By: N. Elmôr
The Black Lives Matter global organisation and movement began in 2013 after the murder of an African American teenager, Trayvon Martin. Their mission is to put an end to white supremacy and fight against the violence, injustices and systematic racism that black people face.
George Floyd’s murder on the 25th of May instigated protests and riots that swept the US and also took place all over the world. At first, the protests were peaceful, but soon the police began to tear-gas protestors and fire non-lethal rounds in an attempt to control the crowd. Some protestors also began looting and vandalising stores and buildings, declaring that they saw no other alternative and that peaceful protests would only go so far. Some of the more violent demonstrations have included protestors setting fires to buildings.
However, there have been numerous claims that in many situations, it was the police who decided to be violent in a peaceful protest. One of these incidents occurred in New York where a video shared on Twitter showed two NYPD vehicles ramming into a crowd of protestors who were standing behind a barricade. The footage shows protestors throwing objects at the stationary vehicle and refusing to move before the police officer decides to drive into them. In other cases, peaceful protestors have been attacked with tear gas and shot with rubber bullets for no apparent reason; only the polices attempt to getting them off the streets.
There are videos and photographs all over the internet and social media of the protests. While some of these do depict chaos and show the protestors being arrested or tear-gassed, many more show the unity that the movement has brought and the uplifting atmosphere amongst protestors. Together people march chanting: “Black lives matter” or “I can’t breathe” and stating that we cannot be free until we are all equal. Thousands of people have attended the protests, including celebrities, standing up against police brutality and racism. Some images show police officers displaying their support for the movement and helping the protests happen peacefully.
In over 40 American cities, curfews have been imposed after some protests began getting out of control. Many have questioned the manner in which President Donald Trump has dealt with the protests. Trump declared that he stood with George Floyd’s family and with the peaceful protests. But, in response to the riots and violent protests he referred to protestors as “thugs” and announced that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. When these demonstrations began to get out of hand in Minneapolis, Trump stated that if the “very weak Radical Left Mayor, Jacob Frey” did not get the situation under control he would “send in the National Guard and get the job done right” (this quote was posted on the Presidents official Instagram Account).
The death of George Floyd is not an isolated incident, being one more case of an African American being subject to police brutality and systematic racism.