‘I can’t breathe’: Protest for justice in George Floyd killing and police accountability ensues in El Paso

Paulina Astrid Spencer, Entertainment Editor

Hundreds of protesters flooded the streets near Memorial Park in Central El Paso Sunday before marching to the El Paso Police Department (EPPD) headquarters on Montana Avenue and Raynor Street. Protestors gathered to demand justice for the death of George Floyd and other unarmed African Americans who’ve died in encounters with law enforcement. 

Yesterday marked the sixth day since the first protest broke out in Minneapolis after Floyd, an unarmed black man, died on Memorial Day in Minneapolis.  

Demonstrations erupted in several American cities after a video surfaced on social media, showing police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes resulting in his death.  

The video quickly garnered attention and became viral on social media, sparking outrage amongst the people of Minneapolis and throughout the world, eventually reaching the borderland. 

El Paso joined a growing list of cities across the nation that have seen protests transpire, calling for the arrest of the four Minneapolis officers in the viral video and to put an end to police brutality. 

“I think it’s awesome that we can come together and show our dedication to the cause, show our support to people we might not know but we definitely see the injustice and we’re not going to stand up for it,” said protestor Dynacee Manglona, 21. 

Protesters met at the park and knelt for eight minutes and 32 seconds of silence in memory of the tragic death of Floyd and to represent the amount of time Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck

After various speakers spoke out about the injustice, the protesters then marched their way to the EPPD headquarters located at 911 Raynor Street, chanting multiple phrases including “I can’t breathe — the words Floyd uttered right before he died — and “hands up, don’t shoot.” 

“Sitting behind a computer, tweeting about it, or making a Facebook post is not enough,” said attendee Cedric Miller, 26. “I have a voice, so I’m choosing to use it the best way I know how.” 

“Arrest all four, arrest all four!” a multitude of protesters chanted during the protest referring to Chauvin and three other officers featured in the video of Floyd’s death. 

What started as a peaceful protest then turned rowdy towards the night as protestors stood their ground refusing to leave the park, prompting police officers to surround the area and back up the large crowd obstructing the streets. 

The crowd of protestors at Memorial Park was tear gassed by law enforcement at around 9:30 p.m. after some demonstrators threw items like water bottleat the police officers. The group gradually began to disperse an hour later while some peaceful protestors remained both at the park and at police station. 

EPPD reported multiple officers being assaulted at locations around Memorial Park, and additional assistance was requested. 

Things remained tense at Memorial Park and surrounding areas after a group of protestors faced-off with police officers. 

At around the same time tear gas was used, EPPD announced that an officer was injured. The extent of the injuries was not made known, and an ambulance was called to the scene. 

Chauvin, 44, was arrested late Friday morning in Minneapolis and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter four days after Floyd’s death, yet there is no word on the possible arrest of the other three officers. 

These charges sparked further outrage as many believe Chauvin should be charged for first-degree murder. 

“The officer needs to be charged with first-degree murder because it was not an accident, he should not be charged with third-degree, he needs to be charged for the appropriate crime,” said Alexandra Cortez, 25. 

Minneapolis and other cities have implemented a city curfew after many protests resulted in looting and violence, prompting backlash against demonstrators.  

However, others believe that looting and other forms of protesting are necessary and appropriate response to the situation at hand. 

The protests across the country and around the world show no signs of stopping prompting many cities to enforce curfews to try to avoid any further demonstrations.  

Paulina Astrid Spencer may be reached at [email protected]