The George Floyd Protests: A Civil Demonstration Turns Violent

Ryne Dunman, Staff Writer

Black Lives Matter protests have broken out nationwide amid growing unrest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died in police custody after being pinned by Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin. Floyd’s death, a symbol of police brutality against black Americans, has inspired an international movement advocating for an end to racial discrimination. However, the once civil fight for justice has recently become marked by riots, looting and arson across the United States.

In Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, the origin of the protests, over 270 businesses were vandalized, burned or looted as of June 1, according to the StarTribune.

On the same day, luxury stores in New York City were targeted by looters, namely Gucci, Chanel and Apple according to Business Insider.

Southern California has recently begun feeling the effects of looting and violence. 

In Los Angeles, an epicenter of violence and arson emerged within the city’s Fairfax district on May 31, according to the Guardian. ABC7 helicopter footage captured looters at the Pike Outlets shopping center in Long Beach unregulated by police on June 1. In Costa Mesa, South Coast Plaza mall announced closing a day before its expected reopening and boarded up storefronts in anticipation of localized attacks, according to KTLA.

Some activists cited centuries of racial oppression and privilege to account for the violence that has swept the United States.

“If it’s difficult for you to understand why people resort to violence, it probably means your privilege has protected you from being put in a situation where you feel you have no other choice,” therapist and social media influencer Yolanda Renteria said on Instagram.

Meanwhile, sophomore Alexis Arroyo argued the rampant crime and violence during the George Floyd protests was opportunistic and unrelated to a peaceful agenda promoted by Black Lives Matter advocates.

“I believe that the message was seen and heard from many in Minneapolis, but burning down other cities and innocent people’s hard worked businesses is not the answer this country needs right now,” Arroyo said. “Other people are taking advantage of this protest and using it for their personal needs, like stealing from businesses, which was not the point of the protest in the first place.”

More than 62,000 members of the National Guard have been deployed in 24 states, and over 40 American cities have enforced curfews. As of June 3, nearly 10,000 protestors have been apprehended nationwide for crimes ranging from looting to breaking curfew, according to ABC News.

While violent protests have spawned in major American cities, many cities have also experienced non-violent rallies. 

In Irvine, a group of several dozen protestors organized a peaceful demonstration in front of the Irvine City Hall and Irvine Civic Center on May 31, according to the OC Register. Senior Daniel Han was among the Irvine protestors and documented the events.

“We wanted to express our shared frustrations against the unjust system that poisons [our] country’s values,” Han said on Instagram. “We protest in order to pave the road for you to march forward in. We protest so that you know there are people across the nation that stand with you and will support you. We protest so that we can echo the words from MLK Jr. and the cries of change from history.”