The death of George Floyd led to thousands of nationwide protests where protesters were arrested and slapped with serious assault charges.
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Protesters Face Criminal Charges
George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minnesota police sparked protests against police brutality and racial violence across the country. Although most of the protests were peaceful demonstrations, some resulted in violence that led to arrests. Tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter supporters, activists, and protesters were arrested and charged with assault.
Some protesters were charged with assaulting police officers who responded with force, although there was no evidence and no report of police injuries. Other protesters faced threats of life sentences in prison and stacked charges for allegations of physical assault, rioting, looting, arson, and illegal possession of a firearm. Minnesota assault attorneys were flooded with calls from protesters seeking criminal defense to stay out of jail.
Research shows that the majority of protests related to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement did not involve violence, injuries, or property damages. However, federal prosecutors doubled down on cases involving protesters. According to The Prosecution Project, a research group that tracks political violence, federal prosecutors filed over 300 cases related to violent protests between May and October. A former FBI agent stated that federal prosecutors targeted leftist protesters and encouraged prosecuting attorneys to pursue specific charges related to violent protests in the U.S.
Many protesters who were arrested claim they were prevented by police from leaving demonstration areas until curfews took effect, and then were arrested for violation of curfew laws. As a result, attorneys providing legal defense stepped in to represent protesters who alleged they were innocent of charges but feared retaliation from police.
George Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020 resulted in more than 10,000 arrests across the county. In less than two weeks, the FBI increased the number of arrest cases to more than 13,600. Thousands of alleged offenders are currently awaiting trial in felony cases that can land them in prison if convicted.
During protests, Minneapolis sustained substantial damages to businesses from rioting and looting, and the city’s third police precinct was set on fire. Saint Paul sustained damages totaling $82 million. By June 19, 2020, violence in the Twin Cities resulted in at least 2 deaths, 619 arrests, and over $500 million in property damages, accounting for the second most destructive period of local unrest in U.S. history.