ST. PAUL — An overwhelmed Terrence Floyd fell to his knees and cried out in anguish on the street in front of Cup Foods in southeast Minneapolis on Monday, June 1, the spot where his brother George Floyd spent his final moments a week ago before dying in police custody.
In the week since, untold scores of viewers have seen the footage of George Floyd's last breaths online and on the airwaves. That video, captured by a bystander to Floyd's arrest, would burn the image of a white police officer kneeling on his neck into the public consciousness and spark a wave of protests and civil unrest that have rocked the Twin Cities area and small and large communities beyond.
Outrage over George Floyd's death has renewed calls for wider policing reforms. Amid sometimes violent riots that followed his death, calls for peace and justice have also been heard.
But as Brooklyn, N.Y. civil rights leader, the Rev. Kevin McCall, who appeared alongside Terrence Floyd on Monday, pointed out to onlookers, "you'll give us peace when you give us justice."
His words came a day after major developments in the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck and fired in the aftermath, were announced. Officials on Sunday, May 31, announced that Chauvin, who has been charged with murder and manslaughter, will be prosecuted by a team led by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
And Monday, attorneys for Floyd's family released the results of an independent autopsy that listed his cause of death as asphyxiation. Also on Monday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office declared Floyd's manner of death as homicide.
Police initially said Floyd was sent to the hospital when he experienced medical distress during his arrest, which was made in the course of their response to a counterfeiting incident called in by Cup Foods on Monday.
Prior to his arrest, Floyd was found in a car matching the description of one reported in the call to police.
Whether Ellison's appointment to the case, something lawmakers and members of Floyd's family had called for, will quell further unrest in Minneapolis and St. Paul remains to be seen. But an ongoing curfew order appears to have been more widely adhered to on Sunday evening, when local authorities responded to fewer fires and incidents of property damage.
What was clear from a visit to Cup Foods on Monday, however, was that a community is still mourning for George Floyd, 46, and the many other black Americans who have died in police custody before him across the country. A memorial to Floyd featuring pictures, signs, flowers and artwork has grown to encompass the entirety of that intersection where Chicago Avenue and 38th Street meet.
Dozens of demonstrators attended a prayer vigil there Monday afternoon. Gospel music filled an air already heavy with the smell of backyard grills from neighbors, and on street corners other residents distributed brown paper bags filled with food.
The peaceful scene stood in stark contrast to the evening riots elsewhere in the Twin Cities the past week. Government officials pinned some of the destruction they caused on groups from outside the area with possible criminal ties.
Speaking to demonstrators Monday, Terrence Floyd disavowed the destruction during an appearance where he called for justice on behalf of his brother.
"If I'm not out here messing up my community, what are you doing?" he asked shortly after getting to his feet.
Terrence Floyd traveled to Minneapolis on Monday from his hometown of Houston, where he and his brother were raised. Others demonstrating in the Twin Cities made similar journeys to protest Floyd's death.
"I drove here from the St. Louis area yesterday," said the Rev. Juard Barnes, who brought his wife and children. "I came here to stand with our people and be part of a movement for racial and economic dignity. And this is in the center of that."
That so many would travel and congregate here at a time when a global pandemic continues to rage is striking. But many said they feel the need to do so given the history that preceded Floyd's death.
For Jeanine Estime, who lives down the street from Cup Foods, seeing her neighborhood transform into a living memorial has been overwhelming. While she hasn't watched the video of Floyd's final moments herself, Estime said she was upset by what happened to him.
The wider outrage is not over the death of "one black guy," she said, but is an "an outcry for justice."
Some protesters Monday said justice will not be served in its entirety until the three other former Minneapolis Police officers with Chauvin during George Floyd's arrest — J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Thomas Lane — are also arrested and charged. Elsewhere, in St. Paul, scores of protesters demonstrated outside of the Minnesota Governor's Residence to demand as much.
Ellison, who will lead the case alongside Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, has declined to say whether additional charges or arrests will be made or filed in the case.