George Floyd Uprising in Minneapolis–Saint Paul — The First Two Weeks

Minneapolis, MN – Waves of rage tore through the Twin Cities community after a video of Minneapolis police officers mercilessly killing George Floyd went viral. Fires were lit across the world as a new movement spread rapidly with the goal of dismantling the police and all other racist institutions.

Floyd, a 46-year-old father of five and security guard, was targeted for arrest under suspicion of passing a bad $20 bill at a South Minneapolis corner store on Memorial Day. After Floyd was beaten by police, veteran officer Derek Chauvin then kneeled on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, killing Floyd. Chauvin was assisted by Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao.

Floyd was pronounced dead in the hospital hours later; an independent autopsy would later list his cause of death as asphyxiation. (The county coroner’s initial inaccurate autopsy seemed to match up with police attempts to whitewash the murder.)

Multiple witnesses filmed the killing of Floyd, whose last words can be heard in Darnella Frazier’s video as he pleaded for his life and called for his mother (who had died two years prior on the same day).

Since the beginning of the uprising, Unicorn Riot has provided dozens of hours of live streams and coverage documenting the first two weeks after Floyd’s death in the Twin Cities.

Below is a snapshot of the series of events that took place in those two weeks, detailed in chronological order. We preface this summary report by saying it only contains portions of our own original reporting from the first two weeks following Floyd’s death; much more happened during this time period that we did not report on. (Click here to navigate to specific days.)

image: photo of large George Floyd mural shows a portrait of Floyd, with his name George on the left and Floyd on the right of his image. A huge sunflower is behind all of this. Painted in the center of the sunflower are many other names lost to police violence.
Vigil site at 38th & Chicago, the location of Floyd’s death. Photo taken on May 31. Mural by Good Space Murals

Day 1: Tuesday, May 26

As the video of Floyd’s killing spread on the internet, community members gathered at the intersection of 38th Street & Chicago Avenue, where Floyd took his last breaths. Outside of Cup Foods, the business whose call to the police led to Floyd’s death, a vigil site bloomed where the community placed messages of remembrance, grief, calls for justice, and apology.

During the day, in a historic move, MPD chief Medaria Arradondo fired of all four officers involved — Chauvin, Thao, Lane, and Kueng — from their jobs at the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).image: hundreds of protesters stand at the intersection of 38th St. & Chicago Ave. in Minneapolis. Everyone is wearing a cloth or paper face mask. In the background is the store front CUP FOODS, in the foreground is a sign with a black-and-white photograph of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in front of the police vehicle; a screenshot from the viral video that shows Floyd's death. The word MURDERER is written above the photograph.

Hundreds stand at the intersection of 38th & Chicago. A sign reading ‘murderer’ shows a black-and-white screenshot of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.After a 5 p.m. rally, thousands marched from 38th Street to MPD’s 3rd Precinct station at the intersection of Lake Street & Minnehaha Avenue, where the officers who killed George Floyd had worked. Most of the demonstrators wore face masks to protect against the spread of the ongoing COVID–19 pandemic.

Unicorn Riot was streaming live from the march:

Day 1 – Part 1 – LIVE

After arriving at the precinct, the crowd surrounded the building. Protesters waved signs while some others used their fists to beat on the bulletproof glass of the doors; others tried to come in between them and the building to protect it.

As the crowd grew, the anger in the air was palpable and pacifists lost control of policing the crowd.

Landscaping fencing was torn up, some of it thrown at the precinct building. Water bottles and rocks were thrown at the building along with eggs.

Image: the side entrance to the Minneapolis Police Department uses bullet-proof glass in the windows and door, which are each showing several fractures from having objects thrown at them from protesters. 'MPD 3rd Precinct, Public Entrance on Minnehaha Ave.' is written in gold stencils on the door.
Side entrance to the MPD 3rd Precinct building on Lake & Minnehaha

A few angry messages were then spray-painted onto the building. People from the march continued trickling into the area from the exit ramp off Hiawatha Avenue southwest of the intersection.

We continued streaming live from the ground. The 35-minute mark in the video below shows when the protest reached the 3rd Precinct:

Day 1 – Part 2 – LIVE

As it began to rain, an MPD cruiser parked in the south alleyway was surrounded and smashed by angry protesters. Some were disturbed this action would bring the ire of police and asked others to stop, but many others happily cheered the spectacle.

