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5 things to know about the George Floyd protests and riots

5 things to know about the George Floyd protests and riots

Protesters march for Freddie Gray, 25-year-old fatally injured while in police custody, in the streets of Baltimore, Md., on April 25, 2015. | (Photo: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton)

America's history of race-related demonstrations and riots 

Protests and demonstrations have been an integral part of American discourse and mark some of the most defining moments in American history, including moments like the Boston Tea Party or the 1963 March of Washington.

Peaceful protests are held in Washington, D.C., and other cities across the country every year to advocate for social and political causes, no matter which side of the political aisle they are championed by. 

While Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights activists marched in the 1960s to successfully advocate for federal discrimination protections for African Americans, the fight for civil rights in the U.S. continues to do this day with an ongoing outcry to end acts of police brutality against black people.

Similar demonstrations and protests were held in 2014 and 2015 following the deaths of African Americans Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Eric Garner in New York City, and Freddie Gray in Baltimore, Maryland.  

Brown was shot by a police officer in 2014, while Garner died after being held in a chokehold by police in 2014. Gray died while riding in the back of a police van. 

In Baltimore in 2015, peaceful protests in the city competed for media attention as much focus was placed on the violence that erupted in the city as hundreds of businesses were damaged and over 150 vehicles and over 60 structures were set on fire. In Ferguson in 2014 after Brown’s shooting, there was also significant looting

In 1992, there was civil unrest in Los Angeles after a trial jury acquitted four officers involved in the videotaped beating of Rodney King. There was widespread looting and violence in the months of May and April 1992 that led to 63 deaths, 12,000 arrests and over 2,300 injuries. 

Looters and vandals are often accused of hijacking the message of peaceful protesters. 

“They have not just caused chaos and damage, they are hijacking a moment and changing the conversation,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said this week, according to local media.  

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