NANCY Pelosi described George Floyd's death as a "murder" as she called for justice for the African American who died after a police officer kneeled on his neck.
Speaking on Capitol Hill on Thursday, the house speaker said the footage of Floyd's death showed "a murder on TV".
“We saw a murder take place before our very eyes,” Pelosi said. “So the fact that the police officers were fired, that’s one thing. But there has to be some justice in all of this.”
“We did see a murder on TV,” she added. “And it wasn’t self-defense.”
The video from Monday night shows police officer Derek Chauvin holding Floyd, a 46-year-old who was suspected of using a forged check at a deli, down with his knee on his neck and his other knee in the middle of his back.
Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe,” but Chauvin continued to pin him to the ground.
Minutes later, Floyd went unconscious and Chauvin did not remove his knee until the man was loaded onto a gurney.
The 46-year-old was then rushed to hospital where he later died.
A Minneapolis fire department report described Floyd as an "unresponsive, pulseless male," and explained that despite medics performing numerous checks on several occasions, they did not find a pulse.
Floyd’s cause of death is pending.
Protests broke out on Wednesday night in the city as residents took to the streets to demonstrate their anger at the death of Floyd.
Demonstrations started out peacefully before descending into chaos as cops used rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray.
Protesters had initially gathered at the intersection where Floyd died and at the Minneapolis Police Department's Third Precinct.
Hours later, the Lake and Hiawatha areas had descended into total chaos, with looting, violence and fires.
At least one under construction apartment block was reported to have been burned down – and a factory also caught fire.
Minneapolis city authorities have requested assistance from the National Guard as the unrest looks set to continue, reports KSTP.
Chauvin and three other police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death were fired, and Mayor Jacob Frey announced the decision as “the right call.”
“Being Black in America should not be a death sentence,” Frey wrote online.
“For five minutes, we watched a white officer press his knee into a Black man’s neck. Five minutes. When you hear someone calling for help, you’re supposed to help.”
He said of Chauvin: “This officer failed in the most basic, human sense.”
Floyd’s death is the latest in a string of racial events around the US, including the death of Ahmaud Arbery, 25.
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