Minutes later, somebody opened the gates to the parking lot where the 3rd Precinct’s fleet of vehicles were kept, leading to many police cruisers sustaining heavy damage. As this was happening, more projectiles, including a milkshake, were thrown at the doors and windows of the precinct.

MPD police in riot gear quickly arrived to the scene. They announced their presence by throwing concussion grenades in the direction of the crowd, coming north and west through the alley.

MPD used copious amounts of tear gas to clear protesters from the area; youths threw a few canisters back at police.

No one heard any orders to disperse from the Minneapolis police before or during these volleys of less-lethal weapons used against protesters, some of whom were clearly not expecting the violent escalation of the situation.

Protective masks worn by protesters to prevent against COVID–19 had to be removed temporarily in order to fight off the effects of the tear gas, which inflicts coughing and heavy mucus production in addition to causing burning of the eyes and face area.

Deploying respiratory irritants during the coronavirus pandemic has proved extremely dangerous. A 22-year-old died from tear gas exposure in Ohio on May 28, 2020, and freelance journalist Linda Tirado was permanently blinded in the left eye after being shot in the face by law enforcement with a less-lethal round while reporting in Minneapolis.

MPD used concussion grenades, 40mm marker rounds, tear gas, triple chasers, and other less-lethal munitions against protesters. (These weapons are part of a national ‘field force’ policing doctrine instilled by FEMA.) Many people were pushed back but were not totally dispersed from the area, despite the chemical weapons and the rain.

The standoff against police continued all through the night with police shooting less-lethal projectiles across Lake Street at protesters gathered in the Target parking lot and in front of the precinct.

Destruction of buildings and taking of goods from nearby businesses like Minnehaha Lake Liquors unfolded that night. In response, MPD officers in SWAT formation violently arrested a person who had ventured into the liquor store.

Day 1 – Part 3 – LIVE

As heavy rain poured, the crowd’s fighting activity dampened and a lot of people filtered out of the area. Yet, throughout the night, crowds still gathered in the area.

Earlier in the day, immediate backlash within educational institutions commenced. Jael Kerandi, the University of Minnesota’s undergraduate student body president and a young Black woman, collected over 2,000 signatures on a letter demandingthat the University of Minnesota Police Department ceases any partnerships with the Minneapolis Police Department immediately.

The letter was signed by Kerandi, along with dozens of Minnesota Student Association leaders and hundreds of students; it was organized and presented within 24 hours to the office of the U of MN President.

Day 2: Wednesday, May 27

In a significant development, the University of Minnesota announced that the college would no longer contract with MPD for support during large events or for explosives detection, though they would still be participating in joint patrols and investigations.

The rebellion outside the precinct continued into the early hours of the morning and throughout the second day. The geography of the area, with the precinct across the street from large parking lots, played into the hands of the crowd that used it as an organizing space.

Some of the goods taken from inside Target, Cub Foods, Aldi, and Dollar Tree were brought to the front line conflict zone at the 3rd Precinct and helped to fuel the growing crowd.

In the evening, police continued protecting the precinct from the growing crowd of thousands. We were reporting live from the intersection as we witnessed a person in the crowd get severely injured by projectiles shot from the MPD:

Day 2 – Part 1 – LIVE

Through the night, the police again deployed heavy amounts of tear gas and less-lethal munitions such as flash bangs (concussion grenades) and marker rounds against the crowd.

Both the AutoZone and Wendy’s chain businesses across the street from the 3rd Precinct were tagged with anti-police graffiti, set on fire, and generally subjected to destruction. Other storefronts such as the pawn shop on Lake Street were smashed and their goods taken.

Day 2 – Part 2 – LIVE

Throughout that night, the parking lot of the Minnehaha Mall (across from the 3rd Precinct) was a meeting ground where the constant soundtrack of Lil Boosie’s ‘Fuck the Police’ played amidst car show-style burnouts and volleys of gunshots, some in the form of 21-gun-salutes to George Floyd.

A night-time protest event page asked participants to bring protective materials, including buckets of water with which to submerge and neutralize canisters of tear gas, a tactic learned from Hong Kong protests.

We interviewed community members about their thoughts on what was happening and why such a strong reaction was evinced from the crowd. “I don’t know how the MPD’s gonna fix this, but they brought this upon themselves,” remarked one community member.

Day 2 – Part 3 – LIVE

Day 2 – Part 4 – LIVE

A large condo building near Wendy’s that was under construction was also set on fire as the crowd was forced to back up from the sheer heat of the blaze.

