As of recently, every single one of the 50 states has participated in some form of protest. The Black Lives Matter movement has swept across the country following the death of George Floyd, even inciting peaceful protests in foreign countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, and Japan, to name a few. The message is clear: end police brutality against African Americans by making real reforms, or protests will continue.
For background, protests began in the wake of George Floyd’s death, where former police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for close to nine minutes, causing his death. Floyd’s family conducted an independent autopsy, and the cause of death was asphyxiation due to sustained pressure. The United States Constitution’s Sixth Amendment guarantees every citizen the right to a fair trial, but this right, and the right to live, was stripped from Floyd as a cause of our faulty law enforcement system.
Too little officers are held accountable: approximately four in 400 police officers are charged for killing; of these four, only one is ever convicted. I acknowledge that oftentimes, these killings are not against the law, and sometimes police officers must make split-second decisions to protect the safety of themselves and other civilians. However, too many stories have made the news of Black Americans being killed while posing no threat to police officers, and most of the time the officers in questions are not charged with any crimes. The law states that a person must pose a reasonable threat to others to justify using deadly force. With the help of videos and surveillance, we see that too often officers use such force without reasonable threat posed. This causes repetitive tragedies that stem from our failure to hold officers accountable.
These protests have gathered thousands of people every day. In some cases, police officers have kneeled with protestors; in many others, they have retaliated with tear gas, rubber bullets, and even police vehicles. Most protests have opted for a peaceful route. The small minority has turned violent: riots in Minnesota have caused fires and destruction.