Like a lit match to a pool of gas, a single murder sparked an explosion of outrage and change, furthering the Black Lives Matter Movement. Many people are probably familiar with the surge in support for the black lives matter movement. During the summer there were peaceful protests, rioting, violence, and a call for justice.
The murder of George Floyd broke the camel’s back and served as a catalyst of indignation. On May 25th, police officers took Floyd into custody and used excessive force in pinning him down, eventually leading to his murder. This murder was recorded and spread across the internet, leading to a strong resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. The social media presence of the movement exploded, spreading awareness to any listening individual. I asked Maya Spooner, a Black young adult fluent in social media about her experience with the movement on social media, “I see the hashtag, I see all sorts of fundraisers related to BLM or black people in need regularly. I see discussions n what ppl would like BLM to do, I see discussions on what BLM has done, or what they don’t do.”
Although the recent surge in popularity is how many came to know about the black lives matter movement, BLM has a rich history of advocating against the oppression of black people in America. Starting as a simple hashtag, the growth of the BLM organization is definitely a sight to behold. Based mostly on social media, this organization relies on the internet to promote the black-centred political movement to the masses. Unfortunately, another act of violence was the motivation for the rudimentary beginnings of the movement.
In 2012, after the shootings of Trayvon Martin, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter began to grow in popularity as a protest against the acts of police brutality towards black people in America. In 2013, three women, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi started the political movement called #BlackLivesMatter. Since then, the project has only risen in popularity across the nation, gaining recognition, working towards the liberation of black people- even queer and disabled- in America’s oppressive system. They are accepting donations and support at the link: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/ms_blm_homepage_2019
A major moment in black liberation history was the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. On May 25th, Floyd was taken into custody by Minneapolis police under suspicion of using counterfeit money to buy a pack of cigarettes. The police ended up using excessive force in order to “subdue” Floyd; kneeling on his neck as he called out for help until his inevitable death from suffocation. This entire ordeal was filmed by onlookers hoping to use the evidence to hold the officers accountable. This incident spread like wildfire, with people rightfully getting upset at the obvious misuse of power by the police force. Melinda Aaron, a black woman old enough to experience racism at its height looks back on her reaction to the announcement: “I remember the worst thing that I heard about George Floyd’s death was the length of time that policeman had his knee on his neck.”
“I can’t breathe.” Some of the last words of Floyd as he pleaded for his life; for mercy from the cop kneeling on his kneck. These words served to provoke the nation, effectively opening up their eyes to the atrocities acted upon black people by police. This lead to a series of several events as the masses attempted to get justice. I asked Brianna Cruz-Cortez what she remembered, a young adult who experienced this summer first-hand through social media, and she said: “I think I found out [about George Floyd’s death] through social media probably like Instagram or one of twitter’s moments…and then I would see protests in posts”
Much of the BLM movement was located on the internet, raising awareness through social media and the like. During the summer of discontent, fundraisers, infographic and petitions helped the cause by spreading information and allowing people to come together in a unified front. Cruz-Cortez recalls how she helped to spread awareness, “a group of my peers and I would take turns to spread around petitions that were important, and we’d try to educate each other on social issues that we thought were current to our time and where we could actively make changes by spreading this information.” Many organizations for the movement have followed suit, using social media to reach out to the younger generation in the hopes of enlisting their help. Delaware State University has its own Instagram dedicated to diversity and acceptance on campus. At dsu_diversity on Instagram.
The aftermath after the surge in outrage in response to Floyd’s murder on May 25th was as follows: peaceful protests were observed all across America in an effort to bring attention to the injustice in the systemic oppression enforced by the police force. Similarly, violent riots broke out alongside these protests, adding an urgency to the matter, and pointing more attention to the cause. Cruz-Cortez Gives her opinion on the riots, “ I was all for the riots and even when they got ‘violent’ I was still for them because I think it was their place to tear down the very infrastructure that was used to oppress them.”
Now, the BLM movement is a well recognized and heavily supported movement by many across America. Although support seems to have waned, sadly, it is only a matter of time before another act of police brutality will incite more action. The cycle still remains that is actively oppressing black people in America with the use of the police force. We can only hope that eventually, change will come about to free black people in this nation. Until then, our actions and displays can serve as reminders for the people we have lost to this violence. We can all do our part for the better of the BLM Movement.