As several buildings burned in the hours past midnight, one long volley of gunshots from the Target parking lot area sent the officers that were in front of the precinct scattering and hiding below the concrete barricades that were in front of the building. Those were some of the last times the police were manning the front of the precinct.

Day 2 – Part 5 – LIVE

As the sun arose the next morning we heard from Daniel Davenport, the Chairman of the Georgia National Association for Equal Justice in America about his work and police accountability.

Day 3: Thursday, May 28

By the next day, the raging attacks against corporate stores and seemingly any window in sight had spread west down Lake Street as well as east across the Mississippi River to the Midway area of Saint Paul, near Snelling and University Avenues.

The third day of protests featured an even more intense wave of continued attacks by the community. The crowd intensified its onslaught against the precinct, throwing projectiles and fireworks, shining lasers at police and shooting guns in the air from the parking lot, while others passively kneeling with their hands up.

Dozens of people injured by police munitions and tear gas received treatment from groups of street medics that had swiftly become a community mainstay.

Hard barricades of cars, metal trash bins, rebar, concrete, and wood were set up in multiple places, even more numerous than in days before. Some were set aflame.

MPD continued to defend the beleaguered 3rd Precinct until they were ultimately ordered to retreat, abandoning the building. Officers jumped into transport vehicles and had to smash through their own closed and locked gate — power on the block was out from the fires, thus the electrically powered gate wouldn’t open. They drove away, shooting at the crowd with munitions as they retreated.

The building was swiftly taken over by the people, who spray-painted anti-police messages and seized items from inside before setting several fires throughout the building as well as outside the front entrance.

We streamed live from inside the precinct just after it had been raided:

Day 3 – Part 1 – LIVE

Thousands of people watched the precinct catch flames, calling out George Floyd’s name together and chanting “I can’t breathe” as fires burned in all directions.

Corporate businesses near the 3rd Precinct continued to be targeted for destruction. After a stolen USPS vehicle was used to attempt to ram through the barriers in front of the 3rd Precinct, it was set on fire alongside another already burning in the street. A third van burned one block east.

Businesses such as a Metro PCS and a local pawn shop had been set ablaze east of the precinct on Lake Street; the Arby’s west of the precinct would also be completely incinerated.

POC-owned organizations and businesses such as Migizi Communications, an Indigenous youth empowerment non-profit, were initially spared the first three days. Migizi, along with Indian restaurant Gandhi Mahal and Black-owned restaurant Addis Ababa, would all suffer destruction as unrest continued to mount.

As we streamed from fires near 22nd Avenue and Lake Street, we heard from Kim Handy-Jones, whose son Cordale Handy was killed by Saint Paul Police in 2017. Among many things, Jones spoke about not being able to get George Floyd’s life back, whereas property can always be replaced.

Day 3 – Part 2 – LIVE

 

Day 3 – Part 3 – LIVE

Day 4: Friday, May 29

Though countless Black bodies have been killed by white officers in Minnesota, May 29, 2020, was the first time a white officer was charged with murder of a Black man in Minnesota.

Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder, which means a murder was unintentional yet the accused was doing something ‘without regard for human life.’ Chauvin was also charged with second-degree manslaughter. (Chauvin’s charges were upgraded to second-degree murder on June 3.)

These charges are identical to those filed in the case of Mohamed Noor, a Somali MPD officer who fatally shot Justine Damond, a white woman in an affluent neighborhood, after Damond called 911 in 2017. Noor was convicted by jury trial in April 2019 of both charges and sentenced to 12.5 years in prison. Damond’s family received $20 million in a taxpayer-funded settlement.

George Floyd’s family made it known that they wanted Chauvin charged with first-degree murder. Both Floyd and Chauvin worked at the same night club and knew each other; a first-degree murder charge requires the prosecution to demonstrate premeditated plans to kill.

Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker’s report revealed evidence of almost two dozen bruises and scratches on multiple areas of Floyd’s body. The autopsy had been performed on May 26, but the results were not released to the public until three days later.

One attorney observed to Unicorn Riot that Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman could have ordered Chauvin held on probable cause days before the murder charge was filed, but he declined to do so.

After three days of property destruction and uprising in Minneapolis, Mayor Jacob Frey issued Emergency Regulation 2020-2-1 to impose a curfew in the city. Saint Paul Mayor Melvin Carter III followed suit shortly thereafter in the other of the Twin Cities.

