Why #BlackLivesMatter Matters

When American law enforcement has time and time again failed the black community, it is up to the people to make a difference.

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Amy Chen

In many cities, police and the National Guard, as well as local governments, have been fiercely pushing back nonviolent protests.

Footage of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin holding down George Floyd went viral on May 25 and reignited conversation about police brutality towards African-Americans.

In the video, Chauvin pressed into Floyd’s neck with a knee for a devastating eight minutes as the victim pleaded for his life. The trauma Floyd suffered soon led to his death.

The video’s upload was followed by mass street protests all across the country. On social media, people demanded justice for George Floyd as well as other black Americans who were victims of racial prejudice, including Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and countless others.

The death of George Floyd, captured on camera, was the last straw for many Americans as well as human rights advocates around the world. After years of seeing black populations mistreated by law enforcement, and then months of seeing them mistreated under dire conditions, black communities and allies have decided–enough is enough.

The majority of George Floyd protests that have occurred this past weekend began peacefully.

Some believe that the more violent protests (“riots”) resulting from this movement delegitimizes their argument. I believe it’s not my place to be mad about how others react to an issue that affects them. 

Beachwood students, parents, teachers and administrators, now is not the time to be silent. We can no longer idly sit by and watch as black lives are endangered by those in power. In our community, we may be privileged enough to lack awareness of such brutality, but we have no excuse now. ”

However, if it were not for the protestors causing an uproar by attacking property, the media would pay no attention to the problem of racial bias in our communities. If not for the burning and looting that occurred at QuikTrip after Ferguson, Ferguson might not have become a topic of discussion at all. 

Backtracking into our nation’s history, if not for the Boston Tea Party, Shay’s Rebellion, the Haymarket Affair, the 1913 women’s suffrage parade or the Stonewall Riots, the American people wouldn’t enjoy a lot of the rights they have earned today.

In addition, some of the “looting” and violence that right-leaning outlets condemn protesters for come from white extremists hiding in crowds of nonviolent protestors.

However, police and the National Guard, as well as local governments, have nevertheless been fiercely pushing back nonviolent movement efforts. 

On May 30, violence against protestors escalated during the fifth night of demonstrations, even though protests were mostly peaceful prior to police response. In Minneapolis, a CNN crew was arrested for covering the protests. 

In Denver, journalists were hit by rubber bullets (one photojournalist was hit in the eye and permanently lost sight in that eye for taking pictures). In Los Angeles, COVID-19 testing centers were shut down to condemn protestors. In Seattle, police began firing flashbangs at a peaceful rally. In Omaha, Raleigh, Columbus and finally Cleveland, police threw tear gas canisters into crowds of peaceful protestors.

The actions of law enforcement have openly violated the fundamental, inalienable constitutional rights of Americans. Law enforcement’s arrests of and attacks on journalists, a direct violation of their freedoms to speech and press, show how the justice system has failed in protecting its people. 

Law enforcement’s shutdown of coronavirus testing sites, especially crucial given the current focus on the outbreak, shows how the justice system has failed in protecting its people. Law enforcement’s use of flashbangs and tear gas, the latter a chemical weapon banned in warfare by various international treaties, on civilians protesting racial injustice shows how the justice system has failed in protecting its people.

Peaceful protestors have been denied their right to free speech and public dissent when brutal police officers who have killed unarmed black people have not been prosecuted, proving how we can no longer count on the government to enforce justice. When the government is silent in defending the people’s rights, it is up to the people to make change.

Beachwood students, parents, teachers and administrators, now is not the time to be silent. We can no longer idly sit by and watch as black lives are endangered by those in power. In our community, we may be privileged enough to lack awareness of such brutality, but we have no excuse now. 

As a district that prides itself on diversity and making a difference, it’s time to educate ourselves. Sign petitions, donate if you can, and remember that small actions can lead to great changes. Let’s improve the state of our nation.

Resources for Activism Below

Donate to Ohio Bail Funds:

Cleveland Bail Fund

Columbus Bail Fund

Cincinnati Bail Fund

Bowling Green Bail Fund

Canton/Akron Bail Fund

Sign Petitions (Don’t Donate!):

“Ban Tear Gas Use in Ohio” Petition

“Time for a Police State Report Card” Petition

“Introducing More Black History/White Privilege into Ohio Curriculum” Petition

“STEP UP Xavier!” Petition

For Protestors:

Lawyer Assisting Arrested Protestors in Ohio Pro-Bono: Taylor Waters, (614)-674-9573

Know Your Rights

Take Action:

Sign Petitions to Demand Justice

Donate to Demand Justice

Text or Call to Demand Justice

Educate yourself:

Yale online course about African American History (Free)

Online Links to Educate Yourself

An Anti-Racist Reading List

Debate Between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley (1965)

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (Goran Olsson)

13th (Ava DuVernray) – Netflix

Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler) – Available to rent

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