By EMMA CHANG
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece are not a reflection of the views of Paw Prints Weekly as a whole. They are the sole views of the author. Paw Prints Weekly celebrates a diverse audience and staff, and it supports the declaration of the duties and rights of a Journalist per the U.S. Constitution.
For some, this is like something never seen before. But for countless others, it is an everyday reality.
This reality is none other than the Black Lives Matter fight for equal rights and change. In less than one week following the murder of George Floyd, buildings burned, businesses looted and thousands mobilized, culminating into a national war for reformed police practices and a broader justice system.
From Minneapolis to New York, Los Angeles and Toronto, thousands of people continue to publicly oppose oppression and discrimination of African Americans. At the heart of the riots lies a deeply seeded issue that is the result of too many counts of police brutality, hundreds more untold stories, mistreatment and racism. Together, this movement is known as the Black Lives Matter movement.
The movement took the international spotlight immediately following the murder of George Floyd, a black man arrested by policemen after being accused of shopping with a counterfeit bill. After allegedly failing to comply, Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin restrained Floyd on the ground, handcuffed, before taking his life as he held his knee on Floyd’s neck for over 8 minutes.
Throughout the entire incident, witnesses recorded the two’s interaction, most notably documenting Chauvin’s merciless behavior and Floyd’s attempts to plead the officers for his life. Even minutes after Floyd became blatantly unresponsive, Chauvin continued this behavior before witnesses’ unrest urged another officer to check Floyd’s pulse and shortly after, he was declared dead. Since then, Floyd’s final words, “I can’t breathe” swept across networking platforms and news media around the world. Posters, murals, posts and more have spread across social media in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Not even weeks after the coronavirus pandemic struck, the movement roused thousands to protest the oppression and brutality that has always plagued the American justice system. Yet these protests were peaceful as people united in solidarity to make a stand on this matter. All things considered, this was an astonishing mobility of nonviolent citizens, demanding change—and rightfully so.
But as history writes, for every step forward, there is always something that brings us two steps back.
As protests began, so did the looting. Then shooting, tear gas and before everyone knew it, the National Guard had been dispatched. Each day, more witnesses post proof of the police and guard’s repulsive and unwarranted behavior in the midst of nonviolent protests alongside petitions for thousands of unnamed victims that fill social media timelines across the country. Oddly enough, these actions are not the work of your average protestor. Rather, they are instigated by people causing havoc for the sake of doing so and destroying this movement by making it something it never was.
What is worse is that the majority of this information has been made public by witnesses, rather than what most consider to be credible news sources. It is normal people like you or I who are displaying the real information—the harsh, violent reality of these protests, warning others of unsafe areas, unprecedented curfews and other incidents of violence.
This issue has forced spectators and bystanders to open their eyes to the real ethical issue at hand. It is crucial for people to discern inaccurate information and continue their support for this movement. Police brutality and systemic racism are not new, nor innate to any person. They are both taught and influenced by those around us and built upon discrimination and lies. The only difference is that now, it is being filmed.
Despite hundreds of years of protest and reform, not once has the political reaction ever been so glaringly ignorant nor hateful than it is now. Our own president continues to side with the oppressors—the police and a nation in the wrong—remaining indifferent and aggressive.
Before a national audience, Trump unmistakably alienates all of the protests and expresses his outrage towards the situation daily for all to see. Referring to completely peaceful protestors as “thugs” who need to be sorted, Trump flaunts his use of the military to exercise control over citizens and deems himself the “law and order” president when this could not be farther from the truth.
Some might even say his displays of bravado are no more than pathetic attempts to cover up his botched national delegation during the coronavirus pandemic. In an almost completely backward narrative, Trump did not hesitate to dispatch the National Guard to put an end to this movement. While these forces have yet to be successful, the aftermath is no more spine chilling than the man who claimed “once the looting starts, the shooting starts” in a disgusting display of apparent witty humor.
By now, it’s simply a matter of “if you’re not angry, you’re not listening.”
In light of everything mentioned and the negativity surrounding the movement, protests have also brought out the best in youth activists, who have united to fight for change. Remarkably, overwhelming online support has materialized in a matter of hours, with more and more advocacy, fundraisers and education becoming easily available and inspiring others in the name of this cause.
Regardless of all the positive outcomes the movement has brought, this matter is still a violent and disgusting cause. When push comes to shove—in this case, literally—it is the ignorance of privilege and unnecessary violence led by whites and police has escalated this argument into something it should never have been.
This and countless other reasons only further support the idea that something, anything must be done to combat this injustice. Without a doubt, remaining complacent or silent would be the biggest crime a witness could commit at this time.
In short, this is what needs to be heard: BLACK LIVES MATTER. It is vital for new generations to realize that this is a fight for people’s lives, between what is just for ALL people, not just by any person’s skin color, gender, race or sexuality.
As a non-black person of color, I acknowledge that I do not perfectly understand this discrimination. I do not understand it, but I stand by it because this fight deserves to be won. One tough conversation and the possibility of backlash is minuscule in comparison to the discriminatory reality some face every single day.
If you are wondering where to begin, educate yourself. Visit www.blacklivesmatter.carrd.co/ and find out what you can do and where you can donate. Above all, stay safe.
WHEN THERE IS NO JUSTICE, THERE IS NO PEACE.
In most recent developments, Los Angeles County has adopted a countywide curfew, beginning at 9PM until 5AM. Residents, including those of Hacienda Heights, are to remain in their homes during these times, except for extraneous reasons.