Governor Tim Walz also signed Executive Order 20-65 which ordered the Twin Cities curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, prohibiting all travel “on any public street or in any public place.Other cities chose to instate curfews as well.

Those exempt from the order included unhoused people or people going to/from work, police and first responders, “individuals seeking emergency care or fleeing danger,” and members of the media. Anyone else found guilty of violating the curfew would face a fine up to $1,000 or up to 90 days in jail.

All Minnesotans in Minneapolis and Saint Paul are urged to voluntarily comply. Peace officers will enforce the curfew and arrest those who refuse to comply.” — Governor Walz, Executive Order 20-65

That evening, curfew alerts blared on residents’ mobile phones, conjuring humorous reactions at multiple protest sites where people were gathered.

After volleys of tear gas and less-lethal munitions in the early evening, the police left Lake Street, allowing a march of thousands to go from the 3rd Precinct to the 5th Precinct police station.

While documenting the march we came across store owners at 17th and Lake protecting their business while supporting George Floyd.

Car fires were started as the end of the march neared the 5th Precinct. Masses gathered at 31st Street and Nicollet Avenue and a megaphone was used for the first time in many days. Controlled by a crew from Chicago, the megaphone briefly had people’s attention enough to stop the property destruction, until the police shot at people from on top of the fortified precinct.

As the police attacked, the post office, gas station and other stores were wrecked while the nearby Wells Fargo bank was set ablaze along with a vehicle in the driveway.

We streamed live for several hours:

Day 4 – Part 1 – LIVE

Hundreds of National Guard soldiers mobilized by Governor Walz arrived that day in the Twin Cities to assist firefighters. Unicorn Riot was reporting from the Lyndale neighborhood as dozens of riot police entered the area of 31st Street and Blaisdell Avenue, forcing people away from the burning bank using tear gas, concussion grenades, and small rubber pellets aimed against the crowd.


Officers also directed some fire in the direction of our media team. We were streaming live for much of this interaction:

Day 4 – Part 2 – LIVE

State police forces cleared the streets throughout the night with little regard for the community living on the block. Multiple people were faced with an abrasively shouted command to “go inside or go to jail“, whether they were homeowners or people protecting their place of residence.

Several instances were recorded where police were shooting marker rounds and other munitions at people on their own porches and even shooting at people through their doors.

Day 4 – Part 3 – LIVE

As Unicorn Riot was interviewing business owner Louis Hunter about his choice to stay in Uptown to guard his restaurant, Trio Plant-Based, both Hunter and our reporting team were forced back into Hunter’s business by a line of SWAT police and State Troopers.

When Unicorn Riot identified themselves as press, state police in riot gear replied, “inside or you’re going to jail.

That night we spoke with Marcos, the owner of Habanero Tacos Grill, which is on East Lake about 30 blocks from Trio. He and his friends who were protecting his restaurant said they hoped for justice for George and expressed they were coming “together as one.

Burning barricades filled the skyline throughout the night. Dozens of stolen cars were crashed or lit aflame across the city as crowds attempted to break into every ATM available. No police were seen on duty, as was the same for the nights prior. A growing number of people armed were seen protecting the Division of Indian Work and other such buildings.

Meanwhile, the vigil site at 38th Street continued to grow, with hundreds of messages, pieces of artwork, and flowers left in memory of George Floyd.

Day 5: Saturday, May 30

Saturday featured many neighborhood meetings that organized active street blockades all throughout many areas in North and South Minneapolis, Cedar-Riverside, East and West St. Paul and beyond. Those that were already protecting their property from the destruction, arson, and paranoia of white supremacist attacks the days before were further emboldened to protect their property.

Many thousands of National Guard were now stationed in the metro area. Rumors of “lethal force” having been authorized by Governor Walz swirled throughout the community.

Unicorn Riot published newly-released footage taken minutes before Floyd’s death while he was in a squad car. In the video, Chauvin, Lane, and Kueng lean in and appear to violently punch and hit Floyd from both sides of the vehicle while Thao observes.

The Nation published quotes from an anonymous National Guard member who said that soldiers in all ranks “are scared about hurting someone, and leaders are worried about soldiers’ suffering liability.

Many again defied the 8 p.m. – 6 a.m. curfew to protest in the streets.

We streamed for about an hour and a half from the Lyndale neighborhood of Minneapolis Saturday night.

Day 5 – Uptown Minneapolis – LIVE

One of the people we interviewed live said that after getting out in the streets and witnessing the violent treatment of the people by law enforcement officers, he understood why the precinct had been attacked.

