Black Lives Do Matter


WHBQ FOX13 Memphis

Protesters gather at I AM A MAN plaza to march in downtown Memphis for equality and justice.

George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Trayvon Martin, three people who share something in common, three innocent African American citizens that were killed by the police.

These people lost their lives due to police brutality and didn’t deserve to die so young. Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old woman, was killed in her sleep after the police accidentally barged into her house after looking for another suspect who was already in custody. She was shot eight times. Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy, was fatally shot by the police after he was mistakenly labeled as a “suspicious person”. George Floyd, a 46-year old man, was killed after 3 officers pinned him to the ground, and one kneeled on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, even after Floyd uttered the phrase’ “I can’t breathe” multiple times. All because of a $20 bill that seemed counterfeit but was later revealed to be a legitimate bill.

These are only 3 out of hundreds of innocent black people whose lives have been taken by law enforcement, and the sad truth, these officers rarely pay for their crimes. For example, the officer that killed Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, was acquitted on his charges. And in the case of Breonna Taylor, the 3 officers who played a role in her death have yet to be apprehended. In most cases, these people are fired from their jobs and face no repercussions as families mourn the loss of their loved ones.

Peaceful protests began to break out all over the country to advocate for justice, but these peaceful protests are quickly becoming riots due to the use of unnecessary force by the government and police officers. Minneapolis was the first city to begin protesting peacefully, but things quickly became violent the moment there was police intervention. Protesters were shot with rubber bullets, hit with tear gas, and severely beaten. The brutal response from the police led to even more harm and destruction. Protesters first sought revenge on corporations that did not help during the violent attacks, like Target for not selling milk to aid the sting of tear gas, by looting them and destroying the property. Many other buildings and businesses have also been severely damaged by the riots, but there have been many projects helping to restore these places through cleanups after protesters leave, or GoFundMe’s spread through Twitter. President Trump has issued out several orders to deploy the national guards into cities like Minneapolis where things have reached the highest points of tension. This has caused even more destruction. Police officers have been caught on video harassing and beating protesters even though the citizens were only sitting with their signs. No one is exempt from the harsh punishments from the police force. Celebrities, like Halsey, have taken to Twitter to recall how they were also hurt and had to save others who were bleeding immensely from military weapons. One of her tweets from the Los Angeles protests stated, “[Cops] fired rubber bullets at us. We did not breach the line. [Our] Hands were up. Unmoving. And they gassed and fired.” Officers have also tricked protesters into thinking that they support the cause and have kneeled, but as soon as the cameras are away, they returned to violence.

The protests have spread throughout the nation, but not all of them are as violent. Memphis has been having daily protests in various spots that relate to the civil rights movement back in the 60s, and most of them have been peaceful. The most extreme incident from a Memphis protest was the destruction of a shoe store, but citizens quickly paid for the repair fees. In the days following citizens have been marching peacefully, taking stops to declare why the movement is important, with very little police intervention. Memphis citizens have also been respectful of the new curfews put in place, and Hutchison students have been able to safely attend protests. Unfortunately, Memphis is only one of a few cities protesting this way. Videos of the mass destruction coming from these riots has spread across the internet. As the situation continues to spiral, more citizens, especially teenagers are looking for ways to help and be heard, and there are solutions.

Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok are all platforms where teenagers have voiced their concerns and shown members of the black community that they have their support. They have also used this platform to educate others on what is happening. Many people seem to be in the dark about the systemic racism in America and just how heavily it affects the members of the black community. By spreading this information through trending hashtags and viral videos shines a light on the injustices that happen on a daily basis and more people will be informed and join the fight for justice. Will Smith said back in 2016, “Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.” For decades, racism and police brutality has taken a heavy toll on the black community, and when cases made it to court, the lack of evidence made it possible for people to be wrongly accused or officers to be acquitted easily. Now, with the use of smartphones and cameras everywhere, there is ample evidence used to defend a citizen or to pinpoint the crime that an officer truly committed, and by using social media, people voice their demands that the courts should follow the law and arrest the officer in question. It also allows for more people to check in on others. These are very troubling times, and it can cause a lot of mental strain on others, so regular check-ins to see how people are coping with the immense amount of hatred and violence in the country is also very beneficial. Large corporations, celebrities, and even schools have voiced their support for the movement and used their platform to encourage their followers to help out. Nickelodeon has aired a commercial that is silent for nearly 9 minutes while facts about the movement appear across the screen to educate children. Celebrities have posted several petition links and have donated generous amounts of money to these causes, influencing their followers to do the same. Hutchison has also released a statement with various other schools in Memphis. It shows support for all of the black students and faculty and a commitment to make necessary changes to create an inclusive community.

Social media is not the only way to get involved. Various organizations have created petitions to ensure that Derrick Chauvin, Floyd’s murderer, actually faces justice. These petitions along with the protests and riots, have led to his arrest in 4 days which is the fastest any police officer has been obtained in the history of police brutality cases. People are still fighting to make sure the other three officers in Floyd’s case, and various others from different cases, get arrested and face an adequate punishment. There are many charity websites opening donations to help the families of the victims and restore small businesses that may have been damaged during the riots. A lot of destruction may be happening during these times, but it is important to note that there are also numerous people doing their best to repair things.

This is not a time to stay quiet and away from politics. In the words of Desmond Tutu, a South African cleric, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Justice and equality will only be reached if everyone continues to speak out and do what they can to ensure the nation understands the message: Black Lives Matter.