Quiet night in Twin Cities; medical examiner rules Floyd’s death a homicide

Several hundred protesters gather outside the State Capitol.
Several hundred protesters gather outside the State Capitol, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, on Monday. Protesters peacefully marched from the governor's residence earlier the day, chanting Floyd's name as they headed to the Capitol.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News

Updated: June 2, 12:26 a.m. | Posted: June 1, 8:02 p.m.

The Twin Cities saw its third night of calm Monday following last week’s unrest.

With a curfew again in effect, the streets were mostly quiet, especially compared with the four chaotic nights that followed the killing of George Floyd, 46, while in police custody on Memorial Day.

St. Paul police said 65 people were arrested in front of the Capitol on curfew violations. The arrests were made largely without incident, reported MPR News’ Tom Scheck. 

The protesters had been part of a larger group that rallied peacefully near the governor’s residence and then spent much of the evening at the Capitol. The crowd began to break up as the 10 p.m. curfew neared.

A peaceful crowd also lingered after curfew at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis, near the site of Floyd’s death. Overall, there were few reports of violence in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Gov. Tim Walz had earlier announced that a shorter curfew than prior nights would last from 10 p.m. until 4 a.m. Unlike the two previous nights, interstates weren’t closed before the curfew.

At an 8 p.m. briefing, state Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell said several thousand National Guard troops had been deployed across the Twin Cities. He praised residents for “tremendous success” in complying with curfews but added the guard presence would remain for now.

“You will not see a big shift,” he said. “We will be evaluating this on a day-by-day basis. The governor will direct the reduction further as we get stabilization.”

Medical examiner rules Floyd death a homicide

On Monday, two reports related to the cause and manner of Floyd's death were released.

The first came from a lawyer for Floyd family members whose independent autopsy concluded George Floyd died of “asphyxia due to neck and back compression.” That contradicted a preliminary report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner last week.

But later in the day, the medical examiner’s office released a new document that saying it had ruled Floyd’s death a homicide. The office said his death was caused by cardiopulmonary arrest while “being restrained” by Minneapolis police. The office also listed “hypertensive heart disease,” “fentanyl intoxication” and “recent methamphetamine use” as other “significant conditions.”

The former officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck during the arrest, Derek Chauvin, was charged last week with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The other three officers involved haven’t been charged.

Protesters continue to demand accountability for all four officers and steeper charges for Chauvin. A crowd of several thousand people demonstrated peacefully in the late afternoon near the governor’s residence in St. Paul. “All four!” they chanted, urging officials to arrest and charge the other three officers.

Security threat ends protest early

Speakers included Diamond Reynolds, who used Facebook Live to show the aftermath of the 2016 fatal police shooting of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, in a suburb of St. Paul. The police officer in that case was tried and acquitted. 

About 30 St. Paul police officers knelt in solidarity during the protest, and Gov. Tim Walz mingled with the crowd.

“They don’t trust the system that hasn’t served them, and they deserve to be heard,” Walz told reporters during the protest. “They expect change, and that’s why I’m here to listen to them.”

Organizers ended the protest early due to what they called a security threat. They wouldn’t specify the threat, saying that their security team, not law enforcement, had made them aware of it, and they decided to end the gathering out of an abundance of caution. Several hundred demonstrators then began marching down Summit Avenue toward the Capitol. As evening fell, they milled about peacefully on the Capitol grounds. 

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump announced at the White House that he had mobilized civilian and military personnel to help restore calm to U.S. cities but didn’t specify what that would involve. He said he was “revolted” by Floyd’s death and promised that his administration would seek justice. He added that if states couldn’t restore calm, he would send in the U.S. military.

Earlier in the day, Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd called for calm while visiting the site of his brother’s death in South Minneapolis.

“I understand y’all are upset. I doubt y’all are half as upset as I am,” said Terrence Floyd, who lives in New York. “What are y’all doing? ... That’s not going to bring my brother back at all.”

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