Before you read further, please note that this is a developing story. All information is as of Wednesday, June 3, GMT 05:00. Information and visuals included may be disturbing to some readers. This is a difficult topic to address for some people and may result in some uncomfortable discussions.
However, at times of crises, such uncomfortable conversations with members of family and surrounding people are necessary. It offers an opportunity to learn and educate oneself, ignorance (both knowing and unknowing) is a huge factor of why problems as such have gone unsolved for so long. Silence, neutrality, and inaction is complicity.
Whether we like it or not, this year will go down in history, and will be taught to the future generations. It is up to us to do the right thing, and fight for the just cause.
This is a long article, please take your time to read and watch the videos and posts linked as it offers evidence and footage often ignored or not shown on mainstream media. I urge all readers to read and learn more about the different topics covered in this article from different sources which I will link below, and help as much as possible.
On May 25, 2020, a black man in Minneapolis was arrested unresisted under suspicion of forging a $20 note. A police officer put him on the ground, and kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Despite his bleeding nose, no resistance, and desperate out-of-breath pleading to allow him to breathe, the officer did not move. The man was pronounced dead at the hospital. His name was George Floyd.
Protests in Minneapolis began the next day after outrage spread like wildfire online with video footage of his death showing bystanders in broad daylight shouting at the police officer to let go. By May 28, a state of emergency was declared by Mayor Jacob Frey, and 500 national guard troops were deployed. Early next morning, CNN correspondent Omar Jiménez and his crew were arrested on live national television without any resistance despite identifying themselves.
On May 29, Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota imposed a curfew for the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. on Friday, May 29 and Saturday, May 30. And on may 29, the police officer was charged with third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. Major General Jon Jensen of the Minnesota National Guard confirmed that by May 31 noon , over 2,500 National Guard soldiers could be deployed which would be the largest national deployment in the state’s history. By May 31, it was 10,800 guards.
There were simultaneous protests in hundreds of cities in the United States and around the world, with demonstrators supporting justice for Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement, and fighting against police brutality. Cities with major protests included Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Virginia, Salt Lake City, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.
This image (sourced Wikipedia) shows all the states that have deployed the national guard to quell protests. On June 1, the President threatened to forcibly send in US military troops if states did not accept them voluntarily to suppress the rebellion.
Why now? What is the significance?
From London, to Auckland, to Tehran, to Syria, to Amsterdam, protests have gone global in support of ending police brutality everywhere. What started as a protest against systemic racism in the US, quickly exposed a history of racist treatment within nations around the world, all standing in solidarity and fighting the same fight.
Over the past couple months, the US has seen 100,000+ of their people dead from the COVID-19 pandemic, 40 million people are unemployed, and an all around uncertainty and inconsistency from their federal and state government responses. People are spending more time than ever at home, more time than ever on social media, and more time than ever seeing footage of people suffering and not being able to do anything about it.
The murder of Ahmaud Arbery by two white men for simply jogging on a regular day exposed to many people that were ignorant of racism towards black people about just how brutal racism is in the US. Video footage of Amy Cooper calling the police on a black man that asked her to comply with park regulations shows how people are not only aware of the racist behaviour the police have known to demonstrate, but weaponise it. By specifically saying and admitting that she would outright lie to the police and calling them to say that an “African-American man” is threatening her life, she actively took part in the functioning of a system of police brutality and systemic racism that has corrupted law enforcement tactics. As several people have been saying, racism has not increased, it is just being filmed.
The police officer responsible for George Floyd’s death will go unnamed in this article because it is not just one man, it is an entire system that has benefited off of racist behaviour, that has repeatedly abused its power, and refuses to change. All of this footage flooding social media, coupled with the effects of COVID-19 has enraged people across the globe, and has forced them to see the injustices within their own countries as well.
Trevor Noah does an excellent job of perfectly articulating how dominos fall to lead to such a rebellion and what could have been prevented.
“I don’t know what made [George Floyd’s] video more painful for people to watch, the fact that, that man was having his life taken in front of our eyes, the fact that we were watching someone being murdered by someone whose job is to protect and serve, or the fact that he seemed so calm doing it, you know? Oftentimes we’re always told that police feared for their life, it was like a threat, and you know what? … But now more and more we’re starting to see that it’s like, no, it doesn’t seem like there’s a fear, it just seems like it’s, you can do it so you did it.”
