After the devastating video of George Floyd's killing surfaced last week, the country has been mourning the loss of yet another black American who died at the hands of the police. Police brutality has long been an openly violent facet of systemic racism in the United States, and black men, women, and children have too often been killed or maimed by those meant to protect and serve all Americans.
As a white woman, I acknowledge that my white privilege has always protected me from the hate crimes and violence inflicted by police officers on innocent, unarmed black men, women, and children, so I feel as though it is my responsibility to not only educate myself on the ways that systemic racism is constantly working to keep black Americans oppressed so that I can fight against those racist institutions — but also so that I may use my voice and privilege to be an ally to the black community and the Black Lives Matter movement.
After watching coverage of the protests on social media and local and national news, I have seen a shocking disparity between the information that comes from protestors themselves and the information that comes from mainstream media.
Although there are incredibly powerful peaceful demonstrations taking place all over the country in order to honor the memory of George Floyd, to demand justice for him and so many others whose lives were lost without justice being served, and to revitalize the Black Lives Matter movement, mainstream media has chosen to focus primarily on the most destructive and easily manipulated content of these protests rather than show the other side.
Below are several peaceful moments that the media should be talking about.
Massive peaceful march in Chicago, IL (from @SaidSarkic)
Incredible view of the #chicagoprotest #BLACK_LIVES_MATTER #GeorgeFloydProtests https://t.co/KSB1apW2hV— Said Sarkic (@Said Sarkic) 1590886399.0
This video, posted at 7:53 p.m. on May 30, 2020, shows hundreds of peaceful protestors marching through downtown Chicago. The local Chicago news I've seen has predominantly focused on damage inflicted on Michigan Avenue rather than share content that shows the peaceful, productive elements of protests in the downtown area.
Moment of silence in Minneapolis, MN (from @killerbeemma)
Peaceful protest in Minneapolis. Share this. Post this. It’s not exciting, it’s not shocking, but it is POWERFUL. https://t.co/tOIjXrPyJJ— Bi Nguyen “killer bee” (@Bi Nguyen “killer bee”) 1590901824.0
This video, posted at 12:10 a.m. on May 31, 2020, shows a large crowd of peaceful protestors taking a moment of silence and proceeding by calling out, "Say his name: George Floyd." The majority of the coverage on Minneapolis I've seen again focuses on how the city has been "destroyed" by protestors. To view images of locals cleaning up South Minneapolis on May 28, 2020, go here.
Dancing in Newark, NJ (from @frostyTheSkid)
Put this on the news. https://t.co/YfXB2x6bcz— Frosty (@Frosty) 1590874205.0
This video, posted at 4:30 p.m. on May 30, 2020, shows a crowd of protestors peacefully dancing in the streets in Newark. In the video, protestors hold signs with messages such as "Black Lives Matter" and "I Am Not A Threat" as they dance. Later on in the video, you can hear protestors talking about how "The news ain't gonna show this."
Additional videos of peaceful protests: Minneapolis, Minneapolis, Chicago, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta.
In addition to the strikingly sensitive, peaceful moments, there has been an appalling amount of violence taking place at many protests around the country. It is important to recognize, however, that the violence in many instances is being instigated by the police officers in attendance rather than the protestors.
Below are several violent moments that the media should be talking about.
Content warning: the following videos show graphic violence.
Police officers use tear gas and physically harm peaceful protestors in Omaha NE (from @Jonnykip21)
In this video, posted at 8:58 p.m. on May 29, 2020, a line of protestors is sitting peacefully on a street when they are met with a line of officers who use tear gas against them, physically push them, and shoot them with rubber bullets from point-blank range. The audio of the video does not reveal any communication on behalf of the police in which they might have been asking protestors to move, and the violence seen in this video is both unnecessary and cruel.
Police drive into a crowd in New York (from @chieffymac11)
“NY’s Finest”. Disgusting. #BlackLivesMatter #riots2020 #JusticeForGeorgeFlyod https://t.co/GP5vcXRlqy— Marco (@Marco) 1590883771.0
Although this video has been on several mainstream media channels, it is worth including here. Originally posted at 7:09 p.m. on May 30, 2020, this video shows police driving their vehicles through barricades and directly into a group of protestors. Although the protestors were throwing small objects at the vehicles, intentionally driving a car into a crowd is never an appropriate or productive solution. Instead of calling for backup, or moving back from the crowd, the officers in this video chose to harm those they are supposed to protect.
Police officer violently kicks protestor in Erie, PA (from @the7goonies)
Protests started in Erie.. a girl here was peacefully protesting, after 15 minutes she was maced and kicked..… https://t.co/3x6UQUJ7dS— Nick / nak5132 🍐 (@Nick / nak5132 🍐) 1590908796.0
This video, posted at 2:06 a.m. on May 31, 2020, shows an officer violently kicking a protestor covering her eyes as they spray mace directly at her. Though this video is short, it shows an aggressive targeted attack on a person who is clearly no threat to the surrounding officers. Rather than making any effort to communicate with the protestor or help her move to another location, the officers in this video choose to violently attack someone who was already on the ground. For another, a more extensive view of this instance, go here (video contains explicit language).
More videos of police violence against peaceful protestors can be found in this thread.
The heart of recent protests lies in the intentions of both the protestors and the law enforcement officials, and my purpose in sharing the aforementioned moments is to shed light on those intentions. Protestors are simultaneously mourning the loss of George Floyd while demanding systemic reform that is long overdue. Police officers are responding, in many situations, with unnecessarily cruel violence that only emphasizes the protestors' motivations for speaking up.
If we ignore the moments in which protestors championing peace are met by extreme violence from law enforcement officials in favor of the looting and fires that mainstream media has been using to dominate their protest coverage segments, we will lose sight of what is really going on here: a demand that the United States begins to place value on black lives by eradicating institutions infested with racism and hatred.