Black Lives Matter

HarveyBLM

Ms. Ginny Harvey uses her knowledge as a World History and AP Psychology teacher at Parkview to attend a BLM Protest and create a sign with meaning that reads “Mansa Musa Had one of the RICHEST and most INFLUENTIAL kingdoms in history”

     Starting as a hashtag on Twitter back in 2013 as a response to the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, BLM (Black Lives Matter) became a movement that took the nation, and the world, by storm. It is a movement in which people have come together to end systematic racism, and such as the recent examples of police officers abusing their authority against African Americans. 

     This summer on May 25, George Floyd Jr. was at a grocery store,  but the clerk was suspicious he was using counterfeit bills. As BBC News states, “It began with a report of a fake $20 … bill. A report was made on the evening of 25 May, when Mr. Floyd bought a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods, a grocery store. Believing the $20 bill he used to be counterfeit, a store employee reported it to police.” The clerk stated Floyd appeared to be drunk or not exactly stable. Floyd was apprehended by police officers, and this is where things began to escalate.  While in police custody, Officer Derek Chauvin roughly apprehended  Floyd and kneeled on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. The pressure on his neck resulted in his death.  This blatant murder was captured on film and shared online as another example of the existence of police brutality in the United States. The BLM movement saw a major resurgence from 2013 as a response to this and several other hate crimes towards African Americans and their unjust deaths. Notable incidents include Ahmad Arbery of Brunswick, GA, as well as Breona Taylor, Elijah McClain, and David McAtee. A full list is maintained and updated at SayEveryName.Breonna Taylor’s name became known nationwide, whether it was seen on the back of sports players’ jerseys, or protestors’ signs on the news. Breonna Taylor was just 26 years old when she was shot and killed by police officers entering her apartment. “Police suspected Ms. Taylor’s [apartment]was being used to receive drugs by a gang based at a different address 10 miles (16km) away. One of the suspects was an ex-boyfriend of Ms. Taylor,” BBC news states. The three police officers involved were acquitted of charges relating to Taylor’s death. The Associated Press reported “details of the chaos and confusion during the raid that resulted in the 26-year-old Black woman’s death were revealed in 15 hours of audio recordings released Friday. They contained testimony and recorded interviews presented last month to the Kentucky grand jury that decided not to charge any Louisville police officers for killing Taylor.”

     Peaceful protests took place nationwide and were especially notable in Minneapolis, Minnesota where Floyd was killed.  Protesters hope to send the message to the government that police reform should be enacted as soon as possible, as well as developing a plan to end systematic racism. These peaceful protests were seen and heard globally. 

     One factor contributing to violence in cities like Portland, OR was the President’s order to deploy military authority to keep protestors away from federal property sites and out of the streets. There were counter-protesters who would cause chaos and confusion within the crowds. This conflict led some viewers to  counteract the movement by posting to social media slogans like “All Lives Matter,” or the more controversial “White Lives Matter.” This infuriated many people who stood for “Black Lives Matter” because it suggested many were misunderstanding the BLM message. Parkview Junior, Liya Tsegaye says, “…A lot of students, at least I have seen, posted against the movement and called it a ‘cult’ more than an effective protest which sparked outrage within me and my classmates.” 

      As the videos and information became widespread, more and more protests would show up from smaller communities across the nation, to several other countries. The month of June saw protests occur in each of the 50 states, including Lawrenceville and Decatur, Georgia.

     Paige McGaughey, a teacher at Alton C. Crews Middle School in Lawrenceville was instructed to take down a poster in the back of her classroom that said “Black Lives Matter.” The AJC states, “ district officials told her a Black Lives Matter poster visible in the background of her virtual classroom was a distraction and impacting her ‘effectiveness’ as a teacher.” Mrs.McGaughey expresses how she only hopes to create a safe environment for her students and wants them to feel valid. As of today, the poster remains in her classroom as a symbol of the peace and validity she hopes to convey to her students. 

     At Parkview, the movement has affected many students and educators the same. Tsegaye states, “it’s absolutely necessary and important to protest unjust policies or systems, and I feel this is doing exactly that. My teachers choose to shy away from politics, even though in my opinion… fearing for their lives solely because they’re black is a human rights issue more than a political one.”

     This generation is often viewed as more accepting and open-minded due to social media and the easy access that provides to outside opinions. “[S]ocial media and the media in general…allowed us to feel a sense of comfort and love to and with everyone around us. Since I was a kid, I had friends of every– everything really. I had friends who were white, black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian, gay, straight, pan, trans, bi, Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and so much more, which showed me how much what someone looks like, acts like, believes in, and chooses to love had little to do with who they are than who they are at heart. I feel a lot of teenagers and kids in this generation can relate to that, which has allowed us to be very accepting and respecting. This love and sympathy are what’s going to cause a change in the future,” says Tsegaye.