By Nikita Shetty
Edited by Eman Hamed
“I can’t breathe,” The last few words of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man. He was brutally murdered by four Minneapolis police officers for using a counterfeit $20 bill. This situation has outraged millions of people across the globe and has united them in one common purpose: to fight for justice. The United States, a country that prides itself on a doctrine that guarantees 'liberty and justice for all,' is failing to hold its officials and workers accountable, and is ultimately failing to serve justice for George Floyd and so many others like him.
Unfortunately, George Floyd is not the first victim of police brutality: his death was the wake up call. Looking at the charts, in 2019 alone, the police only went twenty-seven days without killing people. Every other day of the year, someone was killed. Many of the victims were people of color, children, and innocent people who did absolutely nothing wrong. Not only do cops consistently kill people, but they also target people of color, especially the Black community. All of these are factors that have contributed to these protests.
So what exactly have these protests accomplished? It took all 50 states and about 60 countries outside of the United States to make some change in our society, but what has happened in the last nine weeks that displays signs of reform? Let’s take a deeper look into this question.
First things first, on May 26th, the day right after Floyd’s death, all of the officers involved in the unfortunate accident were fired by Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief. Although they were charged with third degree manslaughter, protesters weren’t fully satisfied. Breonna Taylor, another victim of police brutality, didn’t get her validity. Taylor was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department on March 13th, 2020. Her killers roam free and are out vacationing in beaches, acting like everything is normal when in reality, it’s not okay. In response to her death, Mayor Greg Fischer of Louisville passed “Breonna’s Law,” which suspends the “no knock” warrants, which until now, have allowed officers to enter people’s homes without any notice. However, it has almost been five months, but Taylor’s killers, Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove have not been arrested for their actions and allies are furious.
Protests have occurred nationwide, sparked by anger at George Floyd's death.
Aside from the officers, the protests have led to loads of popular companies taking action to help the Black Lives Matter movement. Technology companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon have donated up to $100 million to several minority communities and racial equality groups. Along with these big tech companies, many retail stores have also contributed to the Black Lives Matter movement. Walmart has donated about $100 million to racial equality centers. Target announced a $10 million donation in an effort to promote social justice through supporting societies such as the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum. Other companies who have shown their support for the movement include gaming companies like EA, Ubisoft, and Square Enix, clothing stores which include Etsy, Toms Shoes, and Levi’s, and food franchises like McDonald’s and Coca-Cola. If you’re wondering what this money does, here’s a quick explanation: associations such as the AALF and NUL use their donations to contribute to possible solutions for criminal justice reform and to build a just system for all. Links to their websites will be listed below, so be sure to check them out for more information! The listed companies have made donations to BLM charities and institutions, and have gained lots of positive attention.
Additionally, these demonstrations have had a significant impact on the many statues of confederate soldiers and leaders. Protesters are angered that confederate and slavery linked statues still stand present day. Confederate and imperialist statues globally have either been vandalized or taken down during the protests. Protesters in Richmond, Virginia used ropes to pull down a statue of Christopher Columbus, along with a vandalized statue of Jefferson Davis. In Mobile, Alabama, the council removed Raphael Semmes’ statue, an officer from the Confederate navy during the American Civil War. Although most city mayors claim that “Moving this statue will not change the past . . .,” protests argue that the vandalism and destruction isn’t to rewrite history, but rather to emphasize the fact that these white men fought for white racial supremacy.
Many people think that these protests are getting too violent, but the community has stayed silent long enough and it’s time for change. Our Black brothers and sisters are getting killed everyday because of the color of their skin. It’s 2020 and we cannot go on with our lives normally while Black people live in fear wherever they go. Yes, change can be difficult, but it is time society adopts a different mindset and new sentiment for the betterment of society.
Important associations & ways to support BLM: