George Floyd's death in the hands of Minneapolis police led to nationwide protests and pledges from some police to cut back on heavy-handed crowd control tactics. But that message didn't make it to Floyd's burial service, where local and federal law enforcement forces were prepared to use "deadly force" if they encountered civil unrest, documents obtained by Vice News reveal.
"As a horse-drawn carriage took Floyd's body to its final resting place" earlier this year in Pearland, Texas, "at least six 'sniper teams' were in place on rooftops and authorized to open fire if the situation spiraled out of control," Vice reports via planning records. Pearland officials also brought in U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to the city to monitor the situation. That included members of the tactical BORTAC unit equipped with "military-grade firepower," Vice writes.
The documents spell out the conditions under which certain types of officers could take action. "Officers in soft uniforms" were ready to monitor to "large, peacefully assembling" crowds, while BORTAC was "geared up ready to deploy" if "verbal aggressive language and empty water bottles" were seen. "Deadly force is authorized anytime," the planning records concluded. All of this was done in anticipation of tens of thousands of mourners showing up to the service, the records show. Just a few hundred arrived.
Ben Crump, an attorney for the Floyd family, said he and the family didn't know about the sniper teams and other oversight. Pearland police spokesperson contradicted the documents in saying the sniper teams were brought on in anticipation of "protests from Second Amendment groups or counter-protesters to those groups." Read more at Vice News.