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40 held in NYC over protests against black man’s death

New York: At least 40 people were arrested in New York City as people took to the streets to protest against the death of a black man in police custody in Minneapolis.

Over 100 people gathered in Manhattan’s Union Square on Thursday afternoon to express their anger over what they called police brutality that led to George Floyd’s death, the media reported.

The 46-year-old African-American man died on Monday after a white police officer pinned him to the ground with a knee to the back of his neck while he was handcuffed and other officers stood by.

While being pinned down, Floyd repeatedly pleaded, “please, I can’t breathe” and “don’t kill me”.

The four officers involved in the case were fired shortly after a video showing Floyd’s death went viral on social media on Tuesday, sparking a national outcry for justice.

The incident has drawn comparisons to the 2014 death of New York African-American Eric Garner, who was put in a chokehold by police, despite his cries of “I can’t breathe”. His death galvanized the nationwide “Black Lives Matter” movement.

The New York City protesters chanted slogans, including “I can’t breathe”, while standing in lines face to face with dozens of policemen.

Some of them used abusive language toward police.

The 40 protesters were arrested after several scuffles and a fight between the two sides.

Local news reports said someone threw a trash can to police and another tried to grab an officers’ gun, while NBC reported that a protester punched an officer in the face.

Demonstrations also took place as well in cities like Los Angeles and Memphis, according to media reports, while large-scale protests have turned violent in Minneapolis, for which Minnesota Governor Tim Walz on Thursday declared a state of emergency.

The incident concerning Floyd occurred on Monday night when after receiving a complaint, reportedly that a man might be trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a local store, police officers arrived on the scene and found Floyd sitting in his vehicle, according to media reports.

When they ordered him to get out, they said he resisted arrest, adding in their official report filed after the incident that after they had handcuffed him and made him lie facedown on the pavement they noticed that he was in “medical distress”.

In the video taken by a passerby of Floyd’s arrest and the events leading to his death, the man is seen lying facedown on the pavement beside a patrol car with one of the officers kneeling on the back of his neck for more than five minutes without changing position, despite the fact that Floyd can be heard saying that he cannot breathe and begging for the officers not to hurt him, until he ultimately loses consciousness.

“Please, please, please I can’t breathe,” and “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Please, please. I can’t breathe,” Floyd is heard saying. But the officer never reduced the pressure of his knee and body weight on the man’s neck until an ambulance arrived minutes later and Floyd was loaded onto a stretcher showing no signs of life.

He was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into the case, which has sparked strong reaction across the country.

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Black man’s death: Minnesota declares emergency

Washington: Minnesota Governor Tim Walz has declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard to restore order after protests over the death of a black man in police custody turned violent, with widespread damage and looting in Minneapolis city.

George Floyd died on Monday evening in Minneapolis shortly after a white police officer held him down with a knee on his neck though the victim repeatedly pleaded, “please, I can’t breathe” and “don’t kill me”.

The four officers involved in the case were fired shortly after a video showing Floyd’s death went viral on social media on Tuesday, sparking a national outcry for justice.

Walz’s order came after Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey’s called for assistance after widespread damage and looting took place amid the protests on Wednesday night.

“George Floyd’s death should lead to justice and systemic change, not more death and destruction,” Walz said in a statement.

“It is time to rebuild. Rebuild the city, rebuild our justice system, and rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and those they’re charged to protect.”

The National Guard Adjutant General will work with local government agencies to provide personnel, equipment, and facilities needed to respond to and recover from this emergency, according to a report from local newspaper Star Tribune.

In addition, the Minnesota State Patrol will supply 200 troopers. State Patrol helicopters and other aircraft will also be available to assist law enforcement officers on the ground, said the report.

Wednesday night’s protests began peacefully and escalated into gunfire and arson, with about 30 buildings reported ablaze, and countless others damaged, said the report.

Amid national outrage over the incident, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Thursday that Floyd was “murdered” at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.

“We saw it on TV – him being murdered on TV,” Pelosi told reporters in the Capitol.

Appearing on CNN later in the day, the top Democrat called Floyd’s death “an execution”.

“We saw it, so we can’t deny it or qualify it,” she said, adding: “So justice has to be done.”

House Democrats are eyeing a variety of responses, including the adoption of more stringent federal policing standards and a pressure campaign on the Justice Department to get more aggressive in tackling the issue of police misconduct targeting African-Americans, according to a report of The Hill.

“There are all kinds of expressions of concern,” Pelosi said. “But not just expressions of concern, plans to take action so that this stops.”

Besides Minneapolis, protests against the incident took place in some other US cities including Los Angeles and Memphis, local media reported.

The Justice Department said on Thursday it would make the case a “top priority”.

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