Thousands of people again crowded the streets in front of the 5th Precinct headquarters Saturday afternoon in a peaceful, loosely organized protest over the death of George Floyd, who was choked by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for nearly nine minutes.
Protesters made way for drum circles and gave speeches with bullhorns, holding signs reading “I can’t breathe,” “Hold killer cops accountable” and “Am I next.” Police stood in riot gear, as they had during a similar protest the night before, on the precinct’s roof.
Behind the protest site, the Lyndale post office smoldered as volunteers sorted through the wreckage and picked out charred letters. Water streaming from the burned out Wells Fargo branch flowed into the street, as dozens of citizens worked to direct it into the sewer.
Lyndale resident Ivy Scott came to the protest with her five younger cousins.
“There’s a lot of crime going on, and it’s only right for the little ones to come out and see what’s happening around the world,” she said. “The black community — and not just the black community — is tired of the nonsense that’s been going on. This is a time for everybody to get justice for anyone who’s been killed by the cops and is dying with our skin color.”
Lux Thunberg of Hopkins said the presence of white people at the protests gave him hope that real change can happen without continued fire and destruction.
“The systematic racism is not what it once was when we rioted in ‘65,” he said. “We’ve got a younger generation who do care about their black friends. You see the majority of the people out here are melanin-recessive individuals. … Now we can go to Congress, now we can go to the governor, now we can talk to the mayor.”
Zarlasht Naiz, an ECCO resident, said she came out to the protest to represent the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance and combat anti-blackness within the Asian community.
“No matter if the cop is Hmong, white, whatever, we’re against police brutality, period,” she said, referring to officer Tou Thao, a Hmong-American MPD officer who was fired for his role in holding back bystanders as Chauvin choked Floyd. “Regardless of what’s been happening with the different identities of the cops, it’s important for us to be out here as Asians supporting our black brothers and sisters.”
Naiz said it’s been an emotionally draining week.
“I’ve been hearing the sounds of rubber bullets, I’ve had guns pointed at me by the National Guard,” she said. “You’ll be walking and something will blow up.”