This news article was written for the student newspaper at my high school. Published June 2020.
Thousands of Americans have taken to the streets to protest police brutality, systemic racism, and respark the Black Lives Matter movement following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. on May 25 at the hands of four police officers.
The worldwide protests began with a video, posted on social media, of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, killing him. Chauvin has been charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. The other three officers, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng, have been charged with assisting and abetting a second-degree murder.
This devastating action, on top of a pandemic, set off a new wave of the Black Lives Matter movement, igniting the fight against oppression and racism in the US toward Black Americans.
Unfortunately, while there have been countless other murders and assaults on Black Americans and people of color, the current demonstrations see protesters asking for “no more police terror in their communities,” Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of the Black Lives Matter movement, told ABC. She knew that “at the core of what protesters across the country are demanding, is accountability.”
Almost all major cities in the US are witnessing people in the street exercising the right to protest. Most have been peaceful, many in the name not only Floyd but in the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Graffiti and looting, mostly by outside parties, have been undermining the power of the protests and what they stand for.
For some, the threat and police brutality has increased as they try to disperse mostly peaceful protests using tear gas.
On May 30 in New York, a police SUV rammed through a group of people, taking down the barricade and “propelling several protesters to the ground amid a harrowing chorus of shrieking,” described Ed Pilkington from The Guardian.
On June 1, after a week of protests, President Trump made a formal statement in the Rose Garden of the White House. He stated that he will “deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” Now that protests have reached all 50 states, President Trump urged all governors to use their law enforcement to stop violent protests and “dominate the streets.”
Despite differences in leadership across the country, the support on social media has overwhelmingly become a haven of education on Black history and anti-racism. Thousands of posts on Instagram and Twitter have allowed millions to learn about white privilege and issues around race.
Donations have been pouring into various bail funds, Black Lives Matter, and other organizations working toward equality. Petitions for the justice of every Black American that has died or been hurt at the hands of police brutality are constantly shared through social media, such as the story of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman shot in her home in March.
On May 31, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang organized the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused to dedicate June 2 to “hold[ing] the [entertainment] industry at large, including major corporations + their partners who benefit from the efforts, struggles and successes of Black people accountable” said wrote Thomas and Agyemang in an Instagram post. The hashtag became known throughout social media as #BlackoutTuesday.
While there were some complications with the posts of blank, black squares, people continue to share petitions and educate.
On June 1, North Thurston Public Schools Superintendent Clemens released a statement to staff, students, and families in the district. Clemons wrote, “As a public school system, we have a moral imperative to ensuring high outcomes for all students by removing [racial] barriers and predictability of success… This work is a journey and the more we build our own understanding, the more we can engage our students in unraveling this inequitable system.”