On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes, suffocating him as Floyd pleaded repeatedly that he couldn’t breathe. Videos of the murder went viral with many noting the devastating similarities between Floyd’s killing and that of Eric Garner in 2014. In response, Minneapolitans took to the streets to protest both Floyd’s death and the long legacy of anti-Black racism and police violence in the city and in our nation.
The weeks and months that followed can only be described as a nationwide uprising. Protestors took to the streets across the country despite police using extreme force and brutality to try to “dominate the streets” with increasing repression and brutality. Protestors have been tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, and met with disproportionate use of force. While protests in major cities like New York and Los Angeles dominated news cycles, people took action in the suburbs and rural areas to show solidarity and demand change to anti-Black racism and injustice in their own communities.
Sadly, we know the battle is far from over as Black people continue to be harassed, violated, and murdered by police. On August 23, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin as his children sat in the backseat. Thankfully, Jacob survived the encounter, but his attempted murder reignited the national conversation on white supremacy, police brutality, and the need for change. On August 25, at a Kenosha protest to demand justice for Jacob, two protestors were killed by a white vigilante as police stood by. Over and over, we are reminded that the police cannot keep us safe.
It is not enough to discuss a need for bias trainings or an increase in body cameras -- we must demand transformative change. Following the lead of Black-led organizations like the Movement 4 Black Lives, we believe it is critical to defund the police and reinvest in community services that keep everyone safe. Keep reading for information on how we got here, what it means to defund the police, and action steps you can take now to take action in solidarity with Black lives.