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Mass protests have been taking place all across the US after a Minneapolis police officer was videoed killing a black man. The man, George Floyd, was under arrest for using a counterfeit $20 bill. The video shows him being held on the ground by the police officer, Derek Chauvin. In the video, Chauvin is seen pressing his knee hard into George Floyd’s neck. George Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin and the other officers on the scene that he could not breathe. Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. George Floyd was dead for minutes before Chauvin removed his knee.

The killing caused outrage across the US. This is the latest in a long history of police brutality, particularly against black people, in the US. There have been protests after police killings of black people in the past, but this time the protests have been bigger than ever. There have been protests in every state of the US with thousands of people turning out in major cities across the country. In Minneapolis, protesters even took over the police station where the officers who killed George Floyd worked.

The protests against police brutality have garnered attention around the world. As protesters have been speaking out against the brutality of police, there have been even more cases of police brutality. There are videos of police attacking innocent people, shooting peaceful protesters with rubber bullets and even attacks against journalists. Journalists from multiple countries have been attacked, which has put police in the US under even more scrutiny. Videos of police brutality during the protests have been shared across the web each day and have made the protests even bigger than they were. In Washington D.C, the current protests are the largest that the city has ever seen.

In reaction to the brutality of police against protesters and journalists, protests have even spread to other countries. There have been protests in the UK, France, South Korea, Canada and many other places. International protests have largely been about the treatment of minorities in the protesters’ own countries, but also in support of US protesters. In Bristol, UK protesters tore down a statue of a local slave trader from the 1700s, dragged the statue across the city and dumped it in the harbour. The anger against injustice has reached a boiling point in many places. The actions of protesters around the world calling for the equal treatment of all people have been the biggest in decades.

Difficult words

Counterfeit (adj): Fake, not real.

Outrage (n): An extremely strong reaction of anger.

Brutality (n): Physical violence, great cruelty.

Garner (v): To gather or collect.

Innocent (adj): Not guilty or harmless.

Scrutiny (n): The thorough analysis of something.

Minorities (n): People who represent a smaller amount of the population.

Harbour (n): A place on the coast where boats may port.

Boiling point (n): The temperature when water becomes hot enough to boil or the point when a person/people get angry.

Activities

For listening practise, listen to the recorded article here:

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Match the Synonym!

1. Counterfeit A. Anger
2. Outrage B. Smaller group.
3. Brutality C. Guiltless
4. Garner D. Boat port.
5. Innocent E. Fake
6. Scrutiny F. Point of anger.
7. Minorities G. Gather
8. Harbour H. Analysis
9. Boiling point I. Violence

True or False?

1. Mass protests have broken out over the coronavirus in the US. T / F

2. George Floyd was an American police officer. T / F

3. People are infuriated that police officers have killed so many black citizens. T / F

4. George Floyd was killed when a police officer pressed his knee into his neck. T / F

5. George Floyd never voiced that he couldn’t breathe.  T / F

6. There is a long history of police brutality in the US. T / F

7.  This is the first time people have protested police brutality. T / F

8. Videos of police attacking innocent people have been shared online.  T / F

9. The police have not harmed journalists.   T / F

10. In the UK, protesters removed a statue of a slave trader. T / F

Unscramble the sentence!

1. US / taking / across / the / have / protests / Mass / all / been / place

2. being / police / the / by / him / shows / the / on / held / The / officer / video / ground

3. across / caused / The / the / outrage / US / killing

4. than / the / time, / This / have / ever / protests / been / bigger

5. protesters / a / In / Bristol, / UK / statue / down / tore

Listening and Vocabulary

Listen to the article and fill in the words OR practice vocabulary and fill in the words.

British English: Coming Soon!

American English: 

Particularly Peaceful Statue
Protesters Spread Videoed
Treatment Brutality Officers

Mass protests have been taking place all across the US after a Minneapolis police officer was (1)____________ killing a black man. The man, George Floyd, was under arrest for using a counterfeit $20 bill. The video shows him being held on the ground by the police officer, Derek Chauvin. In the video, Chauvin is seen pressing his knee hard into George Floyd’s neck. George Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin and the other (2)____________ on the scene that he could not breathe. Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. George Floyd was dead for minutes before Chauvin took his knee off his neck.

The killing caused outrage across the US. This is the latest in a long history of police brutality, (3)________________ against black people, in the US. There have been protests after police killings of black people in the past, but this time the protests have been bigger than ever. There have been protests in every state of the US with thousands of people  turning out in major cities across the country. In Minneapolis, (4)_____________ even took over the police station where the officers who killed George Floyd worked.

The protests against police brutality have garnered attention around the world. As protesters have been speaking out against the brutality of police, there have been even more cases of police brutality. There are videos of police attacking innocent people, shooting (5)_____________ protesters with rubber bullets and even attacks against journalists. Journalists from multiple countries have been attacked, which has put police in the US under even more scrutiny. Videos of police (6)_____________ during the protests have been shared across the web each day and have made the protests even bigger than they were. In Washington D.C, the current protests are the largest that the city has ever seen.

In reaction to the brutality of police against protesters and journalists, protests have even (7)___________ to other countries. There have been protests in the UK, France, South Korea, Canada and many other places. International protests have largely been about the treatment of minorities in the protesters’ own countries, but also in support of US protesters. In Bristol, UK protesters tore down a (8)_________ of a local slave trader from the 1700s, dragged the statue across the city and dumped it in the harbour. The anger against injustice has reached a boiling point in many places. The actions of protesters around the world calling for the equal (9)________________ of all people have been the biggest in decades.

Conversation Questions

Take turns speaking with a partner or try to answer on your own:

1. Did you find this article interesting? Why or why not?
2. Did you learn anything new from this article? If so, what?
3. What do you think of this story?
4. What is the opinion of police in your country?
5. What is the opinion of US police in your country?
6. Have you seen any of the videos of police brutality from the US? If so, what do you think?
7. Have any journalists from your country been attacked by police in the US?
8. Is protesting common in your country?
9. What is the biggest protest you remember in your country and what was it about?
10. What can be done to fix the problems with police in the US?
11. Are police in your country well trained?
12. Do you think the police who killed George Floyd will be convicted?
13. Are police in your country punished if they commit a crime?
14. Have there been protests in your country related to the Black Lives Matter movement?
15. What do you think about the Black Lives Matter movement?
16. Have you ever taken part in a protest before?
17. Is racism a problem in your country?
18. How are people of different skin colours treated in your country?
19. Do you feel safe when you see the police in your city?
20. Have you ever had to communicate with the police?