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The Black Lives Matter Movement Fights for the Rights of Black People

 Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a social and political movement that uses nonviolent civil disobedience in the US and protests against police brutality and all racially motivated violence primarily against black people. Nonviolent civil disobedience means not being violent while protesting for civil rights and recognition. BLM protests were recently brought to world-wide attention with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah Mcclain.  

BLM protests restarted with Floyd’s death. On May 25, 2020, Floyd was arrested and suffocated by a police officer’s knee on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was arrested for suspicion of using a counterfeit bill. His killing was filmed by a bystander and his shouts of “I can’t breathe” sparked nationwide protests. This brought other recent deaths to attention, expanding the protests.   

These protests were sparked by deaths like Taylor’s and Mcclian’s. Taylor was murdered when police entered her apartment with a “no-knock search warrant” in the middle of the night while she was sleeping and shot her nine times. The police were searching for two men who were illegally selling drugs and lived in the same apartment complex as her. Mcclain was walking home after buying his brother an iced tea from the local convenience store. The police were called because of a suspicious person wearing a ski mask. When the police arrived, they tackled him to the ground and called an ambulance to inject ketamine into him. This led to his death three days later.  

Since the movement’s founding in Jul. of 2013 there have been many protests for the civil rights of people of color (POC). Most of these have been peaceful but few have become violent. This has led to some bad press for the movement, making the movement look uncivil. These protests are mainly focused on black people who have been killed by police. 

According to Jemima McEvoy of Forbes, “For the past five years, police have shot nearly 1,000 people per year, totaling at least 5,442 deaths from January 1, 2015, to June 30, 2020.”  The goal of the movement is to stop the racism that POC face from law enforcement. 

 “In 2018, the rate of arrests for violent crime was 3.6 times higher for Black people than white people,” Aubrey Clayton, The Boston Globe said. 

Police brutality is defined as police or law enforcement officers using extreme and excessive force on a subject which is noted as a civil rights violation. According to McEvoy, 20 people were blinded by rubber bullets shot by police and 19 people have died in the wake of the protests as of Jun. 2020. 

  “Defund the police” has become a common slogan supporting taking funding from the police force and putting it into other areas of public safety such as education, community support, social services, and housing. This saying has been used in protests, which have resulted in change. Cities like New York’s NYPD have taken 1 billion dollars from their 8 billion dollar police fund and put it into youth and social service programs. Another part of defunding the police is retraining police so there is less initial harm to suspects to ensure that people don’t have any reason to fear getting killed by the police. 

Many POC do not feel comfortable with the police. they feel they will not be held to the same amount of respect that white people would get. 

 “I do not feel comfortable calling the police in small situations because of the fact I don’t know who I could be dealing with and if that is the last time I’ll be calling anyone,” sophomore Mahalia Morgan said. “If I am dying I’ll call the police though because that’s what they’re supposed to be there for.” 

BLM protests restarted in Minneapolis and they slowly started to grow throughout the country even to the Bay Area and into Novato. These protests have brought many people out in showing their support in this matter by protesting, posting on social media and making murals or art pieces.

“To me, BLM means it is time for us all to address systemic racism and form a community that stands against hate and oppression,” Morgan said.

Courtesy of Melissa Schneider
At the Novato Black Lives Matter protest, A poster showing the phrase “I can’t breathe” was used to show support for the movement. 

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