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In pictures: Minneapolis reacts to the death of George Floyd

All photos: Wale Agboola

For DG #39, which is being posted out to subscribers this week, we spoke to photographer Wale Agboola about his coverage of the unrest that overtook his hometown of Minneapolis in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

Floyd, a black, 46-year-old father of five, was arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis on 25th May 2020, accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Footage of the arrest showed a police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and pinned to the floor. Despite Floyd saying more than 20 times that he couldn’t breathe, the police officer continued applying pressure for almost eight minutes.

To complement the photos we are publishing in the magazine, below is a further selection of images taken by Agboola documenting the wave of protests, outbreaks of violence and public mourning that followed. His photographs dramatically chronicle the city’s Black Lives Matter protests and their aftermath – including his fellow citizens’ memorials for a man whose death sparked a global reckoning with racial injustice.


 

The demonstrations

As footage of the killing spread, hundreds took to the streets in protest. On 28th May, demonstrators gathered around the Third Precinct police station where the officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest were based, and set fire to it. Protests were soon being staged in other cities, and Minneapolis declared a state of emergency after looting and violence broke out. President Trump threatened to send in the National Guard, tweeting that “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. His remark was hidden by Twitter for “glorifying violence”.

“I’ve been to a lot of marches, but I’ve never seen people rebel and really fight for what they believe in” — Wale Agboola

“When you push an entire group of people to a wall, they’re bound to push back” 


 

The memorial

A service for George Floyd was held on 4th June at Minneapolis’s Frank J Lindquist Sanctuary. The hundreds in attendance stood in silence for eight minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Floyd was initially thought to have been pinned to the ground. Meanwhile Black Lives Matter protests continued around the world.

 

“I was going through so much anger, so much grief. When everyone saw George Floyd’s casket it was really painful” 


 

The rebuilding

On 29th May, Derek Chauvin was charged with murder and manslaughter. After authorities in Minneapolis deployed the National Guard, order was restored in the city. Insurers later estimated the cost of the property destruction and looting to be at least $25 million.

“I stopped photographing and started to help. We were delivering food supplies, water, diapers…”

“The light in all of this was watching people lend a hand to each other. It felt like something that we all had to do, because this is our home. It really was a thing of beauty”

You can read the full interview with Wale Agboola and see more of  his photography in Delayed Gratification #39.

 

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