George Floyd’s death: Protests and pain from the East Coast to the West

Demonstrators gathered in Tallahassee near the Florida capitol on May 31, 2020, to protest the police killing of George Floyd. Credit: Peter T. Reinwald

From the state capital in Tallahassee to Tampa, Miami, and other Florida cities, protests and demonstrations escalated Saturday over the death of George Floyd, the unarmed black man restrained on the ground as a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Elsewhere, the protests stretched from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta to Los Angeles, starting out peacefully but also fueled by fires and destruction, leading to curfews and arrests, according to myriad news accounts.

The National Guard was deployed in several states on Saturday, though Florida did not appear to be one of them. However, on Sunday, the governor’s communications staffer tweeted that DeSantis had activated the National Guard on Saturday, saying, “Currently there are 150 guardsmen in Miramar, 150 in Camp Blanding & 100 arrived in Tampa. These specially trained units support law enforcement in many ways i.e. traffic & crowd control, all to preserve the peace & public safety.”

U.S. Rep. Val Demings (D-FL) Photo by Shawn Thew – Pool/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Orlando Congresswoman Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief, told Meet the Press/NBC News that she commends the Minneapolis police chief for firing the officer who put his knee on Floyd’s neck. The dismissal helped pursue criminal charges against the officer.

“We’re waiting to see others,” Demings said.

She added: “And while I know that our government does not have direct jurisdiction, I certainly believe that we do have a major role to play in terms of helping law enforcement agencies throughout the nation maybe come up with some standards for hiring and training, especially use of force training.”

Demings, who is black, also discussed the issues of race and President Donald Trump.

“Racism in America and the injustices that come with it is nothing new. And so we have to get serious about number one, admitting there is an issue and number two, working together and… it certainly would help if we had leadership at the top. If there was ever a time we need leadership in the White House, it is now, to help heal our nation, but I don’t know why I would expect this president to do something that he has never done before and we have never seen before.”

As to Trump, Demings said, “I would tell him to begin with showing some compassion for the persons who — the families that have lost their loved ones. Let’s start there. And then continue to talk about America is great and wonderful because of the beautiful diversity that we have in this country, that we are a nation of immigrants.

“We’re a nation of laws, but we’re a nation of immigrants, and we have to work together. And let’s look at our history. This country has already solved some of the toughest issues because we have been able to come together and work together. We can do that now…”

“And maybe we begin today by acknowledging the sins of the past and even said things that he has said and done that caused harm and brought pain to the American people.”

 

Diane Rado
Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.