George Floyd protests: Florida police officer suspended for pushing kneeling woman

James Crump
Protesters gather at Fort Lauderdale Police Department during a rally in response to the recent death of George Floyd: (AFP)

A Florida police officer has been suspended, after footage emerged of him pushing over a black protester, who was kneeling at a demonstration, following the death of George Floyd.

Officer Steven Pohorence was suspended by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department on Tuesday, after footage emerged of him pushing the protester over on Monday, when police clashed with some demonstrators.

The protest was mainly peaceful, but the demonstration escalated when around 1,000 protesters dispersed, and small groups broke off and sprayed graffiti onto walls and broke store windows, according to ABC News.

Police chief Rick Maglione told reporters that Mr Pohorence pushed the protester to the ground, after he and other officers rescued a colleague who was surrounded.

Asked if Mr Pohorence’s action caused the protest to escalate, Mr Maglione said: “I don’t think (Pohorence’s) action created what occurred.”

However, the police chief did admit that his action “could have added to what was going on.”

Mr Maglione added that one of Mr Pohorence’s colleagues, officer Krystle Smith, pushed him away from the woman, after he knocked her to the ground.

The police chief praised the officer and said: “She did what you are supposed to do: When you see either adrenaline or emotion or some kind of interaction going south...that is our job to do, is intervene.”

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis told reporters that Mr Poherence’s action was “offensive,” and added that he feels a suspension is the right course of action.

The protest was a part of demonstrations taking place across the US, following the death of George Floyd, who died after being detained by Derek Chauvin, who at the time was a Minneapolis police officer.

The protests, in opposition of police brutality against African Americans, started in Minneapolis, but quickly spread to Chicago and New York, among many other cities across the US over the weekend.

Police have clashed with protesters all over the US, and some officers have been filmed using excessive force, while some civilians have engaged in looting.

The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, a Republican, said that the National Guard will be deployed in the state in order to keep protests under control.

The governor said: “Florida has zero tolerance for violence, rioting and looting. George Floyd’s murder was appalling, and the Minnesota perpetrators need to be brought to justice, but this cannot be used as a pretext for violence in our Florida communities.”

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