Wednesday, 30 Sep 2020

The unarmed US blacks whose killings have sparked rage-filled protests: Who are they?

KENOSHA (AFP) – Their names are angrily chanted at demonstrations across the United States: they are the African Americans whose violent deaths this year at the hands of police or civilians have galvanised protests around the world.

BREONNA TAYLOR

A 26-year-old emergency medical technician, she was killed in a police shooting in her own apartment.

The incident took place March 13 in the large southern city of Louisville, Kentucky, when three plainclothes police officers executing a search warrant burst into Ms Taylor’s apartment late at night.

Ms Taylor’s boyfriend, who was in bed with her, grabbed a gun and exchanged fire with the officers. He later said he thought they were criminals.

The officers, who had not activated their body cameras as required, shot Ms Taylor eight times, killing her; a police sergeant was also injured.

The three later filed an after-action report that was found to be rife with errors. They were subsequently suspended.

But more than five months later, none of them has been arrested or charged, and tensions in the Kentucky community remain sharp.

Black stars like Beyonce, LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey have repeatedly demanded that justice be done in the case.

GEORGE FLOYD

The 46-year-old resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota died on May 25 after being pinned to the pavement by a white officer who kept his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes even as Floyd gasped that he could not breathe.

The shockingly public nature of Mr Floyd’s death – which bystanders filmed and then posted on social media – sparked an enormous mobilisation nationwide, as protesters took to the streets to denounce systemic racism and police brutality.

The groundswell of outrage reached beyond American borders, prompting huge demonstrations around the world against the mistreatment of ethnic minorities and the rewriting of colonial history.

The face of Mr Floyd, a father of three whose last job was as a security guard, has become a symbol brandished in anti-racist marches everywhere.

AHMAUD ARBERY

This unarmed 25-year-old was gunned down in broad daylight in February as he was jogging in a residential neighbourhood in the town of Brunswick, in southern Georgia. Two white men, a father and a son, had pursued him in their truck after taking him for a burglar.

Outrage over the incident exploded after a video, taken by a third man, emerged on social media – particularly because two months after the shooting, no arrests had been made.

Amid spreading public indignation, the three were charged with murder. But six months after the killing, it remains unclear why it took 74 days for charges to be filed when the facts of the incident were known long before that.

JACOB BLAKE

The 29-year-old was gravely wounded when a policeman fired seven or eight shots at him as he tried to get into his car on Sunday in Kenosha, a city in the north-central state of Wisconsin.

The scene was filmed by someone present and the two police officers who were trying to stop or arrest Mr Blake have been suspended.

With damage to his spinal cord, Mr Blake is likely to be permanently paralysed, his father said.

A family lawyer said Mr Blake had attempted to break up an argument between two women.

He was shot by a policeman pursuing him as he opened the door to his car – as three of his children watched in horror.

Coming three months after the death of Mr George Floyd, Mr Blake’s shooting has touched off a new round of sometimes violent demonstrations in several cities.

In Kenosha, two people were killed late Tuesday by a shooter suspected of being part of a vigilante group allegedly trying to prevent vandalism.

A 17-year-old teenager was arrested on murder charges in connection with the shootings.

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