The ongoing protests over police brutality, sparked by the death of George Floyd on May 25, got some support from black cowboys in Houston, Texas, on Tuesday. The cowboys showed up on horseback, sporting masks and t-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter as well as calling for justice for Floyd's death, according to ABC News.
Some were reported to be members of the urban rider's club known as the Nonstop Riders, who showed up in support of protesters, as well as Floyd himself, who grew up in Houston. Numerous images and videos surfaced online since their arrival, which earned resounding cheers from fellow demonstrators. Floyd was arrested on Memorial Day in Minneapolis after he allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a local convenience store. Protests first erupted in several major cities on Thursday, where they have continued through Wednesday.
In addition to their urban riding group, the Nonstop Riders also serve as a historical reminder that at least one in every four cowboys wasn't white, with a substantial number of that 25 percent being black. During the post-Civil War expansion of the American west, newly-freed slaves, or the descendants of freed slaves, would often land jobs as cowhands. While there was still discrimination, it was considerably less than other industries at the time, which meant they were considered equals by their white counterparts — generally speaking.
The riding group is one of many similar organizations, several of which were profiled by Texas Monthly back in March ahead of the Houston Rodeo. However, organizers canceled the annual event due to circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Protests began on Thursday following a now-viral video showing Floyd being detained by four officers in Minneapolis. One of the four, Derek Chauvin, was seen forcing his knee on the back of Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. While Floyd repeatedly said he couldn't breathe, he eventually grew unresponsive during the final three minutes, which ended up killing him.
Chauvin was fired from the police force on May 26, then arrested on Friday, the day after the first wave of protests, and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. On Wednesday, those charges were upgraded to second-degree murder. At the same time, the remaining three officers were also taken into custody and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder as well as aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.