George Floyd’s murder 1 year later: A timeline of social justice

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, dies in police custody in Minneapolis.

Video footage of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee on his neck goes viral, sparking protests that begin the next day and quickly spread to cities around the country, from Los Angeles and Memphis to Atlanta and New York, bringing, along with mainly peaceful marches, clashes with police, mass destruction of property and city curfews.

On May 29, Chauvin is arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Floyd’s death is ruled a homicide, while three additional Minneapolis officers — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — are charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s killing, and Chauvin is hit with an additional charge: second-degree murder.

Anti-racism solidarity protests are held around the world, as some U.S. cities call in the National Guard. Thousands flock to Brooklyn for a massive Black Trans Lives Matter demonstration, while Pride marches around the country focus their energy on the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters bring down or deface statues of confederates around the country, and, following suit in England and Brussels, those of colonial figures.

Further harnessing the anti-police-violence momentum, as protests still raged, were vigils held for Breonna Taylor on June 5, which would have been her 27th birthday. Taylor, seen here in a photo widely circulated by her family, was killed in her own home by police in Louisville.

Democrats introduce police reform bill on June 8, while George Floyd is buried on June 9.

New York state bans chokeholds by police.

During the Strike for Black Lives on July 20, thousands of U.S. workers walk off their jobs for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time it was believed Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck (though it was actually a bit longer) — to draw attention to systemic racism.

Racial justice efforts propel politics as the brothers of George Floyd campaign for Biden, and Philonise declares at one event, “Justice is on the ballot, equality is on the ballot…I don’t want to see anybody else choked to death.”

In her victory speech, newly elected vice president Kamala Harris thanks, albeit vaguely, those who “marched and organized for equality and justice,” and the many Black women who are “too often overlooked, but so often prove that they are the backbone of our democracy.” Black Lives Matter publicly presses for a meeting with Biden and Harris, declaring that the organization “invested heavily in this election,” and “we want something for our vote.”

House approves the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Derek Chauvin’s trial begins on March 22.

On April 11, just nine days before the Chauvin verdict, Daunte Wright, a Black 20-year-old man, is killed by white police officer Kim Potter during a traffic stop in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minn., reigniting protests. On April 20, Chauvin is found guilty on all three counts, with President Biden calling it the ”right verdict” and promising to keep fighting for full passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

On May 7, unsealed court docs show that all four officers involved in Floyd’s murder — Chauvin, Thao, Keung and Lane — face federal civil rights charges of violating Floyd’s constitutional rights, including his right to medical attention. On May 12, the judge in the Chauvin case rules that “aggravating factors,” such as the ex-officer being “particularly cruel,” would allow for a longer sentence than state guidelines suggest.

One-year commemorations and vigils are planned for May 25, to honor George Floyd on the anniversary of his death — including an in-person event in Minneapolis at the George Floyd Global Memorial.

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Story by Beth Greenfield and experience created by Quinn Lemmers, Luis Saenz and Tim Chaffee

Photo Credits: Getty Images, AP Images
George Floyd / Courtesy of the family of George Floyd
Breonna Taylor / Courtesy of the family of Breonna Taylor
Daunte Wright / Courtesy of Ben Crump Law

Video Transcript