What was the result of the George Floyd protests?

The George Floyd protests refer to the widespread demonstrations and unrest that occurred across the United States and around the world in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25. The protests began in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed and then quickly spread to hundreds of cities and towns across every state in America as well as internationally. They represent one of the largest protest movements in American history.

The protests were sparked by outrage over the brutality of George Floyd’s death as well as broader issues of racial injustice and police violence against Black Americans. Following Floyd’s murder, a video went viral showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes while Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe.” The video demonstrated the cruel injustice of police brutality against Black people in America.

Scale of the Protests

The scale of the George Floyd protests was immense, with an estimated 15 million to 26 million people participating across the country and around the world. After beginning in Minneapolis, major protests quickly emerged in cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington DC. While the majority of protests remained peaceful, some involved clashes between protesters and police or damage to buildings and property.

According to various estimates and surveys of protest locations and turnout:

– Protests took place in more than 2,000 locations across all 50 states.

– Major cities saw turnout ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. In Minneapolis alone, more than 100,000 people protested on May 29.

– Overall, an estimated 15 million to 26 million people participated nationwide.

– Protests also occurred in over 60 countries and territories in solidarity. Major international protests occurred in London, Paris, Berlin, Toronto, and more.

This tremendous mobilization represented one of largest movements in US history. For context, the 2017 Women’s March saw about 4 to 5 million protesters and the Vietnam War Moratorium protests in 1969 saw roughly 2 to 4 million. The massive scale demonstrates the great impact of George Floyd’s death and the powerful desire for reform.


The George Floyd protests rapidly accelerated after the initial demonstrations in Minneapolis following George Floyd’s death on May 25. Here is a brief timeline of key events:

**May 26** – After video goes viral of Floyd’s arrest, protests begin in Minneapolis demanding charges against the officers. Police respond harshly with tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against crowds.

**May 27** – Protests grow substantially in Minneapolis with lootings and buildings set on fire. Protests begin spreading nationwide to cities like Los Angeles and Memphis.

**May 28** – Minnesota Governor Tim Walz mobilizes the National Guard as unrest grows in Minneapolis. The “I Can’t Breathe” protests in New York City blockade major streets.

**May 29** – Derek Chauvin is arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder. Tens of thousands protest in Minneapolis. Major protests break out across America’s largest cities, with crowds in the tens of thousands.

**May 30** – Protests continue to grow across America, with the National Guard deployed in 15 states. Some protests turn violent, including clashes with police, vandalism, and looting. Curfews enacted in cities.

**May 31** – Continued protests and clashes on a large scale across US. Over 4,400 arrests reported nationally. Major brands close stores across 20 states over protests.

**June 1** – Peaceful mass gatherings in places like Philadelphia and New York. President Trump threatens to deploy the military against protesters. Tear gas used to clear protesters from White House area.

**June 2** – Over 60,000 march in Houston. Memorial for Floyd held in Minneapolis. Public opinion begins shifting strongly in support of protests.

**June 3** – Charges upgraded against Derek Chauvin and 3 other officers charged. New York City enacts major police accountability reforms.

The weeks and months following Floyd’s death saw sustained protests seeking policy changes, though with less unrest and violence than the initial protests. Demonstrations continued at a lower degree well into 2021 following George Floyd’s murder. The rapid expansion reflected the profound impact of the tragedy.

Prominent Features

The George Floyd protests exhibited several prominent features reflecting their unique nature and historical impact:

– **Broad-based participation** – The protests involved Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds united in condemnation of police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter. Surveys showed a majority of Americans supported the protests.

– **Youth participation** – Young people turned out in the highest numbers, with Gen Z (those born after 1996) protesting in particularly high rates. 85% of 18-29 year-olds expressed support.

– **Peaceful demonstration** – The majority of protests were peaceful, using marches, chants, signs. Violence and looting often stemmed from smaller groups and provocateurs.

– **Grassroots organization** – The protests were highly decentralized with local community organizing, in contrast to concentrated leadership in past movements. Social media was used extensively.

– **International solidarity** – Major protests against racism emerged in UK, France, Germany, Canada, and other countries in solidarity with American activists.

– **COVID-19 precautions** – Many protesters wore masks and attempted to maintain social distancing. Public health experts largely praised efforts.

These factors showed the wide-reaching outrage following George Floyd’s death and how protesters learned important lessons from past social justice movements to demonstrate in inclusive, peaceful, and safe ways during the pandemic.

Police and Government Response

Law enforcement officials and political leaders took a range of approaches in responding to the mass protests:

– Aggressive policing – In dozens of cities, police used tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray and other forceful methods to try to control crowds, often making situations more aggressive and chaotic.

– Curfews – Over 400 city and county governments instituted temporary curfews and restrictions on movements to clear late-night protesters from the streets. Curfews were met with more opposition as protests continued.

– National Guard – 21 states called up the National Guard to assist with policing efforts resulting in over 62,000 deployed personnel. Their role was criticized by activists.

– Violent rhetoric – President Trump and Attorney General Barr made highly controversial statements threatening violent retaliation against protesters and calling for domination of the streets.

