By Sabrina Mazumder, age 12 and IndyKids Staff
George Floyd’s death at the hands of cops has reignited the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement globally. On May 25, Floyd, a Black man, was killed after a white police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, even after Floyd told the officer, “I can’t breathe.” The video of Floyd’s death went viral, highlighting the systemic racism experienced by Black people at the hands of law enforcement officials.
The BLM movement began as a hashtag in 2013 following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. The movement began taking to the streets to protest police violence against the Black community in 2014 following the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Michael Brown in Missouri. George Floyd joined the scores of Black people killed by police, including 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, 28-year-old Atatiana Jefferson and 40-year-old Aura Rosser. Despite the fact that the Black community is only 13% of the population, they make up 28% of all police killings.
Protesters are calling for the officers to be fired and prosecuted in all of these cases—something that rarely occurs. According to a Washington Post investigation, of the “1,881 U.S. police officers who were fired for misconduct between 2006 and 2017, 451 of them won their jobs back after an appeal.”
Most people have been peacefully protesting these recent killings. However, news reports across the country have found police officers using weapons, such as batons, rubber bullets and tear gas, to attack peaceful protesters. Two white police officers from Buffalo, New York, for example, were charged for shoving a 75-year-old protester, causing him injuries when the man hit his head on the pavement.
The protests have started to spark change. The Minneapolis City Council, the city where Floyd was killed, voted unanimously in June to defund its police department and recreate a public health-oriented and restorative justice approach to safety. They hope to use the police to keep people safe, not kill them.
Restorative justice: A theory of justice that focuses on mediation and agreement rather than punishment. Offenders must accept responsibility for harm and make restitution with victims.