Black Lives Matter protests break out across the United States

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Anacaona Rodriguez | The Ticker

Farah Javed

Since the murder of George Floyd on May 30, protests have broken out across the United States calling for justice. The protests strive not just to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement but to also end police brutality.

An essential facet of the protests is the need for accountability. Across social media, users have created long lists of people in the black community that were killed by police officers or a victim of racial-profiling , many of whom were innocent.

This list includes Ahmaud Aubrey, a 25-year-old who was jogging down a street when he was shot in broad daylight. Others on the list included Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was killed by a police officer while he was playing with a toy gun, and Botham Jean, who was sitting in his own home when he was killed.

Frustration geared towards the repeated cycle of police brutality and racial-profiling towards the black community has built up for over a decade now. “We’re at the point where the very words people use to plead for their lives can be repurposed as shorthand for completely separate tragedies,” according to NPR.

The purpose of the current protests is to get justice for the death of Floyd, who was pinned to the ground by Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Every day since his death, people have gathered with signs saying, “No Justice, No Peace,” and chanting his famous last words, “I can’t breathe.”

Protesters are also calling for a change in legislation. In the past, the law has been used to justify racial discrimination. Most notably, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg implemented the Stop-and-Frisk program in New York, which disproportionately targeted people of color.

Currently, one highly contested law is New York’s CVR Section 50-A. It states that police officers, “shall be considered confidential and not subject to inspection or review without the express written consent of such police officer, firefighter, firefighter/paramedic, correction officer or peace officer within the department of corrections and community supervision or probation department except as may be mandated by lawful court order.”

Essentially, it keeps police disciplinary records a secret unless someone in a position of power calls for an investigation. This makes it harder to keep officers accountable for their actions if only a limited pool of people are allowed to access and review the information. . Across the state, people have been calling and writing to government officials and expressing their support to have the law repealed. Critics have said that it unfairly provides immunity to officers, allowing them the opportunity to abuse their power.

The widespread anger towards the legislation led New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to implement the “Say Their Name” Reform. The name itself is significant, as black people who are killed either go unreported or are not referred to by name in police and media reports. Just as the program’s name acknowledges the innocent who have been killed, its goals align with eliminating any opportunity for officers to potentially abuse their power.

The “Say Their Name” Reform will “allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records of law enforcement officers by reforming 50-A of the civil rights law; banning chokeholds by law enforcement officers; prohibiting false race-based 911 reports and making them a crime; and designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor for matters relating to the deaths of unarmed civilians caused by law enforcement,” according to a press release by the Governor’s office.

The “Say Their Name” Reform delivers on the demands that the public has been protesting for and shows that the protests are working to bring about change.

Though the four officers responsible for Floyd’s death have been arrested, many officers still are not held accountable for their actions. Racism continues to be an ever present force during the protests, evident in actress Ellen Pompeo’s widely liked tweet.

“So, I’m just wondering why that is: Why at the Women’s March there’s no machine guns. Why at Pride marches there’s no machine guns. But the Black Lives Matter march, machine guns everywhere. I don’t know. You tell me.”

With a breakthrough in legislation, protesters are further empowered to continue the unrelenting voicing of their frustration and anger.

Ultimately, the official Black Lives Matter organization defines the goals of the protests clearly. “We demand acknowledgment and accountability for the devaluation and dehumanization of black life at the hands of the police. We call for radical, sustainable solutions that affirm the prosperity of black lives.”