Protestors marching in Minneapolis following the death of George Floyd. Photo by Lorie Shaull
Trigger Warning: Some users may find this content disturbing.
Read the news summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. The video has been edited for length and to remove footage of the shooting of Philando Castille and death of George Floyd. To watch the video in its entirety or read the transcript, click here.
Summary: On May 25, George Floyd died after a police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis. But even before Floyd’s death sparked nation- and worldwide protests, Minneapolis had a long history of treating and policing black and white communities differently.
- Racism in Minneapolis: On average, black families in Minneapolis make nearly $50,000 less than white families—the second largest racial income gap in the country. Minneapolis has a long history of discriminatory housing practices as well as one of the largest education achievement gaps in the country.
- Minnesota police have come under fire in recent years for other high-profile police shootings of black men. In 2016, 32-year old Philando Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop in Minnesota. In 2015, a Minneapolis police officer fatally shot 24-year old Jamar Clark.
- In 2016, the Minneapolis Police Department put new policies in place aimed at reducing the use of force and requiring officers to intervene if a colleague is abusive.
Discussing Racism in Minneapolis
- Essential question: Do you think policy changes can address systemic problems of racism? If so, what policy changes would be helpful?
- What systemic hurdles existed for black Minneapolis residents prior to George Floyd’s death?
- In the video, the reporter mentions Minneapolis’ sharp income inequality, its history of discriminatory housing practices, it’s large education achievement gap, and its history of discriminatory policing. How might each of those factors disrupt a person’s life
- Professor Brittany Lewis refers to “overt” and “subtle” racism. What does she mean?
- Stories about police violence and systemic injustice can be painful to watch. Who is a trusted adult you can speak with if you need to? If you are not sure, ask your teacher.
- Media Literacy: What role do smartphones play in public understanding of racism? How should news outlets report on video captured by citizens and posted to social media?
Free Webinar: Identity and Race in The Classroom
Extension Activity: Racism in Minneapolis and Policing in Your Community
In the video, the reporter mentions new measures adopted by some police stations, like the 2016 Minneapolis policy requiring police officers to intervene when their colleagues are abusive.
- With a partner, brainstorm measures that you think would help improve safety and trust in police-community interactions.
- Go to mappingpoliceviolence.org and look around. Under the heading “There are proven solutions,” compare the solutions you and your partner came up with to the ones offered by the website.
- Use the section at the bottom of the page to explore police violence by department. Plug in the Minneapolis police department as well as your local department.
- Media literacy: Go to the “About the Data” tab at the top of the Mapping Police Violence website. Read about how and where the data for this project was collected. Were there any surprises? Having read about the data sources and definitions used for this project, do you feel more confident, less confident or the same about the information you just learned?
- Read the original article.