Analysis

Here’s How Democrats And The Media Have Responded To The Months Of Civil Unrest Following George Floyd’s Death

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The United States is engulfed in ongoing civil unrest as major cities across the country have faced protests and riots following the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody May 25.

The majority of demonstrations have been peaceful but waves of violence and looting have generated mass chaos.

Some Democrats have inflamed and encouraged the riots in many cases with statements either denying the violence or shifting the blame to President Donald Trump and his supporters. Here is a timeline of major riots that have taken place in American cities and how Democrats have responded to them.

May

A Facebook video uploaded May 26 depicted Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin placing his knee onto Floyd’s neck during an encounter that took place one day prior and led to Floyd’s death. (RELATED: How Minnesota’s Procedural Rules Almost Guarantee Derek Chauvin Is Going To Jail)

Civil unrest began to grow May 27 as protestors took to the streets of Minneapolis. Democratic Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey requested National Guard support May 28 after violence and looting destroyed parts of the city. A police precinct was set on fire and by mid-June the Twin Cities had seen at least two deaths, 619 arrests and $500 million in damage to 1,500 properties according to the Star Tribune.

TOPSHOT - A protester reacts standing in front of a burning building set on fire during a demonstration in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 29, 2020, over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white policeman kneeled on his neck for several minutes. - Violent protests erupted across the United States late on May 29 over the death of a handcuffed black man in police custody, with murder charges laid against the arresting Minneapolis officer failing to quell seething anger. (Photo by Chandan KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

A protester reacts standing in front of a burning building in Minneapolis, Minnesota (Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images)

Left-wing commentators almost immediately offered their support. Filmmaker Michael Moore called the rioters “good citizens” and said police headquarters “must be demolished” in a tweet May 28.

MSNBC commentator Zerlina Maxwell demanded that the media stop calling the situation a “riot” in a tweet May 29.

Frey said Trump “knows nothing about the strength of Minneapolis” in a statement May 29 after the president slammed the mayor for not controlling the riots. Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused Trump of “calling for violence” in a tweet May 29 after the president said he would deploy the National Guard.


A peaceful demonstration in front of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. turned violent May 30 as rioters gathered at Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House. Several monuments on the National Mall, including the World War II memorial and the Lincoln Memorial, were vandalized May 30 and the historic St. John’s Church was set on fire May 31.

Democratic Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser suggested that Trump was hiding and said he was afraid of a handful of “peaceful protesters” after the White House went into a lockdown May 29.

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 01: A large law enforcement response is seen near the White House after a protest was dispersed on June 1, 2020 in downtown Washington, DC. Protests and riots continue in cities across America following the death of George Floyd, who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Chauvin, 44, was charged last Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A large law enforcement response is seen near the White House after a protest was dispersed (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

June

Clashes occurred between protesters and police June 1 in the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill. Democratic Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said the unrest was “instigated and perpetuated by white men.” The Seattle Police Department withdrew from the East Precinct building June 8, paving the way for demonstrators to declare the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) June 11.

Durkan told CNN host Chris Cuomo in an interview June 11 that the CHAZ had “more like a block party atmosphere” and likened it to the “summer of love.” A resident living in the area told the Daily Caller in an interview June 13 that he heard “gunshots every single night.” Four shootings were reported between June 20 and June 29 with two people killed and four injured.

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Mostly peaceful demonstrations in Portland in early June led to escalating civil unrest throughout the month. The Portland Business Alliance estimated that riots and violence in Portland by late June had cost small businesses $23.2 million and the Portland Police Department lost $6.2 million in related costs.

July

Durkan ordered the Capitol Hill neighborhood to be cleared out July 1 and CHAZ was officially brought to an end.

SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 14: A signs reads "Capitol Hill Occupied Protest" in area that has been referred to by protesters by that name as well as "Capitol Hill Organized Protest, or CHOP, on June 14, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. Black Lives Matter protesters have continued demonstrating in what was first referred to as the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, which encompasses several blocks around the Seattle Police Departments vacated East Precinct, but what protesters are now calling the "Capitol Hill Organized Protest." (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

A signs reads “Capitol Hill Occupied Protest” in Seattle, Washington (David Ryder/Getty Images)

Rioters in Portland reportedly lit fires inside a police union building and swarmed the Mark O. Hatfield federal courthouse in the first week of July as unrest in the city escalated.

Democratic Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler initially told the Trump administration that he did “not need or want their help,” according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. Federal officers arrived anyways in order to protect federal property and engaged with rioters over the next week with tear gas and other riot dispersion tactics.

