MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Department of Justice and FBI asked for help as they investigate the death of George Floyd.
Law enforcement officials said Thursday they want to reiterate to the community that they are taking this investigation very seriously.
“Our role in this investigation is to investigate allegations of willful violations of federal civil rights. The FBI team is following the path where the facts will lead us. We are conducting a swift, yet meticulous, investigation. In less than 72 hours, much work has been done, but I assure you there’s much more to be accomplished,” said Rainer S. Drolshagen, Special Agent in Charge, FBI.
46-year-old Floyd died on Memorial Day as police arrested him outside a convenience store on a report of a counterfeit bill being passed.
Floyd, a black man, was seen on video gasping for breath during an arrest in which a white officer kneeled on his neck for almost eight minutes. In the footage, Floyd pleads that he cannot breathe and slowly stops talking and moving.
Four Minneapolis police officers were fired for their involvement in the incident.
However, the city’s mayor is calling for more action. On Wednesday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey called for criminal charges to be filed against the officer seen on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
Floyd’s family wants the officers charged with murder.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI in Minneapolis said Thursday they were conducting “a robust criminal investigation” into Floyd’s death and making the case a priority.
The FBI had already announced that it would investigate whether Floyd’s civil rights were violated.
The announcement came a day after President Donald Trump tweeted that he had asked an investigation to be expedited.
Federal officials also say President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have insisted the investigation be a top priority.
Meanwhile, authorities are reminding citizens that peaceful protest is always acceptable, but encourage them not to continue to engage in destructive protesting.
Violent demonstrations that began Wednesday and continued into Thursday morning prompted the Minnesota governor to activate the National Guard.
Some protesters Wednesday night were seen looting and damaging stores near a police precinct and setting fires. Police are also investigating a homicide that occurred during the protests. Officers on the ground launched tear during the riots.
The last time the Minnesota National Guard was called out to deal with civil unrest was in a backup role during the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. The most comparable situation to the current disturbances happened when the Guard was called up to deal with the riots in Minneapolis in 1967, a summer when anger over racial inequalities came to a boil in many cities across the country.
The Minnesota National Guard was also called out during protests against the Vietnam War in the 1960s and early 1970s and during a 1986 strike by Hormel meatpackers in Austin.