Now that I get out and see what’s going on, I realize why the 3rd Precinct was burned down.

It wasn’t burnt down because the people were mad at the police; it was burnt down because the police were mad at the people.” — Interview on May 30, 2020

We heard from street medics who revealed that police had attacked their first aid station. Though the curfew exempted first responders, street medics — trained volunteers who provide immediate first-aid care to injured protesters through being on-site with medical supplies — seemed to be delegitimized as regular protesters by the state.

State Patrol troopers slashed the tires of numerous parked cars. Our reporter on the ground witnessed a few people get arrested while standing in their front yard, and there are other examples of residents of Minneapolis being shot with marker rounds while on their own property.

Minneapolis police accused our reporter on the ground of being a “problem” as he filmed them near the 5th Precinct.

Though exempt from curfew, dozens of reporters were assaulted and/or arrested by several different factions of law enforcement officers throughout the Twin Cities on Saturday night while attempting to document police interaction with crowds of people seeking justice for George Floyd.

Day 6: Sunday, May 31

After thousands of police and military personnel ruthlessly enforced the curfew the night before, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-68, extending the curfew in the Twin Cities for another night between the hours of 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Walz also announced that Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison would be the lead prosecutor on the case of Floyd’s killing, teaming with Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman.

About an hour before Walz’ announcement, a massive march that rallied earlier at U.S. Bank Stadium spilled onto Interstate 35-W in the evening time. While the crowd of over 10,000 people took space on I-35W and remembered George Floyd, a 16-wheeler tanker truck drove into the crowd at a high speed. No protesters were physically injured in the incident but many will deal with the lasting affects of the traumatizing moments.

Police responded to the melee that resulted by macing the crowd and detaining the white driver Bogdan Vechirko, opting to put him in a squad car with no restraints on his wrists. Hennepin County would later release the driver without filing charges.

Unicorn Riot was at the vigil site at 38th & Chicago for much of the day. From there, we live streamed for over seven hours.

Day 6 – 38th & Chicago, Part 1 – LIVE

Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo along with Deputy Chief Knight came to the George Floyd memorial site to pay their respects and be with the community.

We heard from Arradondo about the George Floyd murder and changing the culture of the Minneapolis Police Department. He was also asked by a community member if he was willing to work with the community to get “what’s fair and what’s just.

In response to us asking Knight to respond to how the police were treating press he stated that press should be able to document, saying, “press have the right to be there, to be transparent” and said to other officers, “if you’re not trying to hide anything, why don’t you want the press there?

As Sunday turned to Monday we streamed live from the vigil site. Protesters had set up barricades in the road to protect the sacred space of the intersection of 38th and Chicago.

An incident near the space — a white person from the neighborhood, known to and friends with others, had been perceived as attempting to break into the gas station — sparked a physical altercation, agitated by the paranoia over white supremacists targeting Black spaces.

Other community members broke up the fights by screaming “I can’t breathe,” with one spraying a fire extinguisher in the air.

Day 6 – Part 2 – LIVE

Immediately after the commotion, the crowd circled up around the vigil site and had some candid and open conversations, from being a Black man to being Black and transgender.

Day 6 – Part 3 – LIVE

After the earlier semi truck incident, community members were extra cautious about the threat posed by motorists, keeping in communication about suspicious vehicles with others maintaining a watch around the neighborhood.

Though the curfew was in effect in Minneapolis, the George Floyd vigil site remained a sacred space not infringed upon by the state’s forces since one sweep during the first couple days.

Day 7: Monday, June 1

One week after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Unicorn Riot recorded a gathering of community members who shared stories about dealing with their loved one having been killed by police.

In front of the Governor’s Residence in Saint Paul, the 2 p.m. speaking event was organized by Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.

Day 7 – Families of Police Terror Speak Out – LIVE

Speakers included Toshira Garraway, whose fiancé Justin Teigen was found dead over ten years ago after an encounter with Saint Paul Police Department officers (SPPD); Matilda Smith, whose son Jaffort Smith was killed in 2016 by SPPD; family members of Jamar Clark, killed in 2015 by Minneapolis police; and family members of Brian Quiñones Rosario, killed in 2019 by Minnesota police.

Other families represented were Kobe Heisler, Paul Castaway, Dontaylo “Chicken-Wing” Wright, Billy Hughes, Phil Quinn, Demetrius Hill, and George Floyd.

