The strive for justice and equality – Standing strong with the Black Lives Matter movement

A stance on why the Black Lives Matter movement is important.

Enough was enough four centuries ago when the exploitation of slavery began to take the lives of countless African Americans. The injustices that America has documented over the years can’t continue in a world where peace, love and equality on all fronts must come to fruition.

The very same goes for the undocumented murders and incidents in which brutality and racism spread. Now is the time to stand for human rights for all peoples and end racism as a country, starting by teaching love instead of hatred, peace instead of violence and equality instead of injustice.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” wrote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his Letter from Birmingham Jail.

Amidst a global pandemic, America has experienced productive protests over the murder of George Floyd, an African American man who, according to reports, allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since the day he was murdered by Minneapolis Police Department officers, outrage has been sparked repeatedly by systemic racism and police brutality with protestors standing for justice across all 50 states and countries like the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

African Americans have been in the position of protests against inequality thousands of times, and racism continues in a country that claims to stand for equality. If America is supposed to be the Land of the Free, then why has racism continued through the years? It oppresses those who feel that they truly have no freedom, those who fear every day for their own lives based on the color of their skin.

Racism runs deep into the structure and institutions of America; examining this civil rights issue on a surface level has never been enough to combat racism within communities. Systemic racism in housing with redlining and blockbusting along with the fight for desegregation in schools are only three of the number of issues African Americans have faced during historic and current times.

Oppressing and murderous groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, still exist today–they were never snuffed out during the Civil Rights Movement or the moments after it.

In truth, the Civil Rights Movement has never come to an end.

Police brutality is older than the Civil Rights Movement itself. Student-led peaceful protests and demonstrations led by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) were interrupted by the police force and members of the National Guard on a number of occasions in places like Birmingham, Alabama during the 1960s.

More recent cases of police brutality provide proof that racism continues to be a problem in America.

The case of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri brought forth protests within the following week to end police brutality. He was unarmed at the time of the incident; fatally shot by 28-year-old police officer Darren Wilson on Aug. 9, 2014.

John Crawford, 22, was holding a toy BB gun at a Walmart in Beavercreek, Ohio on Aug. 5, 2014 when he was shot and killed by police officer Sean Williams, who was never charged. In a similar case, 12-year-old Tamir Rice’s toy gun was also mistaken for a real weapon on Nov. 22, 2014; he was shot and killed by Cleveland police officer Timothy Loehmann while officer Frank Garmback stood as backup.

African American women have also faced police brutality in recent years. Breonna Taylor, 26, was fatally shot by officers Jonathan Mattingly, Brett Hankison and Myles Cosgrove Jonathan of the Louisville Metro Police Department in Kentucky. The officers entered her apartment with a warrant without knocking on the door on March 13, 2020.

Miriam Carey, 34, was unarmed and driving with her one-year-old in the backseat when she came upon a security checkpoint in Washington D.C. She made a U-turn and was followed by police, who shot her in the back of the head on Oct. 3, 2013. Her daughter was still in the vehicle when she was killed.

George Floyd, 46, was unarmed and hadn’t resisted arrest. His final moments were characterized by the words “I can’t breathe,” while officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, causing asphyxiation and cardiac arrest.

Case updates suggest that Chauvin’s charges have been changed to second-degree, unintentional, murder while he committed a felony. The officers who also applied restraining pressure with their knees and body weight, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, have been charged with aiding and abetting a second-degree murder and manslaughter, along with officer Tou Thao who stood by and watched the murder unfold.

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Protesters in alliance with the Black Lives Matter movement assemble (Teresa Josten Photo Credit).

Standing with peaceful protestors for justice regarding Floyd’s murder and standing against racism and police brutality; these are some of the most important topics of today’s world. No longer can we let these issues disappear into thin air and act like they never happened, because these people matter every second of every day—not just when it’s a trend across media platforms.

America has a dark history, and it’s important to recognize that society was built on the hard-working backs of African Americans. In no way can this country ever apologize enough to make up for the horrors inflicted upon them, though all generations can repent racist ideas and slowly cleanse themselves of injustice, starting with even the smallest changes to make a difference.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” said Dr. King during a speech in 1963.

Peaceful and nonviolent protests were the main tactics used by leaders like Gandhi and Dr. King, especially during the Civil Rights Movement, and a number of their statements about ending racial inequality hold true today. Remembering their lives among countless others who have been murdered, slaughtered or assassinated at the hands of racists makes the heart of the Civil Rights Movement beat once more.

Peaceful protests have been interrupted by groups or individual peoples who began rioting and looting stores, with multiple cities calling for emergency curfews as a response to the unrest. Journalists on the ground control the narrative of the story following the death of Floyd, and news coverage certainly has its influence over viewers. There’s been an increasing number of coverages on those riots, skewing the overall message of protesting in the name of Mr. Floyd.

“Systemic racism is something that diminishes all of us. Of course its worst effects are for its victims, but our entire country is held back through the inequality and the mistrust that it creates,” said Pette Buttigieg, an American politician during an interview for CBS news.

No longer should these Americans have to wait for a safer world. They should never have waited in the first place; it’s up to the people of America to call to action, be the change, and keep their statements from becoming swept under the rug of structural racism and white supremacy.

While countless important issues will still be left unsaid or unheard, it’s detrimental to the meaning of these protests to uplift voices and spread the message for those who have continually been affected by racism throughout the centuries. Watching thousands of Americans stand for justice by using their constitutional right to protest unjust policies or actions is a true representation of growing unity and solidarity.

The Black Lives Matter movement doesn’t invalidate the lives of other individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. It stands for awareness and the need for change; the change that will allow African Americans to feel safe.

As Americans we must honor the fight against racism with everything that we have, for it’s written in our Constitution that all men are created equal.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Elissa Blankenship

The strive for justice and equality – Standing strong with the Black Lives Matter movement

by Elissa Blankenship time to read: 5 min