fbpx

The week in brief

Our recap of the #BlackLivesMatter protests this week

It’s been almost 2 weeks since 46-year-old George Floyd died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for 8 mins 46 secs. Since that day, protests have galvanised support from across the US and around the world to form the largest-scale demonstration of civil rights action of contemporary times. We recap what’s happened this week. By Sarah Bradbury.

It’s not the first death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police. The US has a long history of police brutality, particularly toward black men.

But the video depicting his violent arrest, with Floyd able to be heard repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe,” has ignited Black Lives Matter protests in the US and demonstrations against systemic racism across the world.

Protests have proliferated across the US. Scenes of both peaceful demonstrations and further police brutality against civilians have filled social media. At least 9,839 people have been arrested nationwide according to CNN.

Forces in Washington DC fired pepper balls and smoke bombs to disperse demonstrators outside the White House, while Trump stood outside a church with a Bible in hand. A civil rights group the America Civil Liberties Union has since filed a lawsuit.

A memorial was held by George Floyd’s family in Minneapolis where it was said he was killed by a “pandemic of racism.”

Former President Barack Obama spoke at a virtual town hall on police reform. Addressing young people of colour he said: “I want you to know that you matter. I want you to know that your lives matter, that your dreams matter.”

Solidarity protests sprung up in cities across the globe. Here in the UK, thousands gathered in Hyde Park in London before marching to Parliament Square. John Boyega was widely praised for his impassioned speech: “Black lives have always mattered. We have always been important. We have always meant something. We have always succeeded regardless. And now is the time. I ain’t waiting.”

Another protest was held in Birmingham – check out the TMIK report by Michael from the scene.

Other public figures in the UK spoke out about how this is not just a US issue. George the Poet explained to Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight: “This is very contemporary…I hope this is a learning point for many people.”

The protests coincided with the Public Health England report which showed a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on minority groups. Others were calling for justice for Belly Mujinga, the ticket inspector who died of coronavirus a few weeks after reporting being spat at while on duty. The British Transport police have decided not to bring charges.

Further protests popped up in Norway, Mexico, South Korea, France, India and Germany. A demonstration in Australia has been banned due to COVID.

People across the world also showed support online. But a campaign originally started by two black music executives, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, calling on the music industry take out time for honest reflection with #TheShowMustBePaused, morphed into a social media-wide trend of black squares on Instagram for #blackouttuesday.

Many felt the original intention got lost, particularly with those tagging #blacklivesmatter, by drowning out black voices. People were encouraged instead to share links to make donations, put pressure on authorities for change or share resources to help people educate themselves.

Murals and dedications also appeared across America and the globe. Black Lives Matter was painted on the street up toward the White House and the street name changed.

The demands for justice seemed to pay off. Not only were the four officers involved sacked but now Derek Chavin faces upgraded charges of second-degree murder and the other three officers with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

They could each spend up to 40 years in prison. “This moment is a tipping point to change America,” Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said. “All the world is watching.”

Could this mark a turning point in dismantling systemic racism and the fight for justice for Black men killed at the hands of the police? And perhaps racial discrimination more generally?

If you want to know what else you can do, head to our guide on ways to support the movement and our list of what to read to educate yourself on issues of race, white privilege and the black experience. There are also further protests happening across the capital this weekend.

What do you think the impact of the movement will be? How else do you think people can support the movement? Get in touch with us at hello@theknowmedia.co.