On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 and told the police that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.
In wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd, an ongoing series of protests and civil unrest which began in Minneapolis took root in cities across the United States and the globe. Citizens of Florida were called to action, demanding a change to the unjust systems of violence that led to the death of Floyd, and that has stolen the lives of hundreds of Black Americans in recent years. Activists are calling for the end to uncheck police brutality, the address of centuries old institutional racism against African Americans, and the enactment of policies that remedy the economic, racial, and social inequalities across Florida.
On May 31, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis activated the Florida National Guard, and deployed 700 soldiers to assist law enforcement agencies across the state. Additionally, DeSantis instructed the Florida Highway Patrol to mobilize 1,300 troopers to assist in policing actions.
In cities across the State, protesters have been met with hostility and violence by law enforcement officials during these demonstrations calling to account the very systems of injustice they had been confronted with.
Two separate protests took place on May 30, with one group of 150 protesters marching along Orange Avenue to Orlando City Hall while the other blocked Orange Blossom Trail and Florida State Road 408. At approximately 7:35pm, police used tear gas to disperse the latter group.
On May 31 another crowd of protesters walked to Orlando City Hall; according to reports, at approximately 7:20pm Orange County Police maced peaceful protestors marching on the sidewalk of SR 408 on Orange Blossom Trail
the demonstration started out peacefully, but tear gas was again used to disperse protesters heading for Interstate 4.