At 4 p.m., a ‘Jail All 4 Killer Cops NOW!‘ event at the same location brought in thousands more protesters screaming Black Lives Matter.

Day 7 – ‘Jail All 4 Killer Cops NOW!’ – LIVE

More families of victims of local police terror were there to represent their lost loved ones: Marcus Golden, Isak Aden, Hardel Sherrell, and Cordale Handy.

At times the crowd called for the arrest of all of the former officers involved in the death of George Floyd, chanting “All Four.

Walz and his wife Gwen emerged from the mansion wearing masks to protect against coronavirus transmission.

Unicorn Riot has been reporting from protests outside Walz’ residence for the past two months, and this is the first time he has emerged from the mansion to listen to those gathered.

Governor Tim Walz and his spose Gwen listen as Nekima Levy Armstrong speaks at a Justice For Floyd 'Jail Killer Cops' event in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The protest took place outside the governor's residence. Walz is standing beside a protester holding a "Justice For Floyd" sign.
Governor Walz [center-left] listens to speakers while standing beside someone holding a #JusticeForFloyd protest sign
One person who spoke was Trahern Crews, the uncle of Hardel Sherrell, a 27-year-old who died after days of severe medical neglect in the Beltrami County Jail in 2018. Multiple corrections officers and medical professionals accused Sherrell of “faking.

The protest on Summit Avenue was called to a close early out of concern for attendees; rumors of violent white nationalists in the area had been circulating after a semi truck drove through a crowd of protesters the day prior.

We interviewed Gabriel, Paul Castaway‘s brother, live in front of the Governor’s Residence and asked him about the American flags he’d been carrying. Names of Indigenous people who had died due to encounters with the police were written on each flag.

In the evening we published an interview from the day prior, where a protester explained their thoughts on citizenship and the fight against Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE), infamous for its targeting of undocumented workers for deportation.

Curfew hours were again in effect in both Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Governor Walz had signed Executive Order 20-69 earlier in the day, effecting curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Monday and the following day, four hours shorter than previous days of curfew.

Websites for both the MPD and the city of Minneapolis showed signs of electronic attacks. Days earlier, the amorphous hacker collective Anonymous had vowed retaliation for the death of George Floyd.

Day 8: Tuesday, June 2

In the continuing spate of reported computer intrusions, Minnesota Senate officials claimed that something called ‘the Passwords File‘ got accessed by malicious actors.

Thousands of youths rallied on the mall of the Minnesota Capitol for #SitToBreathe, a seated Black Lives Matter rally.

We live streamed the rally and posted live to social media:

Day 8 – #SitToBreathe Rally – LIVE

National Guard soldiers and humvees blocked intersections to the area. M1117 Armored Security Vehicles continued their ominous placement behind a temporary chain-link fence at the bottom of the steps to the Saint Paul Capitol. Soldiers stood next to the ASVs donning their assault rifles and brown outfits.

The Capitol lawn was filled with seated attendees, many with signs of protest. One woman’s protest sign read, ‘Hennepin County Attorney #MikeFreeman protects killer cops. 3rd degree is NOT *justice* Get him out of office!!’

Everyone in sight wore face masks and they were provided at supply tables for protesters’ safety.

Holding up four fingers, the gathered crowd chanted “All Four” just like the protesters at the rally the day prior.

In closing, one organizer summarized what protesters were asking for at that time: both for all of the officers involved to face consequences for their actions, and for the severity and lethality of law enforcement to be de-escalated.

After the youth protest Unicorn Riot covered a protest event at Saint Paul City Hall entitled ‘When Cops Take A Knee, We Can’t Breathe!

The event had been called in response to seeing Saint Paul police officers bend down to one knee in honor of George Floyd. “Seeing cops take a knee is triggering, as it now symbolizes the shocking way in which George Floyd was killed by four Minneapolis police officers,” said the event page, noting that the SPPD is one of Minnesota’s deadliest police forces.

Day 8 – ‘When Cops Take A Knee, We Can’t Breathe!’ Part 1 – LIVE

Day 8 – Part 2 – LIVE

History was made that evening when the Minneapolis public school board voted unanimously to sever its decades-long contract with the MPD regarding School Resource Officers (cops in schools).

Curfew hours in the Twin Cities were in effect from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. on this day.

Day 9: Wednesday, June 3

The legal case against Derek Chauvin intensified with the filing of second-degree murder charges in addition to the other two charges.

