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Who are they? People of colour whose deaths inspired waves of U.S. protests

The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last month has spawned a wave of protests and national soul-searching over systemic racism in the United States while focusing new attention on other recent cases involving violence against ethnic minorities.

The following are some of the most prominent cases involving deaths of people of colour that have surfaced in recent weeks:

Image credit Yahoo News


A 46-year-old African American man who grew up in Houston, Floyd was killed on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer held a knee to his neck for nearly nine minutes while arresting him. A cell phone video taken by a bystander captured Floyd calling out, “I can’t breathe,” before he died.

The incident touched off demonstrations across the country calling for police reform. One of the four officers involved in Floyd’s attempted arrest was charged with second-degree murder and the other three with aiding and abetting murder.

George Floyd. Image credit Ben Crump Law


Arbery, 25, was fatally shot on Feb. 23 while jogging through the coastal Georgia town of Brunswick after being chased by three white men, including a former police officer. The suspects said that they thought the African American man was a burglar.

Nearly two months after his death, a cellphone video of the shooting appeared on social media, setting off a national outcry. The three men were later charged with murder, but critics charge that prosecutors initially ignored the case. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating if grounds exist for possible federal hate crime charges.

Ahmaud Arbery. Image credit BBC


Brooks, a 27-year-old African American, was fatally shot by an Atlanta police officer on June 12 after failing a sobriety test in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant.

The shooting, caught on cellphone and security camera videos, shows Brooks tussling with two police officers and taking a Taser stun gun from one of them. He appeared to fire at one of the officers while running away. One officer then shot him twice in the back, with one round piercing his heart.

A prosecutor later said that Brooks had posed no threat to the officers.

One officer was dismissed from the force and charged with murder and other charges. A second officer was charged with aggravated assault.

Rayshard Brooks. Image credit KristenClarke, JD, Twitter


Taylor, 26, an African American emergency medical technician, was fatally shot on March 13 by Louisville police in her apartment after drug investigators executed a so-called ‘no-knock’ warrant and burst into her home.

Taylor’s boyfriend said he thought the plainclothes officers were intruders and exchanged fire with them.

One of the officers who fired shots was dismissed from the force. The case, which received new attention after the Floyd killing, remains under investigation.

Breonna Taylor. Image credit Corriere della Sera


McClain, 23, died in police custody in August 2019 after officers in the Denver, Colorado suburb of Aurora responded to a report of a man behaving erratically.

Officers stopped McClain and later said that he tried to grab an officer’s gun. He was wrestled to the ground and police used a neck hold on him, causing him to sob, “I can’t breathe,” the same phrase uttered by George Floyd during his arrest. McClain, an African American, later died at the hospital.

Critics say that police had no cause to detain him. A special prosecutor was appointed this week to investigate the death.

Elijah McClain. Image credit Brendan Smialowski, AP


Ingram Lopez, a 27-year-old Latino man, died in police custody in Tucson, Arizona, after officers were called about a complaint that he was intoxicated on April 21.

Police video shows officers restraining him with his hands behind his back as he was face down on the ground. The video shows Lopez repeatedly asking for water and crying out for his grandmother before he eventually fell silent.

Three officers involved in the incident resigned a day before a police investigation found that they committed multiple policy violations. The city manager rejected a resignation offer from the chief of police.

The county attorney’s office has launched an investigation, but no charges have been filed. The police chief has also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to review the case.

Carlos Ingram Lopez. Image credit Twitter

Source: Reuters


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