The FBI on Monday posted to social media a request for photos and videos of individuals provoking violence during the nationwide peaceful demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd last week. But many on Twitter quickly began sharing video clips and photos of police cracking down violently on protesters.
“The FBI is seeking information and digital media depicting individuals inciting violence during First Amendment protected peaceful demonstrations,” the FBI wrote on its Twitter account. The post included a link to get more information on the bureau’s website.
“To help us identify actors who are actively instigating violence in the wake of George Floyd’s death, the FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting violent encounters surrounding the civil unrest that is happening throughout the country,” the webpage explained. “If you witness or have witnessed unlawful violent actions, we urge you to submit any information, photos, or videos that could be relevant to the case.”
Although it appeared that the bureau was looking for information on violent protesters and outside agitators taking advantage of the demonstrations, many social media users thought that the FBI should be scrutinizing the police as well.
“Here’s some,” Twitter user Jordan Uhl wrote, sharing a compilation clip showing officers attacking demonstrators and driving a vehicle through a crowd of protesters.
Many others shared similar videos and images. In some, an officer or officers attack a group of protesters, seemingly unprovoked. Other clips showed police spraying tear gas in protesters’ faces or shoving them violently to the ground.
Representative Karen Bass, a Democrat from California, even shared a photo of President Donald Trump, suggesting the FBI investigate his actions. “Found one,” Bass wrote in her Twitter post.
Asked whether the FBI planned to investigate alleged police brutality, a spokesperson at the bureau’s national press office referred Newsweek to the press release on its website. “We do not have any further comment,” the person added.
Mass demonstrations have taken place across the U.S. following the May 25 death of Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. A viral video of the incident shows white police officer Derek Chauvin pinning down Floyd, a black man, and kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd repeatedly yells “I can’t breathe” as onlookers urge the officer to stop.
Despite their pleas, Floyd stopped breathing and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital shortly afterward. Chauvin and three other officers have been fired over the incident, while Chauvin has also been charged with murder and manslaughter.
But protests have continued across the country, as activists point to what many see as systemic racism in policing nationwide. Although the protests have been largely peaceful, some individuals have turned to vandalism and looting. Some police officers have also responded violently in cities across the country.