The complaint, signed by both Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, states that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death “by his culpable negligence, creating an unreasonable risk” and that Chauvin knowingly “took the chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another.

Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, the other three (former) officers involved, were also arrested.

Each man was charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin on both of his charges. The arrests of the three officers who assisted Chauvin in killing Floyd had been one of the most prominent demands made by protesters up to this point.

In the evening, a rally was held in downtown Minneapolis to speak out against media bias that favors police and state narratives which is then aimed against victims of police violence.

It began at the WCCO flagship news studio on Nicollet Mall, which employs a news anchor named Liz Collin. Collin is the wife of MPD Lieutenant Bob Kroll, the President of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis.

The large crowd marched and called for both Collin and Kroll to resign.

The protest moved to the new Star Tribune building. Monique Cullars-Doty spoke about media bias against police victims, such as her nephew Marcus Golden, killed by Saint Paul police in 2017. Organizers brought Star Tribune newspapers and ripped them up in front of the building.

Mary Moriarty, Hennepin County Chief Public Defender, swore to the crowd that she would “continue to speak out against systemic racism” as long as the crowd could promise her they would “continue to protest because that’s what brings change.

We were streaming live throughout the day:

Day 9 – ‘End Media Bias Against Victims of Police Violence’ Part 1 – LIVE

The protest downtown ended after curfew with an open mic in front of the heavily fortified and guarded 1st Precinct police station.

No state action was taken against the protesters who defied curfew, though hundreds of arrests were made the nights before.

Day 9 – Part 2 – LIVE

Governor Walz had signed Executive Order 20-71, his fourth such order, to extend city-wide curfews in the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul through Friday at 4 a.m. Curfew hours in both of the Twin Cities were from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Day 10: Thursday, June 4

A public memorial for George Floyd took place at North Central University in Elliot Park, Minneapolis. We streamed live the memorial and afterwards we interviewed community members outside who had gathered in the area to pay their respects.

Day 10 – George Floyd’s Memorial – LIVE

When asked, the family of George Floyd reported they were glad to hear the charges had been intensified against the four officers, though they still want to see a charge of first-degree murder filed against Chauvin.

Later that evening Floyd’s life was celebrated at the vigil located at 38th and Chicago.

Day 10 – George Floyd Remembrance/Celebration – LIVE

As the rain swept in at night, people worked together to place protective tarps over the flowers, art, and memorabilia honoring Floyd. One community member remarked, “As a community, coming together, it’s all about everyone pitching in and taking part.

There’s no regular patrols or police riding aroundand we don’t got high spiked levels of violence, we don’t have high spiked levels of home theftit’s been good.” — Southside Minneapolis resident

In the past eight days, a community has been growing at the vigil site with no need of the police. Donations and volunteers from far and wide had been pouring in while the community looked out for itself, creating mutual aid stations for those in need during the pandemic and a time where most stores in South Minneapolis are still shuttered or burnt down.

Day 11: Friday, June 5

For the first time since the previous Friday, there was no city-wide curfew order as Governor Walz had chosen not to extend the temporary measure for a fourth time.

A ‘Muslims For George Floyd‘ vigil led by Black Muslim women was held at the memorial site in Minneapolis. We were streaming live:

Day 11 – Muslims for George Floyd – LIVE

After the vigil, we heard from Fadumo Ikar, the widow of Abu Jaylani Kassem, who spoke about her husband being killed by Minneapolis Police in 2002.


We also streamed live from a ‘Justice for George Demands Justice for All‘  press conference and march in the evening in Saint Paul. The goal of that event was to keep spreading the word about others who have been unjustly killed by police in Minnesota so that there might be justice in those cases as well.

Day 11 – Justice for George Demands Justice for All – LIVE

The event was organized by a collection of groups seeking justice for Isak Aden, Jaffort Smith, Brian Quiñones Rosario, Marcus Golden, Jamar Clark, and Cordale Handy, in addition to Native Lives Matter and BLM Twin Cities Metro.

Day 12: Saturday, June 6

On Saturday afternoon, Unicorn Riot covered a rally and march which called for dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department.

Over five thousand were in attendance at the ‘#DefundThePolice #InvestInCommunity‘ action, planned and led by the Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block.

We were streaming live in Northeast Minneapolis:

Day 12 – #DefundThePolice #InvestInCommunity – LIVE

U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN5) addressed the crowd in Bottineau Field Park before it marched. She said that reforms had failed and explicitly stated, “we need to completely dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department.

