‘We have the right to fight back’: Colin Kaepernick speaks out on death of George Floyd

Former NFL star Colin Kaepernick weighed in on the death of George Floyd, a man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee down on his neck for nearly eight minutes during an arrest over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

RELATED: ‘Please, please I can’t breathe’: Man dies after being detained by Minneapolis police, FBI investigating

“When civility leads to death, revolting is the only logical reaction,” Kaepernick wrote on Twitter. “The cries for peace will rain down, and when they do, they will land on deaf ears, because your violence has brought this resistance.”

“We have the right to fight back! Rest in Power George Floyd,” the tweet read.

Kaepernick, a former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, became the central figure in a controversy over his decision to kneel in protest during the playing of the national anthem at the football games in which he played. Kaepernick said his kneeling was intended to send a message about injustice in the deaths of African Americans at the hands of police.

RELATED: 'Do you understand now?': LeBron James says George Floyd's death is why Kaepernick kneeled

Kaepernick’s remarks on Twitter were preceded by Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James, who invoked Kaepernick’s name and his symbolic protest in an Instagram post Wednesday in the wake of Floyd’s death.

James posted an image on his Instagram showing the officer kneeling on Floyd, alongside a picture of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling before a game.

The picture reads, “This… …Is Why.”“Do you understand NOW!!??!!?? Or is it still blurred to you?? #StayWoke,” the NBA player added in the caption of his post.

Police around the nation and law enforcement experts on Thursday broadly condemned the way George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis police custody this week, was restrained by an officer who dug his knee into the man's neck, saying no circumstances warrant such a dangerous technique.

Deeply disturbing video shot by a bystander shows Floyd handcuffed, lying on his stomach and seemingly subdued as the officer trying to arrest him pressed his knee down on Floyd's neck for nearly eight minutes.

Some police officials and experts said equally shocking was something not seen in the video: Other officers on the scene apparently did not try to intervene even as Floyd repeatedly cried out that he couldn't breathe and moaned in pain.

RELATED: Michael Porter Jr. urges people to ‘pray for the police officers’ involved in death of George Floyd

Floyd, 46, was arrested Monday after an employee at a grocery store called police to accuse him of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. The cellphone video shows Floyd, who is black, face-down on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back, as officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, uses the knee restraint on his neck.

Floyd's head is turned to the side and he does not appear to be resisting. As the minutes tick by and Chauvin continues to hold him down, Floyd's complaints about not being able to breathe stop as he falls silent and motionless. Toward the end of the video, paramedics arrive, lift a limp Floyd onto a stretcher and place him in an ambulance.

Chauvin and the three other responding officers have been fired, and the FBI is investigating whether they willfully deprived Floyd of his civil rights. Chauvin has not spoken publicly, and his attorney has not responded to calls seeking comment.

RELATED: George Floyd, victim in police encounter, had started new life in Minnesota

Before he died after being pinned for minutes beneath a Minneapolis police officer's knee, George Floyd was suffering the same fate as millions of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic: out of work and looking for a new job.

Floyd moved to Minneapolis from his native Houston several years ago in hopes of finding work and starting a new life, said Christopher Harris, Floyd's lifelong friend. But he lost his job as a bouncer at a restaurant when Minnesota's governor issued a stay-at-home order.

Floyd grew up in Houston's Third Ward, one of the city's predominantly black neighborhoods, where he and Harris met in middle school. At 6 feet, 6 inches, Floyd emerged as a star tight end for Jack Yates High School and played in the 1992 state championship game in the Houston Astrodome. Yates lost to Temple, 38-20.

Donnell Cooper, one of Floyd's former classmates, said he remembered watching Floyd score touchdowns. Floyd towered over everyone and earned the nickname “gentle giant.”

RELATED: 'He was everyone's favorite everything': Family of George Floyd mourns his death

“Quiet personality but a beautiful spirit,” Cooper said. His death "definitely caught me by surprise. It's just so sad, the world we're living in now.”

Floyd’s death has been met with large protests in Minneapolis and cities across the U.S., including Chicago and Los Angeles.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz called in the National Guard on Thursday as looting broke out in St. Paul and a wounded Minneapolis braced for more violence after rioting over the death of Floyd reduced parts of one neighborhood to a smoking shambles.

Around midday Thursday, the violence spread a few miles away to St. Paul's Midway neighborhood, where police said 50 to 60 people rushed a Target attempting to loot it. Police and state patrol squad cars later blocked the entrance, but the looting shifted to shops along nearby University Avenue, one of St. Paul’s main commercial corridors, and other spots in the city. By early evening, the windows of more than a dozen stores were smashed, and firefighters were putting out a handful of small blazes.

RELATED: Minnesota governor activates National Guard to restore calm amid escalating unrest over George Floyd death

St. Paul spokesman Steve Linders said authorities were dealing with unrest in roughly 20 different areas.

“Please stay home. Please do not come here to protest. Please keep the focus on George Floyd, on advancing our movement and on preventing this from ever happening again,” tweeted St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.