Video of the death of George Floyd: what the image analysis says

Audio 25:55

Screen capture of the video of the death of George Floyd, May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis. AFP / Facebook / Darnella Frazier

By: Steven Jambot Follow | Simon Decreuze Follow

The images of George Floyd's asphyxiation death, filmed by a 17-year-old girl with her smartphone, have been around the world. With André Gunthert, teacher-researcher at EHESS, specialized in visual culture, we study what this unbearable video of more than 8 minutes says which is at the origin of the wave of protest which shakes the United States.


I can't breathe. I can't breathe.  " - I can not breathe.

On Monday, May 25, a 46-year-old black American man died when he was arrested by police in Minneapolis, the United States. His name was George Floyd and the video of his asphyxiation went around the world.

For more than 8 minutes, we see white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling with his full weight on the neck of George Floyd. These images are hardly sustainable. They are those of a "  homicide by asphyxiation due to the compression of the neck and back  ", in the words of forensic pathologists who carried out an autopsy of the body of George Floyd. The subject officer is now being prosecuted for "  unpremeditated murder  " , and the other three officers present during the arrest are charged with complicity. All four were dismissed.

This video is behind a wave of protest that has been shaking the United States for two weeks now.

André Gunthert is a teacher-researcher at EHESS, the School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, in Paris. His specialty is visual culture, the story behind the images. He is the guest of the Media Workshop broadcast on Sunday June 7, 2020 on RFI.

In a post published on May 30 on his blog , André Gunthert dissects the video of the death of George Floyd filmed by a passerby aged 17 years old with his smartphone. Everything is disgusting in this sequence,  " he writes, adding that it "  awakens the worst memories of the slave period  .

The video sequence, of more than 8 minutes, has been widely shared on social networks, seen tens of millions of times. It is symptomatic of our time. It is also a copwatching video , filming the police in public space.

We also come back to other images that emerge from the current mobilization in the United States. Those police officers who put one knee out of respect for the memory of George Floyd and solidarity with the protesters. This gesture is inspired by that of Colin Kaepernick , an American football player.

Finally, we note the exceptional investigative work of the New York Times , which returned on video to the images of the death of George Floyd. It is a must see.

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  • United States
  • Racism
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