It’s been just over a week since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department. Since then protests have erupted all over the country against violence and police brutality that the black community has faced in this country since its inception.
It is another entry in the sadly continuing story of the fight against injustice in this country.
From Ferguson, to Rodney King and the LA Riots, the Watts Riots, the Chicano Moratorium, the Wounded Knee Occupation, the Stonewall Riots, the Kent State Massacre, and the many riots following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — to name but a few of the critical moments in modern American history — it feels like the fight not just for equality, but basic human rights in this country, is never-ending.
What is different this time is the sheer scale of this protest. There have been demonstrations held in every state of the country, and this movement has become global across: France, Japan, England, and Syria, among others, protesting in solidarity, coming together to stand against the injustices that countless Americans face daily.
Americans across the country are having to come to terms with the fact that so many of our government systems are failing them, and perhaps most disgustingly are seemingly designed to fail those most vulnerable.
After the disastrously lacking government response to the COVID-19 outbreak, not only for public health and safety but economic security, we now see how easily deployed an entire police force in full riot gear is. How easily convention centers are converted into military bases. We are seeing firsthand the results of the vast amounts of wealth being invested into violence by this country. How pathetic the government’s efforts of protecting its citizens looks in comparison.
We are starting to understand collectively how hard it truly is for the vast majority of the population to seek healthcare in a medical emergency. How financially devastating a sudden health crisis can be. How a health crisis on a national scale causes financial ruin to all but the richest in the same way it does on the individual level. How there are virtually no safety nets for those unable to afford it. How that lack of safety causes an almost inescapable generational spiral for families all across America. How little care is put towards helping the homeless, how insufficient mental health care is.
How that lack of infrastructure leaves people with no choice but to call the police and hope the officers that arrive aren’t in the mood to end another human life.
So much of the information of what is truly happening during these protests is only available to us because of the social media and the ubiquity of cell phone cameras. Were it not for the witnesses at the scene of George Floyd’s murder filming what happened, it’s likely that none of this would be happening now and George Floyd would simply be yet another black man brutalized and murdered by law enforcement to be added to the countless list of senseless deaths in this country at the hands of the police.
So much of this violence simply fell into silence in the past, and were it not for all the brave people out on the streets, filming everything happening at the protests, exposing how police are turning peaceful protests violent, listening to the police scanners and recording how flippantly they talk of shooting protesters or clearing paths by running them over, having the video evidence of people being run over or gored and blinded by rubber bullets, and all the other atrocities being committed by police across the country daily, simultaneously, hour to hour, it would be so simple for this moment to be silenced as well.
Remember history. Learn the facts. Listen to the message and truth of these protests. Do not be fed a sanitized, whitewashed version of the truth.
Martin Luther King, Jr., was not a man who simply delivered one speech about peace and unity after organizing one march before vanishing into history. He and everyone who fought for civil rights in the 60’s faced the same kind of violence from the police that we’re seeing today. He was hated by the establishment and assassinated. He stood for all the values being championed and fought for now. He was a revolutionary just as the protesters out now are.
This story is far from over, it’s impossible to fit everything that has happened this past week in a single story, but so long as people are out standing for what is right, the truth will be seen.