New York City is one of the many states protesting “Black Lives Matter” throughout the streets of the five boroughs as well as in front of our very own Queens College.
The protests began shortly after George Floyd’s death on May 25, he was arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes which led to Floyd’s death. The people of Minneapolis rioted the day of Floyd’s death and it has led the Black Lives Matter movement to spread to the 50 states as well as other countries around the world.
According to the Black Lives Matter Foundation, “ [the movement] began as a call to action in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism.” The foundation was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer.
Savannah-Reese Denusta, a senior media studies major commented on the movement, stating that, “the movement is trying to tackle police brutality towards people of color, especially black people. The country was built by the literal blood, sweat, and tears of black Africans as well as other people of color that were enslaved.” Like many, Denusta has been using her social media platforms to spread awareness on “Black Lives Matter” as well as sharing petitions regarding injustices in the black community for others to sign.
Denusta emphasized, “The bigger picture of the movement is to demand justice for all the lives before George Floyd and to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Racism isn’t just exclusive to the police force, but in all aspects of society and culture in America.”
Before Floyd’s death, people were protesting the new rules of using face-coverings in public as well as staying home to avoid the spread of COVID-19 but there was no change to those rules. After Floyd’s death, protests began all over the United States and the rest of the world.
In response, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed the “Say Their Name Agenda” for police reform on June 5. Campaign Zero proposed the “8 Can’t Wait” project that pushes for eight police reforms that can reduce police violence by 72 percent, study shows.
Jarrett Newman, a senior English major, attended a protest in Massapequa Park, Long Island on June 4. Newman spoke on the subject of peaceful protests, noting that, “A peaceful protest in Merrick, New York proved quite impactful in that it occurred after citizens of the town initially met protests that happened before it with resistance telling protesters to, “Go West,” from the town to protest. It implied that they did not wish to allow protests to stretch further into Long Island and would rather keep it isolated to New York City.”
Newman voiced his concerns on individuals exploiting the momentum of the protests and movement, stating, “The protests are controversial because of the looting and damage done to places. The individuals that are committing these acts are also chanting “ Black Lives Matter,” shifting the narrative of the movement to an aggressive, violent approach. The peaceful protesters are now combating this narrative as they attempt to rescue their cause from the arms of crime and violence.”
Maggie Maguire, a junior majoring in photography agrees with Newman, adding that, “…It’s a sad reality that third parties, who have no regard for the movement, are using it as a front to snag the opportunity to commit these acts. The media did not hesitate to paint all Black Lives Matter protesters as rowdy and violent.”
At the end of all this, we should all be asking ourselves what we can do to help the cause. Police reform seems to be an issue that the majority of people share a consensus on.
According to Newman, the larger questions that loom over the protests is whether or not the police should be defunded and if there should be a potential change in the requirements for becoming a police officer.
Maguire optimistically notes, “The energy of this movement will never stop until there is justice and reform,”
Organizations that are accepting donations: George Floyd Memorial Fund, Minnesota Freedom Fund, Reclaim the Block, National Bail Out, Black Lives Matter, Campaign Zero, and many more.