The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) is one of the most discussed topics of 2020. After an African American teenager, Trayvon Martin was unjustly shot by a police officer in 2012, three African American women Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi started a social movement, which originated as a Facebook post, using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The goal was to campaign against racial violence, systematic racism, breaking it down further into police brutality, racial profiling, and racial inequality in the US criminal justice system.
How does systematic racism manifest in the current day and age? According to the national organization Race Forward, even though black Americans make up approximately 13% of the population, they only have 2.7% of the country's wealth. The median net worth for a white family ($134,000) was almost 12 times bigger than that of a black family ($11,000). Besides these examples, there are many others which you can learn more about by following this link: https://www.raceforward.org/videos/systemic-racism
As time progressed, the truths about systemic racism and police brutality started to gain more visibility to society through social media, which allowed the movement to grow from the first 500 participants in the protest of 2014, to a global scale protest on May 30th, 2020.
This is a good visual representation of police brutality across the United States: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/
There is plenty of good in the BLM movement. It has united people worldwide to protest and demand for equality among races; millions showed up to speak up on the injustice and to demonstrate solidarity. In the United States alone, multiple police convictions were made.
The four officers that took part in the death of George Floyd on May 25th, were fired by Minneapolis Police. Later on, all four were convicted of “aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.” Even though there are many more victims, George Floyd has marked the start of reforms and the call for justice.
The protests of 2020 have marked history where police are finally starting reforms within weeks of the initial protests. In Louisville, Steve Conrad, chief of police, was fired after shooting David McAtee, a black business owner. The body cameras of two officers on scene were not on, which is a critical detail since it is illegal for officers to turn off their body cameras. Without considering the horrific outcome of the case, the officers broke the law and went unpunished for a prolonged period of time, demonstrating the existing corruption in the police force. The “no-knock” warrants that allowed police to enter homes without a warrant were scrapped after the death of Breonna Taylor, a black medical worker, who was shot by police officers after they forcefully entered her apartment during a botched raid.
This is just the beginning of a series of changes. Statues and confederate monuments are being taken down, holidays regarding the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation are being created, major companies and celebrities are taking a stance regarding racism, and more.
THE BAD AND UGLY
There are many opposers to the BLM movement: it has been called dangerous, useless and meaningless. The protestors have been referred to as “thugs” and were called a number of racial slurs. Unfortunately, the disrespect and the fight against the movement doesn’t stop there. Every week, there are loud headlines of police violence and brutality regarding the protestors in the movement. In Philadelphia, officers beat the protesters with batons and threw teargas into the crowds. In New York City, police SUVs drove into the crowds. In Texas, some protesters were left with severe injuries and brain damage after they were fired upon with beanbag rounds.
This movement has been bashed by multiple people, companies, and communities, who have varied opinions regarding the movement. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIk_cZYgudQ) is one of many that shows protesters taking advantage of the chaos by breaking in and looting high-end stores, like Louis Vuitton resulting in more than $500,000 in damages.
Allegedly, during the presidential rally, supporters of former President Donald Trump were harassed, threatened, and thrown rocks at by protesters, a number of which ended up in the hospital with broken bones and concussions.
To create a better and brighter future, we need to speak up, we need to fight, and unite. However, there are always going to be people who will not agree, that will go against the flow, and will try to kick people down. To create reforms, people need to meet in the middle. Hate comes from both sides, and only through unity can a successful future be achieved.
In memory of the victims of police brutality:
Solidarity in the BLM protests: