by Willow S.
The Black Lives Matter movement has been around since the death of Trayvon Martin in 2012 and became more relevant with a larger uproar since George Floyd’s death 2 months ago.
Alicia Opal and Patrisse Khan-Cullors are the two original founders of the Black Lives Matter organization. It started when Patrisse Khan-Cullors, hashtagged #blacklivesmatter under Alicia Garza’s love note to Black people after the death of Trayvon Martin. While not only are the founders of an organization, they are founders of a movement. This movement has largely impacted Black lives and how others portray them. It sheds light on racism that was before going unnoticed and police brutality. There is so much that is changing due to the Black Lives Matter movement.
The movement gained more attention after a viral video of an unarmed black man, named George Floyd, who died at the hands of police brutality on May 25th. In Minneapolis, there was immediate action. I remember so vividly seeing a girl go on Instagram live and show a Target on fire while everyone was in the streets protesting. People all around the United States followed suit, as well as globally. With everyone working from home or losing their jobs because of this pandemic it was easier for many to take notice of current events and show up to protests. Since the day this news came out there have been protests every day still happening in many major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. People have had it with the police brutality targeted at Black people. According to the New York Times, the recent Black Lives Matter protests peaked on June 6th, when “half a million people turned out in nearly 550 places across the United States. In four recent polls data suggest that about 15-26 million people in the United States have participated in demonstrations over the Black Lives Matter movement. More than 40% of the US counties have protested.”
Police killed more than 1000 people in America in 2019 and statistically black people are 3x more likely to be killed by police. According to a study by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, in America, trans women of color have a life expectancy of 30-35 years old. 99% of killings by police from 2013-2019 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime according to Mapping Police Violence. A doctrine is known as “qualified immunity” also protects police from excessive force lawsuits in cases that don’t involve a “clearly established” violation of the law.
During the start of the George Floyd protest, many protesters were complaining about only showing the violent side from looters and rioters and conflating the two. Many complained it was purposeful of the media to do this. Looting became the only talking point of many not actually attending other forms of demonstrations. People saying things like “they’re losing the message, they’ve gone too far”. The media portrayed these people as bad people instead of paying attention to protestors simply wanting justice. Ava DuVernay said “I think the thing for me around the whole idea of protestors and rioters and looting is how it’s all been conflated in the mainstream media. I watched our local news here in Los Angeles it’s kind of all mixed together when they’re all very separate things.” A viral sign said “judging a demonstration by its most violent participants but not judging a police force by its most violent cops is the language of the oppressor”.”
There have been many changes that protests have produced. Not only protesting in person but online. Cases began re-opening of people like Elijah McClain and Breona Taylor. Previously these cases remained closed due to “lack of public interest”. After many people encouraging the public to sign petitions and people emailing and calling into the police stations in the city where these officers and other people of the public committed these crimes. In response to the noise made recently of Breona Taylor’s death city officials banned the use of no-knock warrants.
Another large change in media due to the Black Lives Matter movement is AP style has changed the word “Black” to be capitalized when referencing an ethnic, racial, or cultural meaning of the word. As well, the editorial editor of the New York Times resigns after running Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed titled “Bring in the Troops” in regards to current protests. Many conversations are taking place in newsrooms on standards and raising important questions about issues of race and fairness in newsrooms. The publication Axios also made a huge change in journalism. Axios is allowing reporters to attend protests for racial justice and wrote that they would protect staff if they are arrested or meet harm while exercising their rights to free speech, press, and protests. This is a big deal in media because typically journalists are not allowed to participate in protests or marches because it could suggest partisan bias.
Overall I think people are taking the Black Lives Matter movement and Black lives in general much more seriously.
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Buchanan, Larry, et al. “Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 3 July 2020, .
Darcy, Oliver. “Black Lives Matter Movement Reshapes the Media Landscape.” CNN, Cable News Network, 9 June 2020, .
Higgins, Tucker, and John W Schoen. “These 4 Charts Describe Police Violence in America.” CNBC, CNBC, 4 June 2020, .
Sinyangwe, Samuel, and DeRay McKesson. Mapping Police Violence, Mapping Police Violence, 2020, www.mappingpoliceviolence.org
Thorne, Will. “Ava DuVernay Calls Out Mainstream Media for 'Conflating' Protestors and Looters in Oprah Winfrey Town Hall.” Variety, Variety, 10 June 2020, variety.com/2020/tv/news/ava-duvernay-mainstream-media-protestors-looters-oprah-winfrey-town-hall-1234629862/