Protesters take to Sarasota roadways following George Floyd’s death

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Numerous protests slowed and sometimes stopped traffic on US 41 and along Gulfstream Avenue over the past week following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis.

For drivers from Longboat Key, Lido and around Downtown, it may have seemed an inconvenience, but for the protesters – sometimes numbering in the hundreds – it was a show of solidarity as similar protests were made throughout the country in demand for police accountability and reform and in remembrance of Floyd.

As is now known news, the officer involved in Floyd’s death, Derek Chauvin, was initially charged with third degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. A charge of second-degree murder, unintentional while committing a felony, was added Wednesday.

If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison.

Three other officers have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter and can also face up to 40 years.

In Sarasota, the protests remained political and civil unlike numerous other metropolitan areas where looting and rioting were present.

Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said he was struck by the fact that the activists were mostly young, and he said they were generally in their teens to early 20s.

Barwin was complimentary of the Sarasota Police Department,

“Led by Chief Bernadette DiPino, the sworn officers with the Sarasota Police Department have been doing an excellent job handling these emotionally charged, stressful and tense times with diplomacy, balance and understanding,” said Barwin.

Earlier last week, Florida Highway Patrol, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Deputies and City Police Officers knelt with protesters outside of the City Police Headquarters.

During one of the rainstorms that swept through the area last week, protest leaders, city staff and officers met to discuss reforms and policing practices and to listen to the activists.

A final autopsy showed that Floyd’s death was due to cardiopulmonary arrest.

The official Medical Examiner’s examination of Floyd concluded that the knee that Chauvin placed on his neck for more than eight minutes was not necessarily the direct cause of his death. That autopsy showed there was a presence of heart disease and a history of high blood pressure and a toxicology report found moderate levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

An independent autopsy commissioned by the Floyd family, disagreed with the County Medical Examiner. The independent autopsy stated Floyd died of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure.”

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