Since August, cities across the nation have been protesting and advocating for the protection of black lives.. The #blacklivesmatter movement reached an apex when Officer Pantaleo, the Staten Island cop who was filmed using an illegal chokehold on Eric Garner, joined the list of law enforcement officials who have not been acquitted after killing an unarmed man of color. Places as far as London and Palestine have joined us in solidarity. The message and the purpose of the protests have always been clear. We want officers to stop being judge, jury, and executioner with no recourse. We want the men behind the badges to understand that fear of blackness is not an automatic nor legitimate excuse to completely abandon what they’re taught in the academy. I mean, in no case of the past couple of years, has there ever been a report, eye witness account, or video footage of police officers trying to deescalate these situations. How can mainstream America not see that as a big problem?
It’s been 5 months and 1 day since Michael Brown was killed. We’re still marching. Still protesting. Still being denied justice.
I was listening to the TGOS podcast the other day. And one of the hosts brought up an interesting and likely unpopular opinion; what happens now? I think that’s a natural reaction to have as some time has passed. The intent of peaceful protests is to bring awareness to an issue. Last year, I discussed the protests of the LA Clippers players’ after their owner had been unequivocally proven a racist. The players protested in a manner that they saw fit. People had a problem with it. However, those protests had a specified agenda. The league, other owners, and the NBA commissioner wanted Donald Sterling out. And that happened.
Protests sparked by social injustices are different though. Although the endgoal is obvious, people will have contrasting views after a certain point. For example, last week, a sub-group of protesters took to “white spaces” in NYC to protest. In a statement from its organizers, “Young Black leaders organized Black Brunch in response to the historic violence and unjust crimes committed against Black people in America.” I read the subtext of this event as it was to simply make white people uncomfortable. For me, having people execute their own methodologies of protesting is counterproductive to the #blacklivesmatter movement at large.
By now, everybody in America knows what is at stake. The civil rights movement didn’t really have a finite date of completion. Even once the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, the fight for justice didn’t stop. Locally, people communicated and centralized their efforts. Even if there were small factions of protesters who acted independently, a dominant focus remained. I don’t know that that’s true right now. I guess the people who aren’t on the front line day in and day out shouldn’t be criticizing. However, every movement has people who are in it for reasons that are self-serving; intentional or not. A community never wants its agenda to be muddled by the decisions of some.
What’s upsetting is while cities worldwide have been protesting in the form of sit-ins, die-ins, and walk-outs, every week, we’re adding 1 or 2 more names to the list. Every week, someone’s son/father/brother becomes a hashtag. The whole world is watching state-sanctioned, unjustified murder against American citizens happen time and time again. Through the lack of indictments and PTO, cops are essentially getting “rewarded” for killing black men. So I can’t help but to think out loud – where do we go from these protests? What type of legislation is being drawn up behind the scenes to give validity to the protests? Even with white people wanting to be allies in #blacklivesmatter, when are they going to start having these uncomfortable conversations with their own white people? And lastly, what the hell is it going to take for a cop to stand trial?