Minneapolis erupted in protests this week over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed in police custody on May 25th.
After video circulated of Officer Derek Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee into his neck for several minutes, the MPD fired Chauvin and the three other officers involved, but protesters called for all four to be arrested and charged with murder. The tension over the incident escalated into clashes between civilians and Minneapolis police on city streets; on Thursday night, protestors set the MPD’s 3rd Precinct building on fire, forcing personnel to evacuate the area.
In the days since Floyd’s death, several prominent artists have brought attention to the situation in Minneapolis, calling for the officers’ arrest and for more action to be taken against police racism and brutality.
Early on Friday morning, Janelle Monae tweeted, “When will the majority of protests & outrage be led by white people & police officers everywhere? These are your people killing us. Why are OUR voices & outrage LOUDER THAN YOURS during these times? WE DIDN’T DO THIS. I’m tired of US HAVING TO DO THE WORK YOU SHOULD BE DOING.”
When will the majority of protests & outrage be led by white people & police officers everywhere? These are your people killing us. Why are OUR voices & outrage LOUDER THAN YOURS during these times? WE DIDN’T DO THIS. I’m tired of US HAVING TO DO THE WORK YOU SHOULD BE DOING.
— Janelle Monáe, Cindi Mayweather (@JanelleMonae) May 28, 2020
Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day made several Instagram posts about Floyd, using the hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #justiceforgeorgefloyd. On Thursday night, he shared a quote attributed to Will Smith: “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”
Living Colour shared a graphic of Floyd and retweeted calls for the Minneapolis DA Mike Freeman to arrest and charge the officers involved in Floyd’s death.
— (@LivingColour) May 27, 2020
Singer-songwriter Nika Danilova, a.k.a. Zola Jesus, has tweeted extensively about the protests in Minneapolis, declaring on Wednesday, “The murderers who took the life of must be put in jail,” and expressing disgust that Floyd was killed over suspicion of using counterfeit money.
Danilova is the cousin of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has sparked criticism during the protests for declining to prosecute Chauvin after his involvement in the death of another civilian in 2006 during Klobuchar’s tenure at the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office. Danilova has been vocally critical of Klobuchar’s policies in the past.
hang in there. get through this however you have to. lean on your friends. find peace. this is not normal, this is not healthy. we are a nation in decay.
— (@ZOLAJESUS) May 29, 2020
Tom Morello has also been vocal about the protests. On Twitter, Morello shared videos of protesters in Minneapolis explaining their motives, as well as a TikTok clip of a black cop criticizing the four officers involved in Floyd’s death. “This is straight-up unicorn shit,” Morello wrote of the video. “The kind of talk you never, ever, never, ever see.” Morello also called for fans to write and record songs about avenging Floyd, offering to play the best ones on his SiriusXM radio show.
This is straight up unicorn shit. The kind of talk you never, ever, never, ever see: https://t.co/PNGkRDOuzi
— (@tmorello) May 29, 2020
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) May 29, 2020
Cardi B made multiple videos defending the protests and property damage happening in Minneapolis. In her most shared video, she says, “At this point, I’m not against it, even though it do scare me, and I don’t want anybody to get hurt.” She expressed her frustration over incident after incident of police brutality being highlighted on social media — with hashtags, peaceful protests and other demonstrations in its wake — and barely anything changing as a result. Cardi also encouraged her fans to vote, not just in the presidential election but in local elections for mayors, judges and district attorneys.
— iamcardib (@iamcardib) May 29, 2020
Country musician Mickey Guyton spoke out for Floyd, while also calling for justice for the recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Guyton has been outspoken about her struggles as a black woman in the country music industry, and she shared a snippet of a new song, “Black Like Me,” that synthesized her thoughts on the recent incidents of violence against black civilians.
— Mickey Guyton (@MickeyGuyton) May 29, 2020
Elsewhere, artists reacted to President Donald Trump after he tweeted out “When the looting starts the shooting starts” — a declaration that led to Twitter placing an unprecedented warning above the tweet – as well as his characterization of the Minneapolis protesters as “thugs.” Taylor Swift issued a response: “After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? ‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump”
After stoking the fires of white supremacy and racism your entire presidency, you have the nerve to feign moral superiority before threatening violence? ‘When the looting starts the shooting starts’??? We will vote you out in November. @realdonaldtrump
— (@taylorswift13) May 29, 2020
Niall Horan tweeted, “THUGS ?? these people are protesting against the fact that one of YOUR animalistic white policemen kneeled on George’s windpipe and forced him to stop breathing and killed him?? THUGS???? Are you listening to yourself?”
THUGS ?? these people are protesting against the fact that one of YOUR animalistic white policemen kneeled on George’s windpipe and forced him to stop breathing and killed him?? THUGS???? Are you listening to yourself?
— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) May 29, 2020
Billie Eilish responded more explicitly on her Instagram story, screenshotting Trump’s original tweets and writing, “Are you fucking serius sic]???? Thugs????? Eat a huge fucking dick and choke on it.”
“EAT A HUGE F**KING D*CK AND CHOKE ON IT”
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) May 29, 2020