Thousands Protest the Killing of George Floyd

Thousands+Protest+the+Killing+of+George+Floyd

Kaitlin Lee, Staff Writer

There are no words for the terror felt one feels when they watch the video of a black man suffocated by a white policeman with his knee on his throat for almost nine minutes. The man was named George Floyd, and he spent his last moments crying for his mother and begging for his life. He cried out a phrase too ingrained with black people’s connection with police brutality: “I can’t breathe.”

This video was the climax of a series of strong racial tensions that verberated through the country, after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. This led to the massive protests and rallies in cities like LA, New York, Minneapolis, Tokyo, and London, despite the continued risks of COVID-19. Not only that, but the issue has gone viral on Instagram with #BlackoutTuesday, and several celebrities, such as Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes, have joined in the protests. 

“It feels like it’s just been an endless cascade of hashtags of black people dying, and it feels like nothing’s really being done by our political leaders to actually enact real change,” said Christine Ohenzuwa, a 19-year-old who attended a peaceful protest at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. “There’s always going to be a breaking point. I think right now, we’re seeing the breaking point around the country.”

For the most part, these protests have been peaceful, as many have testified on social media apps like TikTok. As many cities have intensified their curfews, the protests have reached a sense of peace. During the nighttime on June 2, protestors remained in the streets undeterred by an 8 p.m. curfew, but most streets became clear by the morning of June 3. 

That is not to say that there hasn’t been violence and looters. Many businesses, such as Target and Dollar Tree, have been hit hard by looters who have taken advantage of the chaos. Unfortunately, many small businesses that have been hit hard by quarantine were struck as well, and the situation may worsen with curfews.

“This looting has made it even harder for us. There was already very little business, so we are just trying to survive,” Star Sub owner and Pakistani immigrant Asif Raza told ABC News

There have been condemnations of the looters from the peaceful protestors, including George Floyd’s brother, who said that the looting is “not going to bring [his] brother back” and his “family is a peaceful family.” Minnesota officials have also stated that many looters have been placed by white supremacy groups, prompting activists to encourage protestors to shut down any lootings. 

However, as previously stated, many of the protests have been peaceful. However, many activists have stated that police officers turned against peaceful protests, even after expressing solidarity. These images have gone viral on Twitter, from a young girl in pain after being pepper-sprayed to Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio being pepper-sprayed by an officer while trying to peacefully stop a conflict. A police SUV was spotted ramming into protestors in Brooklyn. A bystander who was walking home with groceries was struck with a rubber bullet and bled profusely. And there are many, many more instances of violence instigated by the police.

The most brutal image of violence happened in Lafayette Park in Washington DC. While a peaceful protest was going on, President Trump made a speech, declaring himself the “president of law and order” and calling for federal resources against riots which he deemed as “domestic terror.”

Despite having called peaceful protestors “righteous,” the President, through his Attorney General Bill Barr, ordered for police officers and national guards to attack the peaceful protestors in Lafayette Park with rubber bullets that five decades of research has shown can maim, blind, and kill people, and tear gas, which is not allowed in military combat. While peaceful protestors were attacked, the President walked over to St John’s, a bipartisan historical church, and had a photoshoot with an unopened Bible in his right hand. When asked whether or not it was his Bible, the President responded, “it’s a Bible.”

And even though the President has defended his photoshoot, saying that “the church leaders loved that I went there with a Bible,” many church officials blasted him. Right Rev. Mariann Budde who oversees St. John’s stated it was “as if it were spiritual validation and justification for a message that is antithetical to the teachings of Jesus and to the God of justice.” And even though the President has denied ordering protestors to be forcibly removed for his photo op, he still threatened “to invoke the Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that gives him the authority to deploy federal troops to respond to domestic disorder” (Politico). 

This is a terrifying tipping point for Americans, to the point that it was very difficult to stay calm and non-partisan while writing this. It is undoubtedly a dark period in our history, not only because of the murders of black citizens but because of the blatant usage of threats and violence by the president to suppress people exercising their first amendment rights. However, Americans must use their fear to power action: to protest, to speak up, to donate, to sign, and, eventually, to vote. 

 

Image Courtesy of KUT.ORG