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  • Mia Reynolds

The Message of BLM Keeps Falling on Deaf Ears

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

George Floyd’s name joins countless other unarmed black men and women who have been brutally murdered in this country. Of course, for those fortunate enough to have the privilege of not having to see themselves, their siblings, or their parents in the eyes of George Floyd (59 years old), Trayvon Martin (17 years old), Eric Gardner (43 years old), Nia Wilson (18 years old), Philando Castile (32 years old), or Ahmaud Aubrey (25 years old), it may be easier to turn a blind eye and revel in the comfort of ignorance.

But black people and people of color are not awarded this same luxury. Before we continue, I would like to clarify that for those who may not understand the magnitude of the situation, that George Floyd’s murder is not the sole cause of the current national unrest, but the breaking point.

It is easy to believe that in the year 2020, we are more educated and “woke” with regards to racial justice issues, however, many choose to remain in ignorance. A societal uproar erupted in the wake of the murders of unarmed African Americans, such as the killings of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray.

This uproar brought about the Black Lives Matter movement on July 13, 2012, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the murderer of Trayvon Martin. The movement garnered FBI attention after the 2014 murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in which the FBI labeled leaders of the organization as “Black Identity Extremists.”

The FBI essentially labeled the Black Lives Matter movement as a domestic terrorist organization, as it cites an increase in “premeditated, retaliatory lethal violence against law enforcement” and attributes its insurgency to the murder of Trayvon Martin as the “perceived racism.”

Instead of taking the concerns of the black community under serious consideration, the government instead chose to silence them, and failed to make any lasting change. Since no impactful changes were made, unarmed black men and women continued to be murdered despite the outcry, protest, and actions of the Black Lives Matter movement along with several other similar organizations. Whenever one of our own is taken away from us, the message of the Black Lives Matter movement falls on deaf ears.

Officers have not learned that black lives have value and that there will be consequences for their actions, just as the system has not learned that they are complicit in every life lost. So when George Floyd was detained and murdered by a police officer for supposedly forging a $20 check, many people felt that nothing had changed and that his life lost to systematic racism had been in vain.

To be clear, the George Floyd protests were initially non-violent, but police officers escalated the situation and began to use teargas, water hoses, and rubber bullets. There has been video evidence of undercover cops and white supremacists attempting to discredit the anger of the protesters. They do this, because they know that when black people protest, it will be seen as barbaric, but when white people destroy and burn their city after they win a football game, it is cute and charming.

Nevertheless, we have been protesting peacefully for years, but nothing has changed. It has become apparent that those in power have no interest in using their power for good or giving up part of their power for the safety of the black community. So, we must demand change.

There is no “right” way to protest. There is simply a more comfortable way. The government chose to disregard our peaceful protests for years, and now we have made ourselves impossible to ignore.

What people are feeling now is discomfort. People are now forced to think about the fact that George Floyd was suffocated for 8 minutes on video, and that the country does in fact have flaws. They are forced to see the difference between how armed white protesters were treated when they protested at the White House in comparison to how unarmed black protesters were treated.

They are forced to see the pain and suffering this country has caused black people and acknowledge the role that they have played in the demise of African Americans. And if this country cannot handle discomfort for a few days, then they could never imagine the effects of systematic racism.

Those who seek to discredit the impact of the protests on the basis of its property damage clearly value material goods over black lives. Everything destroyed is replaceable. Everything can be rebuilt. However, George Floyd will never be brought back, and his daughter will never have her father back. Many people only started to comment on the Black Lives Matter movement when they saw their precious Starbucks in flames.

On May 29, the autopsy conducted by the Minneapolis Police Department found that George Floyd's death was due tothe combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system.” However, Floyd’s family had an independent autopsy performed which concluded that his cause of death was "asphyxiation from sustained pressure."

The police department tried to claim that the reason why George Floyd could not survive being suffocated for 8 minutes was because of “existing health conditions” or intoxication. The fact that the police are somehow trying to blame Floyd for needing oxygen to live, only further proves the point that police are still not taking responsibility for their actions.

Meanwhile, police officers at the protests in Washington D.C. are using excessive force, turning off their body cameras, and covering their badge numbers with tape so that they cannot be held responsible for their actions.

Of course, the term ACAB or 1312 does not claim that at all cops are directly responsible for the murder of George Floyd. The term ACAB means that all cops are a part of a corrupt system that led to the death of George Floyd and countless others whose names we may never know. In America, being black or brown is seen as a weapon or an assurance that their safety is in jeopardy.

If police officers do not acknowledge how flawed the institution truly is, then they are all accomplices in all of the murders of unarmed black people that are committed by members of law enforcement.

History is repeating itself before our very eyes, and we have the chance to choose which side we want to be on. Even if these current protests are shut down, there will be others, and we will not stop until we truly acquire freedom. Justice and respect for black people in America is no longer a dream, but an inevitability. If America is willing to disrupt other countries for being unjust and undemocratic, why can't it hold itself accountable for behaving in similar ways?

Not being overtly racist while contributing and reinforcing systematic racism does not exonerate you from blame. It simply makes you complicit and a contributor to the problem. We have the right to hold our government accountable when it obstructs our rights and freedoms, and we refuse to allow our freedoms to be taken away quietly.

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