Black Lives Matter Protests Continue After Breonna Taylor Decision
Despite media fatigue, organized demonstrations continue.
Update September 24, 2020: After a grand jury decided that only one of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor's death would be indicted on first-degree wanton endangerment charges, protests continued across the nation, with demonstrators voicing their dissatisfaction with the decision, which took six months. Activists rallied together, criticizing the charges against former Detective Brett Hankison as insufficient and calling out the fact that Sergeant John Mattingly and Detective Myles Cosgrove will face no charges — many protestors demanded felony charges and arrests. Following the decision, Mayor Greg Fischer instituted a curfew for Louisville. 127 people were arrested during the protests.
ABC News reports that two protesters were injured in hit-and-run incidents at protests in Colorado and upstate New York on Wednesday. In Los Angeles, protestors came together at the Hall of Justice. In Dallas, a group gathered near the police department's headquarters. In Minnesota, protestors gathered at the state capitol. Additional rallies drew crowds in Chicago and Seattle, as well as Portland, Maine, and Memphis. Thousands gathered in New York City when a group congregated at outside the Barclays Center and marched across the Manhattan Bridge.
Raoul Cunningham, president of the Louisville chapter of the NAACP, advised protestors to remain peaceful — but added that political leaders needed to support the right to protest, not try to silence activists.
"We have seen justice unevenly administered in this city before," he told CNN. "Those in leadership positions must discourage the violence, but not discourage the demonstration."
Previously: Two months after the murder of George Floyd and initial Black Lives Matter protests, headlines are shifting away from demonstrations, but activists are still out on the streets pushing for change.
According to data from the Crowd Counting Consortium, June 6 marked the peak of the protests, with an event happening in every single state in America, including spots known for being historically conservative. In the time since, many daily protests have gotten smaller, but they are not slowing down anytime soon.
In Louisville, Kentucky, hundreds of protestors continue to fight for justice for Breonna Taylor, whose killers have not been arrested. Her hometown has played host to "blackout" marches and demonstrations at the state’s capitol building. This week marked more than 50 days of continuous protests, including a visit from Wanda Cooper-Jones, Ahmaud Arbery's mother. But the demonstrations haven't been without controversy. More than 100 people have been detained at the demonstration and charged with trespassing.
New York City and Minneapolis also continue to have multiple demonstrations a day. While activists acknowledge the media's flagging coverage, protestors continue to persist.
"We are in the biggest social movement this country has ever seen," Oluchi Omeoga, co-founder of Black Visions Collective, told Vox. "When we say this is what will be written in the history books, it's not an exaggeration. The folks calling for change in this moment are the folks who are going to be on the right side of history."
Even as many feared an outbreak of coronavirus in the already impacted New York City, the protests continued with organizers encouraging safety with masks. In the months since data shows that protests in the city did not lead to an uptick in COVID-19 cases.
The New York Times reports that in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, protests have been "avowedly apolitical, with little faith in either major party or electoral politics at all." In 2016, President Trump won Franklin County, where Chambersburg is located, by more than 45 points.
Lexi Leydig, who participated in the first protests, said that she can feel momentum slowing down and fears that things will revert once protests settle down." Once everything slows down," Leydig said, "people will just go back to their ways."
Omeoga is more optimistic, pointing to all the changes that have already happened.
The Hill notes that "all four officers involved in the [murder of George Floyd] were fired by Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo." In June, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he will "seek to identify $100 million to $150 million in cuts from the LAPD." And in Minneapolis, the city council voted unanimously "to require police officers to intervene anytime they see unauthorized use of force by another officer and to ban police chokeholds altogether." Confederate monuments have also been taken down across the country, including statues in Birmingham, Alabama; Bentonville, Arkansas; and Jacksonville, Florida.
"The occupation of 'George Floyd Ave.,' the place where he was murdered, is an act of resilience or a protest. We have been occupying that space every day since George Floyd was lynched. Folks are protesting for change in the simplest terms," Omeoga said. "Folks are protesting for Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, and Dominique Fells. Folks are protesting against police brutality and state-sanctioned violence and for interpersonal violence against Black trans women. Folks are out protesting for Black lives."
Ashton P. Woods, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Houston, told Vox that there's still more work that needs to be done, noting that what the movement has accomplished is just the beginning — and that many groups have been working for years to achieve change.
"We have a responsibility to protect what we have secured for ourselves and dismantle white supremacy," he said. He adds that while public demonstrations get a lot of attention, there's more behind the scenes, such as online seminars and gatherings, appearances at city council meetings, and various campaigns on social media that also impact policymakers.
"There's been an erasure of what we are really protesting for, like the Black LGBTQ community or the Black immigrants — all Black lives matter," Woods said. "We've been doing this anti-racism work since before Trump got into office. We've been planning, coordinating, and doing the type of work that doesn’t get on the news for a long time."
There are many accounts on social media tracking the progress of protests in major cities like New York and it's important to continue to spread the word. There are also several ways to support the movement outside of marches by donating to causes, amplifying Black voices, and more. Check out our explicit guide here.