Today in History: May 25, death of George Floyd
Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a Black man, was killed when a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for about 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and pleading that he couldn’t breathe; Floyd’s death, captured on video by a bystander, would lead to worldwide protests, some of which turned violent, and a reexamination of racism and policing in the U.S.
On this date:
In 1787, the Constitutional Convention began at the Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall) in Philadelphia after enough delegates had shown up for a quorum.
In 1946, Transjordan (now Jordan) became a kingdom as it proclaimed its new monarch, Abdullah I.
In 1961, President John F. Kennedy told Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.”
In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, ordered the Virginia county to reopen its public schools, which officials had closed in an attempt to circumvent the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka desegregation ruling.
In 1968, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was dedicated by Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall.
In 1977, the first “Star Wars” film (later retitled “Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope”) was released by 20th Century Fox.
In 1979, 273 people died when an American Airlines DC-10 crashed just after takeoff from Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander arrived on the Red Planet to begin searching for evidence of water; the spacecraft confirmed the presence of water ice at its landing site.
In 2011, a judge in Salt Lake City sentenced street preacher Brian David Mitchell to life in prison for kidnapping and raping Elizabeth Smart, who was 14 at the time of her abduction in 2002. A judge in Tucson, Arizona, ruled that Jared Lee Loughner, the man accused of wounding U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killing six in a shooting rampage, was mentally incompetent to stand trial. (Loughner would later plead guilty; he was sentenced to seven life terms in prison.)
In 2012: The private company SpaceX made history as its Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station. In Syria, more than 100 people were killed in one day in a cluster of villages in central Homs province; U.N. investigators blamed pro-government gunmen for at least some of the killings, but the Syrian regime denied responsibility and blamed rebels for the deaths.
In 2016, actor Johnny Depp’s wife, Amber Heard, filed for divorce in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences after 15 months of marriage.
In 2017: Surrounded by stone-faced allies, President Donald Trump rebuked fellow NATO members for failing to meet the military alliance’s financial benchmarks. Republican Greg Gianforte won a special election for Montana’s sole U.S. House seat a day after being charged with assaulting a reporter.
In 2018, Harvey Weinstein was charged in New York with rape and another sex felony in the first prosecution to result from the wave of allegations against him. (Weinstein was convicted of rape and sexual assault; he is serving a 23-year prison sentence.)
In 2020, a white woman, Amy Cooper, called 911 to claim she was being threatened by “an African American man,” Christian Cooper, who had confronted her for walking her dog without a leash in New York’s Central Park. (After a video of the confrontation was widely circulated, Amy Cooper lost her job with investment firm Franklin Templeton and was charged with filing a false police report; the charge was dismissed after she completed a counseling program.)
In 2021: The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden and Russia’s Vladimir Putin would hold a summit in June in Geneva. The family of George Floyd met at the White House with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on the first anniversary of Floyd’s death during his arrest by police in Minneapolis. Former Republican Sen. John Warner of Virginia died at the age of 94; the former Navy secretary was married to film star Elizabeth Taylor when he first ran for the Senate in 1978, and he held that Senate seat for 30 years.