high as $739 million based on the “false premise” that the property could be developed and sold for residential use. The lawsuit claims that Trump actually signed deeds donating those rights, limiting the property’s use to a social club. James and her office claim its value would fall closer to $75 million.
Inflated Clauations Cannot Be “Excused”
“The inflated asset valuations in the Statements cannot be brushed aside or excused as merely the result of exaggeration or good faith estimation about which reasonable real estate professionals may differ,” the lawsuit states, adding that instead, they are the result of improper methodology intentionally meant to falsely boost Trump’s net worth.
The investigation into Trump’s alleged fraud began nearly three years ago, and the former president has repeatedly called it a politically motivated witch hunt. His attorney, Alina Habba, doubled down on that rhetoric in a statement Wednesday.
“Today’s filing is neither focused on the facts nor the law – rather, it is solely focused on advancing the Attorney General’s political agenda,” Habba said. “We are confident that our judicial system will not stand for this unchecked abuse of authority, and we look forward to defending our client against each and every one of the Attorney General’s meritless claims.”
For his part, Trump has blasted the lawsuit on Truth Social, calling James a “fraud” and a “crime-fighting disaster.”
Trump previously tried to impede the probe but was ultimately ordered by a judge to sit for a deposition and turn over subpoenaed documents. Reports say he pled the fifth hundreds of times during his deposition.
See what others are saying: (Bloomberg) (The Washington Post) (Reuters)
Hurricane Fiona Causes “Catastrophic” Damage in Puerto Rico, Leaving Many Without Power
While power has been restored to some, more than a million remain without it as continued rainfall, flooding, and landslides are expected to cause further damage across the island.
Hurricane Fiona Wreaks Havoc
Hurricane Fiona made landfall in Puerto Rico Sunday, bringing heavy rains, flooding, and landslides, while also knocking out power for the entire island and killing at least one person.
Photos and videos posted on social media show floodwaters consuming major streets and engulfing cars. Some pictures show an entire bridge flooded, making it impassible. Other footage shows a different bridge entirely uprooted and a metal barrier ripped away from the road and floating down a river of floodwater.
Officials have said conditions are still too dangerous to fully evaluate the extent of the crisis. In remarks to the public, Puerto Rico’s governor, Pedro Pierluisi, described the damage as “catastrophic.”
He asserted that the storm has been one of the most significant since Hurricane Maria — which hit the island almost exactly 5 years ago to the day — killing more than 3,000 people, leaving many without power for months, and causing destruction that the island is still recovering from.
Pierluisi noted that Puerto Rico has received over 30 inches of rain and that some areas have even gotten more rain than during Hurricane Maria. As of Monday afternoon, the National Gaurd has led 30 rescue operations so far, saving more than 1,000 stranded residents in 25 municipalities, according to the governor.
Pierluisi also added that more than 2,000 people were in the island’s 128 shelters, with officials further saying there is plenty of shelter space for those who need it. On Sunday, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration for Puerto Rico, which will allow federal agencies to coordinate disaster relief.
Continued Issues As Storm Rages On
Meanwhile, Puerto Rico’s water authority has confirmed that just over 70% of the island is still without water. According to poweroutage.us, more than 1.3 million customers were still without power as of Monday morning.
The power company LUMA also stated that electricity had been restored to around 100,000 customers over the course of Sunday night, though it previously warned that the full restoration of power could take several days as the storm has created “incredibly challenging” conditions.
While Hurricane Fiona has passed through Puerto Rico, having now made landfall in the Dominican Republic, officials and experts say that heavy rains and further flooding are still to be expected for the next few days.
The National Weather Service has warned that “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding” as well as mudslides and landslides are expected to continue across the island. As a result, Pierluisi has urged Puerto Ricans Monday to remain home and in shelters so that officials can continue to respond to others in need.
He also noted that the areas most impacted by the hurricane include the southern part of the island, the southwest, and the mountains.
After moving through the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Fiona is expected to head towards Turks and Caicos Tuesday. The National Hurricane Center has said that the storm will continue to grow and by Wednesday, it is set to become a major hurricane — which means a Category 3 or higher.
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (CNN)
Government Aid Cut Child Poverty in Half During Pandemic, Data Shows
The reduction occurred similarly across geography, race, family type, and citizenship status.
Largest Drop in Half a Century
The United States’s child poverty rate sank to the lowest level on record last year, primarily thanks to pandemic relief measures and other government programs, according to an analysis of census data released Tuesday.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzed data from the Census Bureau’s supplementary poverty measure, which accounts for safety net programs and tax credits as well as regional differences in the cost of living.
From around 11% in 2019, the percentage of kids living below the poverty line fell to 9.7% in 2020 and 5.2% the year after that.
In just two years, nearly 5.5 million kids were lifted from poverty, marking an almost 60% drop in the child poverty rate.
The Center’s researchers gave most credit to the federal government’s numerous interventions in the economy, from stimulus payments and the expanded child tax credit to eviction moratoriums and expanded unemployment insurance.
Without government intervention, poverty in 2020 would have experienced its second-largest recorded increase, the Center claimed, but instead, it underwent the largest single-year decline in over half a century.
Especially impactful was the expanded child tax credit, which sent up to $300 per child to households with children every month between July and December 2021.
According to the analysis, this policy alone pulled nearly three million kids out of poverty.
But the tax credit’s expansion expired at the end of the year despite Democrats’ efforts to prolong it with Biden’s signature Build Back Better bill, which was blocked by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), who reportedly told colleagues he was concerned that families might use the payments to buy drugs.
Poverty Before COVID
Child poverty has fallen by 59% since 1993, when it sat at around 28%, according to another analysis published Sunday by The New York Times and the nonpartisan group Child Trends.
They found that the decline occurred across all 50 states and D.C., as well as in different levels of poverty.
It similarly affected nearly all subgroups of children, — white, Black, Asian and Hispanic, single-parent and two-parent, immigrant and non-immigrant.
The causes driving the pre-pandemic decline included general economic improvement — low unemployment, a higher labor force participation rate among single mothers, and growing state minimum wages — but the researchers pinned government welfare programs as the dominant factor.
They specifically mentioned the earned income tax credit, social security, unemployment insurance, and nutrition and housing assistance.
Despite the positive trend, more than eight million children still live below the poverty line, and that number excludes those who live just above it but still struggle to meet basic needs.
The current poverty line sits around $29,000 for a family of four in a location with typical living costs.
Moreover, disparities still persist, with Black and Latino children about three times as likely as their white peers to be poor.