At 8:25 pm on May 25 George Floyd stopped breathing. Moments later his pulse stopped. It was two minutes before Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin removed his knee from Floyd’s neck. Less than an hour later, he was pronounced dead.
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Those who took part did so despite provocative police harassment. In the days leading up to the protests, the PSNI issued threats of fines and court appearances for breaking Covid-19 regulations. This led to protests in Omagh, Newry and Portadown being formally cancelled, although small and socially-distanced gatherings did go ahead. Protest organisers were visited at home and cautioned. Checkpoints were set up and public transport hubs were policed to prevent people attending.
Minneapolis now resembles a police state. The National Guard is occupying key points of the city with tanks and automatic weapons, including bridges and intersections which have been occupied by protestors in recent days. The Third Precinct police station is still smouldering, and the nearby 5th Police Precinct is surrounded by barbed wire and barricades. Thousands of volunteers are cleaning up the streets and most businesses remain boarded up, yet in an inspiring display of the deep solidarity that still exists, painted on top of the boards are statements of ongoing solidarity.
The announcement that the primary-secondary school transfer tests will proceed in the autumn is a source of anxiety for parents and pupils alike. School closures as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic have meant that the same level of preparation and teaching resources will not be available to those pupils scheduled to sit the tests. This is obviously a serious cause for concern, as the selection of secondary education is a major life event for young people.