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#2 News 2020

May 29, 2020

Murder of George Floyd Sets Off Massive Protests

 #2 Top News Lesson of 2020 Engage with this free news lesson on the death of George Floyd and examine critical issues of police brutality and structural racism in America.


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Trigger Warning: This news lesson contains content that some may find disturbing. 

Read the news summary and watch the video below and then answer the discussion questions. The video has been edited for length and to remove footage of the police officer and George Floyd. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here.

On May 25, George Floyd died while in police custody following arrest. The incident, captured on video, raises questions about the conduct of the specific police officers involved, as well as the department’s broader relationship with citizens of color.

  • Floyd’s death has set off widespread protest across the city of Minneapolis, including conflict between protesters and police and destruction of property
  • Significant protests have also begun in cities as far away as Los Angeles. 
  • Minneapolis councilwoman Andrea Jenkins describes the killing of George Floyd as symbolic of inequality of legal, environmental and health outcomes. Jenkins calls the incident a sign of the “knee on the neck of black America.”

George Floyd Discussion Questions: Structural Racism & Police Brutality in America

  1. Essential question: What sparked the protests after the killing of George Floyd and why have they spread to other cities?
  2. Floyd’s death was captured on video. The widely shared video shows images of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck. How do you think the reaction to Floyd’s death would be different if the incident hadn’t been captured on video?
  3. Councilwoman Andrea Jenkins describes the killing of Floyd as symbolic of deeper societal problems. She makes a connection between his death and disproportionate health outcomes due to loosening of environmental regulations as well as the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on communities of color. What is your response?
  4. Stories of violence and police brutality can be upsetting. If you are upset by this story, who is a trusted adult you can speak with? If you are not sure, ask your teacher.   
  5. Media literacy: The footage of Floyd with a knee on his neck may be difficult for viewers to watch and has been excluded from this video clip. Why do you think that decision was made? Do you think it’s important to show viewers violent footage like this? Why or why not?
george floyd protest
Thousands gathered on foot and in cars in south Minneapolis to protest against police violence and call for justice for George Floyd. Photo Credit:  Fibonacci Blue

Extension Activity

Watch this video or read the transcript of this interview from March 2019 featuring Tetrina Blalock discussing the police shooting of her cousin, her own experience with police in her community and her other experiences with racism. In the interview, Blalock says, “You’re either going to give me my respect, or I’m going to get my respect.” Have students reflect on the experiences Blalock describes and her expectations for respect in her community. What does she mean by respect? For a short NewsHour EXTRA lesson using this video, click here

Read the original article here.

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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