Most recently, you must have seen the vast groups of people take their anger to the streets all around the world. The constant reminder of innocent killings exasperated by the killing of George Floyd reignited the flame of protesting racism. Especially the younger generations took the streets in a pandemic to demand a better society for them to exist in. These demonstrations were spearheaded by the #Black Lives Matter movement to protest police brutality and systematic racism that overwhelmingly affects the Black community.
The #Black Lives Matter movement was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Three strong black women came together to spearhead a movement with worldwide reach. Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi formed the Black Lives Matter Network. Let’s acquaint yourselves with the case of Trayon Martin who was made into the statistic of people who were murdered by the police in the U.S.
Specifically, at The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, the teen had gone to visit his father’s fiancee at her townhouse. On the incorrigible night of February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman reported Trayvon while he was returning from the townhouse. Zimmerman reported Trayon as suspicious to the neighborhood watch. Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Hispanic American shot Trayvon Martin in the chest, several minutes later due to an altercation. This unimaginable death of a high school student was presented as a self-defense claim by Zimmerman, injured during the altercation. Due to the technicalities of the Florida stand your ground law, Zimmerman wasn’t arrested & charged. Mainly, due to national media focusing on the incident, Zimmerman was eventually charged & tried, but a jury acquitted him of second-degree murder and manslaughter in July 2013.
Mission of BLM(Black Lives Matter):
To fight this discrimination, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc. was founded. It is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada. Whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence. Especially inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes. They hope to combat and counter acts of violence. Mainly, by creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, they hope to win immediate improvements in their lives.
The George Floyd Murder Case:
On the 25th of May, a convenience store clerk calls the police as he thought he was paid a counterfeit 20$ bill. Christopher Martin, a teenage store clerk sold a black of cigarettes to a middle-aged black man. This simple transaction turned into the most harrowing brutal murder. The police arrived seventeen minutes later, a typical non-explanatory arrest of George Floyd was underway. Merely, based on a suspicion, a white police officer named Chauvin along with three police officers knelt down on George Floyd’s neck. In an effort to flag their egos, they proceeded to murder an innocent black man. The action of kneeling down on George’s neck resulted in his airway supply been cut off as well as rendered him unconscious.
Furthermore, the surveillance cam footage confirms the outrageous actions by the Minneapolis Police Department police officers who violated official policies. Even before the police officers attempted to arrest him, the fear of death was put into his soul as he said he was going to meet his mother who had passed away. This clearly shows that George already knew as the police arrived that he won’t survive. As Chauvin was kneeling down on George’s neck, George ached the words “I Can’t Breathe”. These words have no effect on the police officers who were committing a murder even as bystanders tried to stop them from doing so. Even though they couldn’t stop this atrocity from being committed, a video of the incident swooped the internet.
In the video, even after several minutes when Floyd had stopped speaking and for a further two minutes, he lay motionless and not having a pulse. Despite this, Chauvin refused pleas to lift his knee until medics told him to. Officially, the Minneapolis Police Department passed a statement. Basically, shrugging off any blame for the murder. And directing their mistakes that cost a man his life on the victim. The viral video recorded by a bystander went viral as they revealed the reality of the situation.
The Global BLM Movement:
The video had a lasting impact on people all over the world as what proceeded next was a global movement. George Floyd’s death sent shockwaves throughout the world and woke up many to the reality of police brutality and racism. The recordings of the reality faced by the black community ignited the power to protest. Everyone made use of the mediums they could to show their displeasure, anger, and resentment. Powerful and beautiful murals (protest art) propped up all over the world. From England, Canada, Spain, Germany to Syria, Ireland, Israel, and Kenya. Many artists & activists have used their respective mediums to mourn and honor the life of George Floyd.
These large works of protest art promote solidarity, remembrance, and commitment to the causes of equality, justice. Most importantly, the Black Lives Matter movement which is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation.
People from all the continents of the world: Africa, Asia, Europe, America, Oceania(Australia & New Zealand), and even Antarctica showed their solidarity. People have left their homes and taken to the streets amid the coronavirus pandemic. To honor Floyd, to stand against racism, and to demand justice for others killed by the police.
Image Sources: www.wikipedia.org,www.nbcnews.com,www.kansascity.com
The Power of Social Media:
Social media became a powerful tool to unite people worldwide to shed light on the black lives taken too soon. Activists, influencers, artists, community leaders, everyone who cared about the cause joined their hands together to say #BlackLivesMatter.
