By Christian Ponce
The Black Lives Matter movement is a social movement that calls for non-violent protests in response to police brutality and racial injustice. While the violence against black men and women has been ongoing, the movement gained new momentum this past summer in response to the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
On March 13, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African-American emergency medical technician, was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison, and Myles Cosgrove. They performed a no-knock search warrant which resulted in gunfire exchange between Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, and the officers.
Walker said that he believed that the officers were intruders. The LMPD officers fired over twenty shots. Taylor was shot eight times and LMPD Sergeant Jonathan Mattingly was injured by gunfire.
George Floyd was a 46-year-old African-American man that was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 25 during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was handcuffed, lying face down repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” Though he pleaded for his life, the officer refused to move his knee and after a couple of minutes, Floyd died due to lack of oxygen.
The movement was back in the national headlines and now more people were showing their support by protesting, posting signs in residential and store windows, and even going so far as to tearing down statues that support segregationists, racists, and confederates. Even large companies and corporations are acknowledging racism and have committed to addressing structural inequities, including Nike, Twitter, Target, and the National Football League.
The movement also resulted in the Minneapolis City Council unanimously voting to dismantle their police department program in order to hold them accountable for racial injustice at the hands of law enforcement officers. School districts have also ended their police contracts due to the unregulated use of power by police officers.
On August 28th, the National Action Network held a gathering to declare their continued commitment to fighting injustice. August 28th was chosen because it was the 65th anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till, a 14 year old African American boy who was lynched by two white men. Till’s death brought national attention to violence against black people and fueled the civil rights movement.
The Movement for Black Lives, a group of more than fifty black led organizations, also hosted its virtual Black national Convention on August 28th where they revealed their plans to address police brutality and racism. Due to their momentum, the Black Lives Matter movement has stirred a cultural and political change in society.
The movement even put pressure on the Trump administration. Trump ended up signing an executive order that called for a national database on police use of force, in response to the demonstrations. However, it does not truly address the issues relating to policing. For example, the need for extensive training was not addressed and laws or policies to hold law enforcement officers accountable were not mentioned.
People do not deserve to be treated differently based on their skin color and certainly don’t deserve to be murdered for it. There have been far too many instances of violence against black men and women. Social change is required for a better tomorrow which can be done if the world learns to live alongside one and another and not be pitted against one another.