Many have heard the chants of angered frustration from the activists of Black Lives Matter. This movement garnered international recognition in the summer of 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The social and political movement known as Black Lives Matter (BLM) advocates against all racially motivated crimes against black people. The movement began with a simple hashtag (#BlackLivesMatter) following George Zimmerman’s vindication in the shooting of Trayvon Martin. Since then the movement became nationally recognised for shining a spotlight on the cracks of the criminal justice system towards African Americans. Specifically, the deaths caused by police brutality.
With an estimate of 26 million members, Black Lives Matter has solidified its place in history as one of the most extensive moments in the United States. It has advocated government funds to be deduced from the police to black communities and reforming outdated police use of force tactics to put a stop to police brutality. It has also provided a platform to amplify black voices in matters of economic justice, LGBTQ+ activism and immigration reform. There are 800+ active petitions for several causes ranging from liberating the wrongful racial convictions to law enforcement to be nationally held accountable for their actions, starting with the systematic failure that caused the death of Breonna Taylor. The movement has even garnered support from American athletes such as the NFL as they publicly knelt on one knee during the national anthem in response to police brutality and racism.
Despite its roaring success early in the year, many media outlets burning passion for documenting the outpouring cries for justice have gradually begun to dwindle, rendering it one of the 2020s many trends than a social movement. The hashtags have ceased trending, and other viral news stories have taken its place. However, that did not stop the BLM activists from fighting for racial justice. Breonna Taylor’s killers were placed on trial. The former Kentucky police officer, Bret Hankison charged in connection to the raid and killing in Taylor’s apartment pleaded not guilty to three accounts of murder in the third degree by blindly firing ten shots in Taylor’s home. None of the officers involved in the raid and killing has been charged.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Taylor’s family, said in a statement, How ironic and typical that the only charges brought in this case were for shots fired into the apartment of a White neighbour, while no charges were brought for the shots fired into the Black neighbour’s apartment or into Breonna’s residence,”
The only form of retribution so far came from the Louisville Metro Police Department when they fired one of the three officers, Brett Hankison, involved in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.
The united front helped to push forward the other liberations in the black communities and levelling the playing for true equality. In the seven years since its founding, Black Lives Matter has racked up many accomplishments that have led to changes on a local, political and institutional level.
Starting on 4 June 2020 three officers – Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter of George Floyd. On 9 June 2020 former police officer, Derek Chauvin appeared in court for the first time. He was found guilty of the second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter by placing his knee on Floyd’s carotid artery for more than 8 minutes until he could no longer take a breath. This happened as his fellow officers stood idly by and simultaneously knelt on his back viciously displaying their abuse of power.
On Friday 5 June, the City Council of Minneapolis agreed to ban the use of chokeholds by police and now require officers to report and intervene unauthorised use of force by a colleague.
After a video went, viral of Two police officers being observed shoving a 75-year-old protestor, who was hospitalised with a head injury was suspended without pay and later charged with a felony assault.
Tuesday 9 June 2020 marks the day that London mayor Sadiq Khan launched a ‘diversity commission’ in which statues with slavery ties to be investigated and retained. Examples of this have already begun as a statue in London of slave trader Robert Milligan was extracted from the outside of the Museum of London Docklands. And to think, none of this would have started had not protestors in Bristol thrown a statue of slave trader of Edward Colston and thrown into the harbour on 7 June.
In June of this year, police have arrested a total of 135 people involved in the Black Lives Matter protests in the U.K. This number pales in comparison to our friends across the pond. According to the Crowd Counting Consortium, the racial violence by law enforcement has led to the arrest of 7,500 in the U.S. in May and June of 2020.
Though a number of actions enacted in the name of Black Lives Matter have been accomplishments, there is always room for more justice. For example, the sale of British tear gas, rubber pellets and riots shields to the U.S., like the ones used by police forces in the United States in riot control against protestors in Minneapolis.
There are so many ways that you can help contribute to supporting the Black Lives Matter movement despite it no longer appearing in popular mainstream media. Whether it is amplifying black voices on social media, donating money, attending protests or simply educating yourself and supporting black-owned businesses. Feel free to explore the links below:
Keira Brown is a Second Year Creative and Professional Writing Student
Photography by Maya Bond-Webster