PORTLAND, OR - JULY 24: Federal officers deploy tear gas and less-lethal munitions while dispersing a crowd of about a thousand protesters in front of the Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse on Thursday, July 24, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. Protesters continued to clash with federal officers Friday morning as President Trump announced plans to deploy similar federal forces to other U.S. cities. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Federal officers deploy tear gas and less-lethal munitions in Portland, Oregon (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Democratic Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden downplayed the risk of violence and instead turned attention to the Trump administration, stating that federal officers were “acting like an occupying army” in a tweet July 12.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi referred to federal officers as “stormtroopers” and accused them of “kidnapping protesters” in a tweet July 17. Pelosi also downplayed the riots by claiming that federal involvement was “in response to graffiti.”

Democratic New York Rep. Jerry Nadler minimized the violence in Portland and told political commentator Austen Fletcher that antifa violence was a myth in a video released July 27. (RELATED: ‘That’s A Myth’: Democrats Downplay The Violence In Portland)

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Democratic Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal minimized the riots during a CNN appearance July 29 where she referred to the riots as “some protesters at some building in Portland.”

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Police data compiled by The Oregonian found that 15 people had been killed in Portland in July, with a total of 24 people killed since the demonstrations kicked off in the city in late May and early June.

August

Hundreds of people rioted and looted stores in Chicago between August 9 and August 10 after a man was reportedly shot by police. (RELATED: Police In Some Riot-Torn Cities Won’t Say How They’ll Protect In-Person Voters In November)

Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot refused federal assistance and said she would not allow “Donald Trump’s troops” to “terrorize our residents.”

More than 100 people were arrested and 13 officers were injured in Chicago during multiple days of rioting. Lightfoot later changed her tune and defended banning protests near her residence, telling reporters she had a right to make sure her “home is secure” during a press conference August 20.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - AUGUST 10: A window is shattered at a Timberland store along Michigan Avenue after it was looted on August 10, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. Police made several arrests during the night as widespread looting was reported downtown and other areas of the city. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A window is shattered at a Timberland store in Chicago, Illinois after a night of widespread looting (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A wave of unrest in Seattle led to six police officers injured and 18 people arrested as demonstrators hurled explosives at law enforcement outside a police building August 18. Rioters reportedly tried to seal off the East Precinct building and light a fire outside August 24, according to the Seattle Police Officers Guild.

The Trump administration negotiated a withdrawal of federal troops in Portland by late August but the violence continued in the city even after federal forces pulled back. 15 riots were declared in the month of August according to the Portland Police Department.

PORTLAND, OR - AUGUST 21: Portland police officers push protesters past a dumpster fire during a dispersal from in front of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facility early in the morning on August 21, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. For the second night in a row city police and federal officers clashed with protesters in South Waterfront. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Portland police officers push protesters past a dumpster fire during a dispersal (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Wheeler repeatedly said “no thanks” to recurring offers from the Trump administration to send federal officers back into Portland, KGW8 reported. The mayor also blamed the president for inciting violence and told him to “stay away” one day before a Trump supporter was shot and killed August 29.

Kenosha experienced riots and fires August 24 after footage emerged of a police officer shooting Jacob Blake seven times in the back August 23. A resident cleaning up after the riots called the city a “complete war zone” after businesses were looted and a number of buildings were destroyed.

KENOSHA, WI - AUGUST 24: Demonstrators chant in front of a burning truck on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is the second night of rioting after the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on August 23. Blake was shot multiple times in the back by Wisconsin police officers after attempting to enter into the drivers side of a vehicle. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Demonstrators chant in front of a burning truck on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

September

Seattle continued to see unrest as members of a crowd threw Molotov cocktails at the East Precinct building September 1.

Rioters in Kenosha damaged more than 100 buildings, 40 of which were destroyed, and caused up to $50 million in damage through September 2, according to ABC 7. Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers told Trump not to come to the city and accused him of creating “divisiveness” in a letter. (RELATED: Kenosha Riots Have Destroyed $2 Million In City-Owned Property)

KENOSHA, WI - AUGUST 24: A police armored vehicle patrols an intersection on August 24, 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. This is the second night of rioting after the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, on August 23. Blake was shot multiple times in the back by Wisconsin police officers after attempting to enter into the drivers side of a vehicle. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

A police armored vehicle patrols an intersection in Kenosha, Wisconsin (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Michael Forest Reinoehl, a self-identified Antifa supporter, was identified as a suspect in the fatal shooting of Trump supporter Aaron Danielson in Portland August 29. He told Vice in an interview set to air September 3 that he “had no choice.” Reinoehl was later killed during a shootout with federal forces that same day.