As the march progressed around the neighborhood, organizers had the crowd paused at a couple spots to observe banner drops. One had been attached to the side of the Police Officers Federation building on University Avenue NE.

A dance break was organized and space made in the crowd for New Black City, a Twin Cities dancing collective who use performance art “as a way to activate social change.

The march stopped in front of the residence of Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, where another banner was unfurled, reading “defund police, defend Black lives.” Protesters filled both sides of the street.

Mayor Jacob Frey came out of his residence and sat with the crowd, wearing a mask to protect against coronavirus transmission. Lead organizers asked Frey to come to the front of the march, where he was asked, “Are you in favor of dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department?” When he responded, “I do not support the full abolition of the police department,” he was asked to go back home.

Day 13: Sunday, June 7

Postal workers held a press conference in front of the burned down 31st Street post office near the 5th Precinct. They marched afterwards down Nicollet Avenue, then down 38th Street to end at the vigil site, where many thousands of people had gathered over the weekend to pay their respects to George Floyd.

Community and faith groups at tables under canopies encouraged everyone to sanitize their hands upon entering the space, and gave out masks to anyone who needed them. Free grilled food and bottled water are continually available at the vigil site.

A Native Lives Matter – Black Lives Matter solidarity march took place during the day, going from North Minneapolis to the vigil site, making a stop at the American Indian Center in the East Phillips neighborhood.

Later in the afternoon, nine city council members gathered in Powderhorn Park with over a thousand community members to discuss the path forward. (The idea of dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department has been gaining traction over the past few years.) The event was organized by Reclaim the Block and Black Visions Collective.

image: the hill of protesters reacts positively to the notion of defunding & disbanding the Minneapolis police department. One person in the foreground has their right arm raised over their head making a closed fist.
Hundreds of people on the embankment at Powderhorn Park

The music of Minneapolis legend Prince floated through the area — June 7, 1958 is Prince’s birthday — and more than one speaker referenced how they were missing him during the uprising.

An acknowledgement of Indigenous land rights opened the event.

Day 13 – ‘The Path Forward’ – LIVE

Candace Montgomery of the Black Visions Collective explained that abolition of police is “about presence, not absence. It’s about building life-affirming institutions.

Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said, “We will end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department” in order to “create systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.” Bender was elected from Ward 10.

Jeremiah Ellison (Ward 5) was unequivocal in his statement:

This council’s gonna dismantle this police department.” — Jeremiah Ellison, Minneapolis City Council (Ward 5)

After city council members spoke, four banners were upheld to face the crowds gathered on the hill. Last in the series was, “We’ll be taking intermediate steps towards ending the MPD through the budget process and other policy & budget decisions.

Community members turned to each other to discuss paths forwards, and were invited to assign a leader to email the city council their small group’s answers.

Arianna Nason, an organizer with MPD150 explained how abolitionists “want to divest from punishment and invest in prevention […] because decades of data prove that it’s more effective at keeping us safe.

We have no idea what the future looks like, but we get to decide.” — Arianna Nason, MPD150


Events surrounding justice for George Floyd and calls for social justice upheaval are taking place every day in both Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Grassroots, community-driven efforts to support and defend local community are rising to the dual challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and supporting residents’ needs after the destruction of multiple pharmacies and grocery stores near the 3rd Precinct, creating greater food insecurity in the neighborhood.

Over the past two weeks Unicorn Riot has recorded from the frontlines of this historic uprising against police terror and state violence, both in the Twin Cities and in other cities across the continent, with significant days of unrest and widespread protests in dozens of cities and smaller towns.

Unprecedented divestments and canceled contracts with the Minneapolis police have occurred in all levels of educational and artistic institutions in Minneapolis and the push to defund the police and imagine alternatives are at an all time high.

Solidarity events have taken place across the continent and around the world since Floyd’s murder, though for those who knew Floyd, justice in the judicial system will be possible only once convictions have been served to the officers who killed their loved one.

Continue following Unicorn Riot for more on the killing of George Floyd.

image: a protest sign has been affixed to a tower of bricks still standing amidst the burned rubble of the AutoZone: "If we do this 'your way' we're doomed to repeat this again..." Behind the remains of the building, stars are visible in the night sky.
A protest sign affixed to a tower of bricks still standing amidst the burned rubble of the AutoZone on Night 3 of protests

George Floyd Uprising in Minneapolis–Saint Paul — The First Two Weeks


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