Civil rights run-down
By Alana Zuckerman
2020 was the year of change, activism, quarantine, and chaos. Before the year got kicked off, December 31, 2019, the Chinese government announced they were investigating an “outbreak of a respiratory illness in the central city of Wuhan.” As the first week of the new year went on, the United States declared its first travel ban warnings on China for American citizens. On January 20, 2020, the first case of coronavirus was brought into the U.S. by a 35-year-old Washington male. Two days after the first case touched down, President Trump downplayed the serious effects of the virus by tweeting “We have it under control, it’s going to be just fine.”
About a month and a half goes by before Trump declared coronavirus a national emergency on March 13, 2020.
On the early hours of March 13, emergency room technician Breonna Taylor’s home was raided by Louisville police under a “no-knock” warrant for suspicion of being a drug cache. Unfortunately, she was shot multiple times and killed by the police. After Ms. Taylor’s passing, police found no drugs in her home.
Fatal Encounters, a nonprofit that has gathered police-involved deaths data since 2000, showed that annually 1,100 people are killed by police forces across America. Unfortunately, in 2020 Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were victims to this.
George Floyd was a 46-year-old, black male who previously in 2007 was charged for armed robbery, later in 2009 being convicted for five years. Year’s past, Floyd moved to Minneapolis looking for a clean slate and finds himself truck driving and bouncing for restaurants.
On May 25, 2020, a local store worker claimed Floyd used a fake $20 to buy cigarettes. Police officials were called, and four officers were on the scene addressing one man.
As the officers were confronting Floyd, there was not much opportunity for explanation before officers collectively came toward Floyd. Officer Derek Chauvin had Floyd on the ground, restrained, with his knee on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, regardless of Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe,” Chauvin did not let up.
A medical autopsy concluded that Floyd’s cause of death was due to him going through cardiopulmonary arrest while he was being restrained, meaning his heart stopped beating.
Following this incident, the state of Minnestoa filed a charge against the Minneapolis Police Department to investigate discriminatory practices. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, his lack to comply sparked protests across the country, bumping his charge up to second-degree murder.
Black Lives Matter is a movement started in 2013 after the murder of Trayvon Martin, a black teenage boy shot based off suspicion. Simultaneously working on social media and in the real world, according to their website, “We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front.” Since 2013, every year after, the call for action by the Black Lives Matter organization has gotten louder and spread across the world.
George Floyd’s death was the breaking point of 2020 for Black Lives Matter. By the third week after the encounter, protests had spread to over 650 cities across America where people were demanding for justice for Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and police reform. A Pew Research Center survey showed that majority of adults were protesting to bring awareness to Floyd’s death and the longstanding tension between the police and black community.
Within weeks of the protests, reform was starting to show throughout the country. Louisville mayor Greg Fischer fired police chief Steve Conrad after hearing the things he let slide such as the no-knock warrant, and lack of body cameras on officers who fatally shot business owner David McAtee during protests.
In June of 2020, the Minneapolis City Council voted to require police officers to intervene anytime they feel unnecessary force is being used by another officer. The council also pledged to disband the police department and replace it with a new system. Mayor Jacob Frey’s home was protested in front of in efforts to defund the police, but he said he felt as though disbanding the police all together would not solve any problems. The Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo has ended negotiations with the police union to move towards “transformational” reforms. Arradondo spoke out saying “We will have a police department that our communities view as legitimate, trusting and working with their best interest at heart.”
While thousands of people took to the streets to protest, many others brought awareness through social media. Companies and politicians were pressured to publicly acknowledge the tragedies with goals in mind to defund the police in their cities and fight against racial inequality.
The beautiful thing about the generation we live now is the technology we have to share things within an instant. Companies such as Apple and Google have updated voice assistants to respond to questions such as “Do Black Lives Matter?” with responses with the intent of the movement and what is going on.
After the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Milwaukee Bucks basketball player, The Black Lives Matter movement even made it to sports. On August 26, 2020, the Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Bucks sparked a strike spreading across the sports industry in respects of the shooting. Events scheduled in sports other than basketball were postponed due to players needing time to reflect and bring light to the situation at hand. Phrases such as “Black Lives Matter”, “Equality”, “Enough”, and “Say Their Names” were printed on jerseys across the black of many NBA players in support of the events of 2020.
Black Lives Matter without a doubt will go down in history books for the work they have done in recent years to bring light to the social injustice going on in our very own country. The ideology of “All men are created equal” in our Declaration of Independence will only have factual meaning if as a nation we work together to stop the violence between our own neighbors.