The dark irony in all of this is that all of these demonstrations are protesting police brutality, and all the government, and the police are responding with, is brutality.
Many people on social media are condemning the protests because of footage of violence, rioting and looting, which is the ‘incorrect’ way to protest. However, the reality is that many of the protestors are highly against such violence because it would only feed into more discrimination, where them fighting for justice is suddenly seen as an irrational rage spree rather than a calculated, strategic, long awaited need for change. There is also video footage of undercover police officers vandalising buildings and starting fires, as well as video footage of police officers in uniform laughing at anti-protestors vandalising buildings that they would later pin on protestors. There is video footage of officers firing at protestors that are completely non-violent shouting “hands up, don’t shoot”.
Furthermore, fundamentally, there is no correct way to protest. As Trevor Noah explained, when Colin Kaepernick took the knee during the National Anthem, people said that wasn’t the right way to protest and his career was ruined. When Martin Luther King marched down Selma, people said it wasn’t the right way to protest. MLK protested peacefully and was assassinated, Malcolm X protested aggressively and was assassinated. There is no right way to protest because that is what protesting is in itself.
When anti-lockdown protestors stormed a government building with military grade assault weapons, the police barely touched them. The very obvious different treatment of black protestors and white protestors is ever so evident and undeniable. There is also footage of black and white protestors being sorted in France. There is video footage of a black man kneeling, expressing his love for the police officers, and saying that he is not fighting them but fighting the system, being dragged away in handcuffs despite not posing a threat.
Despite the negativity, there is a lot of hope and prideful moments in these protests. There are pictures of white protestors recognising their privilege, and using it to protect black protestors by forming a barrier between them and the police. There is also video of a group of white protestors kneeling down, praying and apologising to black protestors for the decades of racial injustice after the end of segregation.
Remember, this is not just an American issue. Racism towards black people exists in almost every strata of society in many nations and cultures. Many of us unknowingly sometimes hold biases and prejudices towards black people without realising, such as not preferring to live near a family of colour, not wanting to be friends with black people or people of colour, assuming people of colour will steal from you, etc. Many of our unknowingly biased behaviour is an effect of institutionalised racism that we have been raised in, and that has benefitted off it. It is not enough to say “I am not racist”, you have to be actively anti-racist. And that begins in the household.
To those resisting these protests saying “all lives matter”, please know that this does not invalidate or prioritise any one race’s history of discrimination. This is about what is happening right now, who needs our help right now, and who is bleeding right now. If one house was on fire, would you want the fire department to go to every single house on the street first because they all matter? All lives do matter, but it is about black lives right now.
Moreover, for those that believe that accepting white privilege means that your struggles or experiences will be invalidated, no. White privilege is not accepting that you have not had struggles, or that you have not suffered, what it is saying is that the colour of your skin is not a factor that contributes to those struggles. You can use your privilege to help those in need, it doesn’t need to be a negative ego-hurting issue.
To all the people of colour that are hesitant to join in, or are unsure about what to do, change starts from within your household and your own behaviour. Notice and examine yourself, do you see yourself demonstrating colourist ideals? Do you notice family members making ignorant (both knowing and unknowing) comments about any race? Your own experiences of injustice and prejudice is not being invalidated and it is not being sidelined if you support them.
What can you do to help? Especially if you are not protesting, or are not in the US.
(1) Donate and sign petitions!
If you do not have money to spend, watch streams that donate ad revenues to those organisations!
(2) If you are unaware of the history of racism, or are unsure of what it means to be anti-racist, read articles and books, listen to podcasts, and watch speeches and videos.
(3) Have discussions with your family and friends about your own experiences, or what you haven’t noticed till now, and what you can do to change yourself. It is okay to accept that you had not noticed the impact of a behaviour and now you want to change it. Learn from each other. Just because you were born into an unethical society, doesn’t take away your responsibility to be ethical.
Here are resources to follow for live updates and more recent developments.
NY Times –