I thought, when the ground-swell of protest after Mr. Floyd’s murder began, that this event might be the straw that broke the camel’s back. That it is the blatant act of Evil that will waken the majority to realize what a terrible place we are in now, and, to FINALLY do something about it. I, for one, had really hoped that the Civil Rights movement and those battles, fought in the in the 1950s and 1960s was that moment. I have come to realize that I was misguided and, perhaps, too optimistic. Over the years since then, I have come to realize that they were an important step, but they were not the Sea Change that America needed to truly move towards a society where race was not a factor.
In the short time since we watched Mr. Floyd die on the street, there have been a LOT of changes that have moved not only America, but the world towards a more tolerant path. These include:
- In America:
- Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.
- Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.
- Dallas adopts a “duty to intervene” rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.
- New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.
- In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.
- The Louisville, KY, Metro Council has voted unanimously to ban no-knock warrants.
- Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.
- MBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.
- Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).
- Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.
- NASCAR bans Confederate “battle flag” from its events.
- Street in front of the White House is renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
- Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.
- The attitudes of people, and their focus and mindfulness are changing.
- The really difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.
- The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.
- The self-reflection, where many people (perhaps for the first time) are focusing on their attitudes towards race, and how those attitudes change the decisions we make.
- The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations will end as a result, others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and fairer.
- Too many people have accepted the violence perpetuated by the police, without question. The flood of video of these incidents is causing people to reconsider their automatic support of the actions of the LEOs.
- Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are taking place all over the world.
- Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
- As the US contends with its second week of protests, issues of racism, police brutality, and oppression have been brought to light across the globe.
- People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if we are going to lose America as the place where ‘I have a dream’ is a real and universal political program,” Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker.
- In France, protesters marched holding signs that said “I can’t breathe” to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.
- Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:
- In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square on Monday, holding signs and shouting popular chants like “Black lives matter,” and “No justice, no peace.”
- In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin, with 15,000 at Alexanderplatz, to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality.
- In Cologne, on Saturday at least 10,000 protesters gathered under the motto, “America we see you”, to demonstrate against racism.
- In Brussels, on Sunday another 10,000 protesters marched.
- A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.
- In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.
- The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the US.
- In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said “Stop killing black people,” “Say his name,” and “We will not be silent.”
- In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.
- In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read “I can’t breathe.”
- In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting “No justice, no peace!” throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.
- In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.
- And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.
- Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.
- In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.
- And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, “on a wall destroyed by military planes.”
- The Scottish Parliament has called for the immediate suspension of exports of riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets to the US
- Changes that are happening, or starting to happen
- ALL of the huge protests that have been happening daily since the murder have been both peaceful, and, included people of all races.
- There has been at least one instance where a cop was separated from his squad, and all alone, surrounded by angry protestors. The protestors formed a circle around him, and protected him while getting back to the other cops.
- We are seeing very clearly why the militarization of the police force is such a bad idea. Time and time again, we have seen groups of peaceful protestors attacked by heavily armored police, shot with less than lethal ammunition, and gassed with tear gas banned by the world for use on the battlefield.
- We are seeing a movement to radically reform police departments, to fix the issue that they are woefully incompetent at dealing with a vast majority of the situations they are called upon to intervene in.
- We are seeing a serious movement to remove the military equipment that the police have been gifted with over the past 30 years or so. This is a vital step for reasons I lay out in this recent essay
The question I have, though, is this: Will we, as humans, push on, persist, and use these changes as the roots of a thriving tree of change that will help bring the entire World to a better, more tolerant, and more nurturing path? Or, will we, as has happened before, blaze in outrage for a few weeks or months, then, forget this, and move on to the NEXT emotional issue? I hope that this will truly be a Sea Change, and will both persist and grow over the coming years.
Mr. Floyd was murdered by a man who looked upon him as no more important than a cockroach. IF his death is to have meaning, it must be a catalyst to bring real change to society. I pray it will.
God Help Us All
Bee Man Dave