By now, almost everyone has heard the phrase, “Black Lives Matter,” whether it be in the news, on social media or from the mouths of protestors. It has become more than just a rallying call against discrimination and racism; it is a movement that is now taking the nation, and the world, by storm.
BLM is a global organization with a mission to eradicate white supremacy and put an end to systemic racism and violence toward black communities.
The movement was founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in 2012. Although he was charged with murder, he was acquitted after he claimed self-defense.
According to the BLM website, the movement is not only about standing up to discrimination but also serving as an affirmation of what black lives contribute to society and their strength against oppression. BLM also strives to empower women, transgenders and people of all sexualities in the black community.
The BLM movement began to expand globally in 2014 after the murder of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot the unarmed Brown multiple times but was not charged for the shooting. The Black Lives Matter Freedom Ride was organized in response, bringing together over 600 people who traveled to Ferguson to demand justice for the Brown family.
After the events in Ferguson, 18 other cities developed BLM chapters and a global network was organized. The movement has also been involved in the many protests occurring throughout the US today. The organization has planned for a town hall meeting on Thursday to discuss defunding the police. This event will be live-streamed on the BLM Facebook page at 7 p.m.
While the death of Martin and Brown may have begun the movement, the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have to propel the movement even further.
“I can’t breathe,” George Floyd is heard saying in a video taken of him being pinned down by a police officer on May 25.
Floyd repeated that he couldn’t breathe at least 16 times in less than five minutes, according to the New York Times. Floyd was a 46-year-old African American man who was wanted for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. Floyd was pinned down by three Minneapolis officers, including Derek Chauvin, who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck preventing him from breathing. Chavin kept his knee there for eight minutes and 46 seconds, not even removing it when Floyd lost consciousness. He died en route to the hospital.
The officers involved, Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kung, are awaiting trial. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and his bail has been raised to $1.25 million.
Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old African American woman, was shot and killed in her own home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky. The young emergency room technician was hit eight times.
The police had been issued a no-knock warrant where they weren’t required to identify themselves as law enforcement and they could enter without any warning. The warrant was granted due to a drug case the police were working at the time, and they had reason to believe that Taylor’s apartment was being used to receive packages containing drugs.
The Louisville police claim that Taylor’s boyfriend, who was in bed with her, fired a gun at them first so the officers returned fire. The officers also claimed that they did knock and announce themselves as police officers, but this has been denied by relatives of Taylor and her boyfriend. The officers were not charged with the death of Taylor, and no drugs were found in her home. As of June 12, a law was passed in Louisville banning “no-knock” warrants, the law has been referred to as “Breonna’s Law.”
Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old African American, was shot and killed while he was going out for a jog on February 23 just outside his hometown of Brunswick, Georgia. He was fatally shot with a shotgun by a civilian, Travis McMichael.
Arbery was seen running in the neighborhood of Satilla Shores when Gregory and his son Travis McMichael said they spotted him, believing him to be the man suspected of several break-ins in that area. The McMichaels armed themselves with a handgun and a shotgun and began to chase Arbery in their pick-up truck, according to police reports. It was also reported a third man was involved in the pursuit as well.
A video of the event shows Arbery approaching a white truck with one man holding a shotgun standing next to the open driver’s side door, and another man in the bed of the truck with a handgun. Arbery then runs around the truck yelling before he can be seen in a fight with the man holding the shotgun. Three shotgun blasts can be heard before Arbery falls onto the sidewalk. The man holding the shotgun has been identified as Travis McMichael.
A 911 call was made moments before the chase began with the caller stating that a black man had entered a house that was under construction. A video was released that shows a man, believed to be Arbery, entering the house and then running out of it. Arbery’s lawyer, S. Lee Merit stated that Arbery was out for a jog and stopped at the property for a short while but he engaged in no illegal activity and took nothing from the site.
Months later, on May 7, the McMichaels were arrested and charged with the murder of Arbery. William Bryan Jr. was also arrested and charged for felony murder an criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. Bryan allegedly filmed the 28-second viral video of the chase and killing of Arbery.