Loud & Proud, each and every space online was mobilized to cover the protests, donate to help their cause by selling merchandise. But the roar created & amplified online and in-person was met by pushback. The #AllLivesMatter hashtag started trending with people trying to covey that people of all colors and religions mattered. But the Karens( a term used to describe a person who is oblivious to the discrimination of the black community) were unable to understand why people had a problem with their hashtag. Mainly, as they rationalizing only made sense if the Black Community were treated as equal to them. But the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. The #BlackLivesMatter movement hoped to bring out positive change in policing culture. The police of predominantly Black communities are seen implementing policies based on the stereotypes constructed in their heads marred by racism.
The black square posts on social media quickly became viral but their purpose was futile. As a part of Blackout Tuesday which stemmed off of the original initiative #TheShowMustBePaused.It was created by music executives Brianna Agyemang and Jamila Thomas, Senior Director of Marketing at Atlantic Records. Even though the movement appreciated the global support online but what was needed is action, not a reaction. So, quickly the activists and leaders of the Black Community took over the social media accounts of celebrities to expand their reach.
If you followed any account that supported the cause, you could resources to support, donate and inform. A number of digital illustrators started creating a storyline of the cases still ongoing related to the cause. The information regarding the details of the cases was enough to see the injustices faced by the Black Community.
Image Source: www.washingtonpost.com
In Chicago, the residents of Englewood, saw the Black Lives Matter protest as an intrusion. Due to the presence of some looters and misunderstanding between the protesters and looters. The scenes of chaos ensued in other areas of chaos as well. Mainly, the police met peaceful protestors with chemical irritants such as tear gas and pepper spray, and kinetic impact projectiles.As a first resort tactic against peaceful protestors rather than as a response to any sort of actual threat of violence. Any means possible to harm the people who wish to stand up in the face of injustice. Similar incidents of brutality were recorded in Seattle, Denver, Philaphedia, Minneapolis.
Retaliation by police against civilians and the press was widely documented in the first wave of protests, but as the protests continued, so too has the violence. There has not been a single week without an incidence of police brutality against a civilian or a journalist at a protest in the US since the end of May 2020.
A staggering total of 950 incidents of police brutality were reported on protestors and journalists. It’s ironic isn’t it protest against police brutality is met by further brutality.
Changes in Policies:
Here are some concrete changes that were a result of the Black Lives Matter Protests. Within the 20 days that followed Floyd’s death, editors have resigned, statues have toppled, and police reforms have been announced in several cities across the US.
Four days after killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck during an arrest, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder. This was later updated to second-degree murder.
Currently, the trial is ongoing. With proceedings in their third week, testimonies from the colleagues of Chauvin fulled back the curtain of the blue wall of silence. With confirmation of the reason of the death of George Floyd confirmed to be lack of oxygen caused due to Chauvin’s knees pressed against his neck.
The trial also centered on black pain witnessed by the bystanders who tried to negotiate with the police while they were constricting an innocent black man with their excessive use of force.
The three other police officers who were at the scene when Floyd died have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
With calls to defund the police, Minneapolis lawmakers vowed to disband the city’s police department less than two weeks after Floyd’s death.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also pledged to move funding from the city’s police department towards youth and social services.
California, Nevada, Texas, and Washington DC (among others) have banned chokeholds and reviewed police reforms.
Democrats in Congress have also unveiled sweeping legislation on police reform, including banning chokeholds and forcing federal police officers to use body and dashboard cameras.
On top of this, a new database has been set up to collect video footage that documents police violence at the demonstrations across the country.
Another significant impact of the demonstrations has been the toppling of several confederate and slavery-linked statues around the world.
The demonstrations have also sparked wide-ranging conversations about the responsibility industries and organizations — including the media — have to address institutional racism.
Say their Names:
Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Micheal Brown, Laquel Mcdonald, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Samuel DuBose, Freddie Gray, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, Ahmaud Arbery, and many more. The endless list of Black men, women, and children being shot, attacked, assaulted, and wrongfully imprisoned for crimes they didn’t commit. This gives us an idea of the extent of damage and suffering that black families have endured for generations.
How can we help:
By taking action & joining the Movement to fight for Freedom, Liberation, and Justice by signing up for updates, supporting their work, checking their our resources, following them on social media, or wearing their official gear.
They need to see what you see. Black Lives Matter is a central target of disinformation and you are a key line of defense. Report suspicious sites, stories, ads, social accounts, and posts about BLM.
In conclusion, the #BlackLivesMatter Movement is a sign of the times as people are sick and tired of being oppressed and discriminated against because of the way they look, what they wear, which neighborhoods they live in, where they go to work, or where they choose to spend their off-time and relax. Remember change is possible when we are united.