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We’ve Tried Peaceful Protest, You Didn’t Listen

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Man in protest wearing mask with tear gas lurking.
Photo by ev on Unsplash

Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd. An unjust and oppressive institution — also known as the United States — murdered each of these young African Americans. The country you call home, the property you claim, the money you live off, — all of it— was built on the backs of African Americans. Ever since the ships reached the Eastern shores, the United States has marginalized and oppressed the black community. King stood to end the oppression — peacefully. Parks sat to end the abuse — peacefully. Kaepernick kneeled to end the suppression— peacefully. We’ve tried peaceful protest, and you didn’t listen.

What Happened Before

Breonna Taylor (March 13, 2020): Shot 8 times by police officers who wrongly entered her apartment.

Ahmaud Arbery (February 23, 2020): Shot and killed by a father and son who took the law into their own hands.

George Floyd (May 25, 2020): Murdered by cop playing judge, jury, and executioner.

What’s Happening Now

Each, Arbery, Taylor, and Floyd’s murders built up anger within the black community. But, on May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officers apprehended George Floyd for supposedly trying to use counterfeit money. An officer tackled Floyd to the floor and forced his knee down on his neck. The officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck for approximately 8 minutes, a majority of which Floyd was unresponsive. Floyd was pronounced dead.

Almost simultaneously, protests began in Minneapolis, with protesters demanding justice. Quickly the demonstrations turned to riots and soon spread around the country. In major cities like Atlanta, GA, Los Angeles, CA, Austin, TX, and New York City, NY, protests-turned-riots are erupting. I’ve heard all kinds of feedback about how riots don’t accomplish anything or how violence isn’t the answer. Or best yet, how MLK would be disappointed.

Police officer with a shot gun in his hands ready for the riots.
Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash

To these claims, I answer that we’ve tried peaceful protest and you didn’t listen. King is the epitomy of peaceful protests and look at how the country responded to those. King experienced brutal beatings, unlawful incarceration, and relentless public humiliation. That is what the beloved Martin Luther King Jr. went through on a day-to-day basis and look where we are! Still murdering blacks, still enslaving us to the prison system, still supporting an oppressive institution. After 400 years of oppression, what else do you expect? Slave masters kept their slaves uneducated, preventing them from organizing, and here we are still slaves to the institution, but this is what happens when the slaves are educated.  

Violence or Silence?

What else did this nation expect, you can only marginalize and oppress people for so long. Going back to the civil rights activists I previously mentioned: When King walked in protest, he was assassinated and ignored. When Rosa sat on the bus, she was imprisoned and ignored. When Kaepernick kneeled, he was cut and ignored. No matter what time period it is, no matter who the activist is, no matter if the protest is peaceful, the government doesn’t listen. But you can only ignore someone for so long before they do anything necessary to grab your attention, as seen in Los Angeles in ’92 and Detroit in ’67. But the riots of 2020 are different — there are unprecedented numbers of white people.

The Riots Aren’t Just Black

If you’ve looked at any footage of the uprisings or are participating, you’ve seen just how diverse the crowds are. It’s not only black people; it’s Asian, white, Hispanic, and Latinx people. Diversity is what the country claims to embrace, but it’s just now starting to come true. Asian, Hispanic, and Latinx communities can understand what the black struggle is like because each of these communities has experienced a struggle in one way or another, so by these communities allying with the black community, I’m not as surprised— proud, but not shocked. Meanwhile, the white community rallying behind the black struggle is a whole other story; in this case, I am most certainly surprised.

I believe that the era of social media and easily accessible current news is showing white people what it’s like to be black. Many white people never allied with the black community because they couldn’t understand why a police officer would pointlessly beat and murder innocent people. But lo and behold, once people began recording the incidents and the news became easily accessible many whites realized what was being shoved under the rug. I believe it is mostly the younger generations that are understanding and sympathizing with the black community.

There is change lurking in our community, and while I don’t participate in, or condone violent acts, it may be what we need to ignite the powder keg.

rubble on fire in the street as a result of rioters.
Photo by Pawel Janiak on Unsplash

Don’t Just Watch The News

If you’re like me, you are probably itching to get into the midst of the fight for justice. Maybe you can’t get to one, perhaps COVID 19 and health issues prevent you, or possibly they’re too violent for you. If anyone of these is the case for you, there are still ways you can join the fight for justice:

  • Sign! Sign! Sign! Go online and find petitions.
  • Peaceful Protests! If you’re like me and the violence of the major protests involves too much risk, try to find a vigil or a peaceful protest. (If anything starts to get out of hand always be ready to leave quickly)
  • Spread the news! Many people don’t care about the news, or don’t see the current events. So by posting on your social media, it may reach the eyes of someone who it may touch.

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