– Reform promises – Following activist demands, some local politicians promised reforms like banning chokeholds, requiring de-escalation policies, and redirecting police funding. Actual results remain to be seen over time.

– Inciting fear – Some political and law enforcement officials tried to incite fear by exaggerating violence and property damage caused by protesters. Data showed 93% of protests were peaceful.

The often excessively violent response from law enforcement reinforced protesters’ concerns about police abuses and lack of accountability. It remains to be seen whether reform promises will lead to substantive policy improvements.

Impact on Public Opinion

The George Floyd protests led to major shifts in public opinion regarding issues of racism and police violence, as surveys showed:

– 67% of Americans expressed support for the protests, up from only 33% in 2017 for the Black Lives Matter movement.

– A majority agreed that African Americans face discriminatory treatment in policing and criminal justice.

– 41% supported reducing police department funding, up from 25% in 2014.

– Over 15 million posts using #BlackLivesMatter were made on Facebook and Instagram in the preceding 20 days.

– 65% of Americans said George Floyd’s death represents a broader problem in law enforcement treatment of African Americans.

– Major corporations publicly embraced anti-racist messaging in response to protests.

– Athletes and cultural figures amplify Black Lives Matter messaging.

This reflected a major growth in public understanding of systemic racism and police violence due to the protests. However, partisan divides remain on the existence of racism and support for protests. Republican support lagged Democratic support. Continued activism will be needed to create broader coalitions for criminal justice reform.

Policy Changes

The protests directly contributed to policy changes at the local, state, and federal level aimed at addressing police accountability and reducing excessive force, including:

– Bans on chokeholds and neck restraints – Multiple cities and states banned the techniques that contributed to George Floyd’s death, like California, Washington, Denver, Chicago.

– Restrictions on no-knock raids – Cities like Louisville outlawed no-knock raids with pending legislation in Congress named after Breonna Taylor, victim of a deadly no-knock raid.

– New use-of-force oversight – Cities like Philadelphia created new civilian oversight structures to review and restrict use of force by law enforcement.

– National database of police misconduct – A new nationwide police misconduct registry was created to prevent fired officers from getting rehired in other jurisdictions.

– Reforms from police departments – Local departments changed policies regarding de-escalation, reporting use of force, and interventions against misconduct, often in partnership with activists.

– Reduced police funding – A national defund the police movement led cities like New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, Philadelphia and others to cut and redirect funding from police budgets to community programs.

These tangible policy changes resulting from the protests represent progress in addressing the lack of transparency and accountability that enabled police killings like George Floyd’s to occur. Advocates argue deeper structural change is still needed to fully transform law enforcement and its impacts on Black Americans and other marginalized groups. The protests clearly demonstrated the power of activism to change policy conversations and priorities after decades of inaction.

Ongoing Movement for Justice

While the scale of protests declined from their early peaks, activists have continued organizing to maintain momentum and advocate for more transformative change in the following ways:

– Sustained protests calling for continued reform, like the 2021 commemoration marches marking one year since George Floyd’s murder.

– Movement expanded platforms focusing on wider issues of Black liberation beyond just policing.

– National debate shifted left on issues of systemic racism, white supremacy, and funding priorities.

– Policy platform released seeking federal legislation for broad policing reforms under the BREATHE Act.

– Activists trained in nonviolent civil disobedience and demonstration tactics to sustain resistance.

– Art, music and culture advanced movement messaging among younger demographics.

– Formation of alternative crisis responder programs as alternatives to traditional policing.

– Local electoral campaigns successfully challenged incumbent politicians and shifted leadership.

– Continued mobilization and coordination through social media networks and technology tools.

While facing challenges sustaining momentum long-term and countering oppositional narratives, veterans of the protests are organized to maintain pressure for change through new levers of influence and creative direct action. Though the pace of progress remains slow and uneven, the movement sparked by George Floyd’s death permanently altered public discourse on systemic racism in America and sparked tangible reforms that advocates continue to build upon and expand in scope.


The police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020 catalyzed one of the largest protest movements in American history. The enormous mobilization of daily demonstrations over weeks and months following his death reflected the deep pain and outrage sparked by police violence against African Americans. Captured in the protest chant “I can’t breathe,” the final words of both Floyd and Eric Garner killed by police in 2014, the movement gave voice to anger over the unjust deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement occurring since before the civil rights movement.

The diverse crowds of the George Floyd protests, rallying in every state despite the dangers of a worsening pandemic, awakened many Americans to the reality of systemic racism that activists had struggled to reform for decades. The massive public pressure generated swift policy changes at the local and state level, from restricting police use of force techniques to reducing funding from bloated police budgets.

Ongoing movement organizing continues to push for transformative change that goes beyond moderate reforms to fully address racial injustice in areas like criminal justice, education, healthcare and economic inequality. The legacy of Floyd’s death fundamentally reshaped the debate on policing and justice in America and gave new hope to advocates that public protest can ignite civil rights progress, even against deeply entrenched systems of oppression and violence. While achieving the lasting change demanded by protesters requires sustained struggle, the high-water mark of activism following George Floyd’s murder stands as a historic indictment of injustice that forever changed America.

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