written by De’Airel Baker
When the civil rights movements were going on in the 1960s, there was a considerably smaller number of people participating than there is now. Then, there were only hundreds and thousands of people, today there are millions. Black Lives Matter protests have been happening throughout the United States. They began popping up as more and more people wanted to stop police brutality and all racially motivated violence that has been directed towards black people. When the protests first started they were peaceful, but some began to evolve into riots. As time passed, these demands for justice and equality have grown and become a familiar topic on all social media platforms.
“It felt empowering to protest with all the other people for a good cause, but it was kind of sad to think about the fact that we had to protest in the first place,” said junior Selena Maldonado.“It felt like I needed to protest because I need to use my privilege to stand up for people without it. Yes, I was scared to go to a BLM protest because of what I saw on social media cause I didn’t want anything to happen to me.”
BLM has been the largest movement in U.S. history, 3.5 percent of the population has participated in these protests. The first BLM march was for Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager. He was walking home from the store and was fatally shot by a man that was patrolling the streets who said “I shot him because I wanted to.” Every race protested in more than 100 U.S. cities.
“We started at the corner in Louisville and were standing around across the street from all of the national guard and police. We walked a few blocks chanting and stopped to kneel when traffic let us through. When I left, the police blocked everyone off and started to tear gas everyone.” said Maldonado.
Protests have continued for several weeks across the country, fueled by the demand for structural changes for defunding the police departments. Clarksville, Indiana had their own peaceful protest.
“It felt so amazing for protesting for my race and all the wrong things that have been going on in this world, During the protest, all we did was walk 3 miles, they gave us popsicles, water, and the Clarksville Police Department escorted us the whole 3 miles,” said junior Michael Nash. “I wanted to protest because I felt like that was the right thing to do and also our voices needed to be heard, I was not scared of what would happen if the protest went wrong or what I’ve been seeing over social media and all the other protest because I knew that the protest would not get out of hand.”
On June 20, 4 months ago in Jeffersonville, IN there was a group of protesters that marched through the streets all the way to a certain spot, and a man was killed at by the ISP. This march started with them having a prayer at a church. They wanted to send a message and that message was that everyone in the community needs to come together and that they are all Americans and that black lives do matter.
“It felt good to be out there protesting, it felt very empowering knowing that all these different races and ages from different backgrounds could come together and fight for what was right,” said sophomore Skye Howe. “During the protest, the media didn’t show what happened, but the cops used excessive force against us and had no reason to. We were down there peacefully protesting and the media made it seem like we were the ones being violent but it was the offices.”
There have been around 26,000,000 participants that have been in the BLM protests. There have been 14,000 arrests in all 49 cities since protests began. There was almost about $1.4 billion in damage from the protests that turned into riots. Over 40 businesses have been damaged. The difference between a protest and a riot is a protest is when there are people who are peacefully protesting and they want their voices to be heard, a riot is when people take that right and use it as another extent and they do damage to property or to people. Between the 24 of may and the 22 of August, there have been over 10,600 BLM events across the US. Over 10,100 of that BLM where peaceful protest and the 500 were riots. Some protests were peaceful but the news made it seem like they were rioting because of what the police would do when all they are trying to do is have their voice be heard.
“I went to a protest because it was the right thing to do. If there’s a group of people who need help everyone should come together and help them. I was not afraid to go and protest, the first I was nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect but not once was I scared because of the people around me protesting. The only thing I was worried about was what the cops might do to us.” said Howe.
Going to a BLM protest is a way to get everyone’s voice heard. To some people BLM is important. Although it may not be to all, someone has to speak up. In the protests, they say “we must stay woke” meaning we must know what is happening to us, daily. Knowing this will help keep us safe in this world from what is going outside our door and in our daily lives. During these protests, the people protesting for what is right need to play smarter not harder, and try to avoid these deathly situations that change our lives and the lives of others in a blink of an eye. How others see African Americans must be changed because it doesn’t matter what the color of your skin is, everyone’s the same, no one needs to be treated differently than others because of their skin color. We are in 2020 and it is time for things to change.