After learning that George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis, was brutally murdered by a white police officer on May 25, millions of people called for justice for George and his family and demanded that the police officers involved be held fully accountable, contacting their lawmakers, speaking out on social media, and signing petitions.
On May 26, hundreds tooks to the streets of Minneapolis to protest police violence. Demonstrators carried signs that said "No justice, no peace," "Black lives matter," and "Stop lynching us."1 Outside the neighborhood police precinct, the demonstrators faced police in riot gear who used tear gas and shot rubber bullets to disperse them. Compare this to how police behaved at anti-lockdown protests: Protesters there, who were largely white, were heavily and openly armed, and at one anti-lockdown protest, there was a mock lynching of an elected official. Yet police stood calmly as armed anti-lockdown activists came within inches of their faces, at no point using force to push back or clear the space.
As demonstrations calling for justice for George Floyd spread nationwide, the initially peaceful protests became "more like a war zone than a protest," with "people running for cover from the rising plumes of tear gas."2 Demonstrators in Phoenix had tense face-offs with police and in Columbus were sprayed with pepper spray.
The police's violent treatment of these demonstrators, who were calling for justice for George Floyd and accountability for the officers involved in his murder (as of right now, only one officer has been charged), shows how unfairly people of color are treated by police in America. Donald Trump called the protesters "thugs" and encouraged police violence against them, tweeting, "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."3 But recall how, earlier this month, he called the white, armed, right-wing protesters "very good people," and in 2017, he said that there were "very fine people" in the violent white nationalist demonstrations in Charlottesville, where one of them murdered Heather Heyer, a nonviolent counterprotester.4 Trump's not even trying to hide his racist double standards.
A reporter who covered protests after police murders of Michael Brown, Freddie Grey, and Eric Garner, wrote, "Perhaps the police showed restraint in Michigan because they were able to empathize with the armed white men. They saw their humanity. Nothing will change until they can see the same in black protesters too."5
This is a pivotal moment to call for justice for George Floyd. Our country must not enable and perpetuate white supremacy and police brutality any longer.
After signing the petition, please read the original email below from Rashad Robinson from Color of Change.
Thanks for all you do.
–Isbah, Arvin, Jennifer, Erica, and the rest of the team
1. "Hundreds Protest George Floyd's Death In Minneapolis," HuffPost, May 26, 2020
2. "The Anti-Lockdown Protests Prove Police Know How to Treat Protesters Fairly," Slate, May 28, 2020
3. "Twitter Places Warning on a Trump Tweet, Saying It Glorified Violence," The New York Times, May 29, 2020
4. "Of Course Trump Called Armed, Right-Wing Protesters 'Very Good People,'" Vanity Fair, May 1, 2020
5. "The Anti-Lockdown Protests Prove Police Know How to Treat Protesters Fairly," Slate, May 28, 2020
Dear MoveOn member,
Firing these police officers isn't enough. "They treated him worse than they treat animals," said the sister of George Floyd about the police officers who killed her brother. "They took a life — they deserve life."1
George Floyd, a Black man, was handcuffed and pinned down on the pavement by a white Minneapolis police officer who continued to press his knee into George's neck as George repeatedly cried out, "I can't breathe," and "Please, I can't breathe."
The video captured on May 25 by one of the bystanders shows the police officer brutally holding down George Floyd. The witnesses try to get the police officers to stop, telling them, "He's not even resisting arrest right now."2 After several minutes of the officer kneeling on his neck, George Floyd becomes silent and motionless. Then, showing his total disregard for George Floyd, the police officer pulls George's lifeless body by his arms and drags him away.
After a public outcry and support from government officials, the police officers involved in George Floyd's murder were fired, although the police union intends to provide full support to the officers. We need to make sure these police officers can never again terrorize the people they were entrusted to protect and are held fully accountable for George Floyd's murder.
–Rashad Robinson, Color of Change
1. "What We Know About the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis," The New York Times, May 27, 2020
2. "'Being Black In America Should Not Be A Death Sentence': Officials Respond To George Floyd's Death," CBSN Minnesota, May 26, 2020
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