George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police on the evening of Memorial Day, 2020 with four officers present, two of the police officers were using physical force to “restrain” Mr. Floyd to the ground and one was kneeling on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, ultimately leading to strangulation and asphyxiation that killed him in broad daylight. Several witnesses recorded the murder on cell phones while George Floyd begged for his life saying through a strained voice, “I CAN’T BREATHE!” The recorded video sparked fury across communities in the city of Minneapolis leading to an uprising of the people vs. the Minneapolis Police Department.
Citizens across the U.S. felt that we all had just witnessed a murder as the video of Floyd’s death started going viral via news sources, internet outlets, and social media platforms. Cities began to revolt in solidarity with protestors in Minneapolis and Black Lives Matter supporters. Protests quickly escalated from peaceful people to those coming from other neighborhoods with unrelated motives who began looting, setting neighborhoods and establishments on fire, and violence from all sides involved due to civil unrest, an unjust legal system, and possibly due to the recent pandemic forcing everyone to stay “safer at home”. President Donald Trump reacted to the rebellious acts by calling on our National Guard to prevent further damage by using weapons such as rubber bullets and tear gas against civilians and cities enforced curfews across the country. Citizens received curfew announcements directly to cell phones as notifications that were subject to change at any given moment starting May 30, 2020 at 8:pm in Los Angeles. The National Guard and police began enforcing the curfew by arresting those who were in the streets after the time being announced and certain cities weren’t allowing people to be outside of their homes in their own front yard. The authorities often carried assault weapons and were showing up in numbers driving down popular streets and in low-flying aircraft.
President Trump added fuel to the fire by sending a controversial tweet saying “… when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” The tweet was interpreted by many people thinking he was invoking the use of violent tactics by our forces against civilians.
The riots across America demanding justice for George Floyd have been a slow build over years of similar police brutality episodes on people of color with multiple incidences of black people dying by police force being recorded and unrecognized by our current legal system. The 4 police officers were finally charged and arrested on Wednesday, June 3rd after 9 days of national protesting. People began to properly organize the protest actions peacefully with unified demands of justice for victims of police brutality and defunding police departments to re-structure a system that works for equality. Victims like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have unfairly lost their lives to police who receive little to no consequence for their crimes. Meanwhile, white murderers like Dylan Roof, Gregory and Travis McMichael get peacefully arrested and detained with fair trials.
People who have had enough of racial injustices have gathered in masses to publicly exercise the right to protest and have organized large public actions through multiple outlets in cities worldwide. Civil rights have been infringed upon in many communities and people have had to take back their neighborhoods through peaceful and firm displays of solidarity. All 50 states have reported protests, statues have been destroyed and beheaded, marches in support of justice and Black lives, murals, music, silence, and dancing have all been utilized to show the unifying belief of our need for police reforms. It has been ugly and beautiful in so many ways.
“What a time to be alive. We are on the precipice of such change on all fronts. To see so much unity amongst all of our brothers and sisters of all races, nationalities and sexualities. This has been the greatest accomplishment from my 8 days of protesting. The passion [in the faces] of my fellow black, white, gay, straight or any identifying factor is enough to bring you to tears. Black Lives wont matter, until ALL black lives matter. Until that moment happens, we will march. I, will march.” – James Maple, Activist and Afterbuzz TV Host and reporter.
Our country is experiencing a revolution during June which is recognized as Pride Month in the United States. LGBT Pride month commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969 which signifies the importance of remembering how the past issues of our communities have forced change through action. Empowerment through radicalization is happening right now before our eyes and it is in our hands.