“I can’t breathe,” the words that re-ignited the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement. On May 25th, 46-year-old George Floyd was murdered at the hands of a Minnesotan police officer, following false accusations of forgery. The 48-year-old officer removed Floyd from his car, and knelt on his neck for seven minutes while both Floyd and bystanders screamed for him to stop. It has been reported that for four of those minutes, Floyd was noticeably motionless, and he did not resist officers at any point during the ordeal.
Nationwide demonstrations against police brutality have been raging for six days, commencing at midday on May 26. Calls from across the world have been heard in support of the movement, including from the globe’s most prominent musicians.
Artists from around the world have spoken out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, including Jay-Z, Rihanna, Billie Eilish, Beyonce, and Killer Mike.
On Saturday, Killer Mike delivered an emotional speech about the ongoing protests. The rapper and activist argued that the murder of George Floyd reflects a deeper racist undercurrent running through the nation, acknowledging the discrimination faced by family members employed in the police force. “Here we are 80 years later, ” he said, “and I watched a white officer assassinate a black man.”
He continued to address the national demonstrations, arguing that “now is the time to plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize” rather than resorting to violence.
“I’m mad as hell. I woke up wanting to see the world burn yesterday, because I’m tired of seeing black men die. He casually put his knee on a human being’s neck for nine minutes as he died like a zebra in the clutch of a lion’s jaw.”
“So that’s why children are burning it to the ground. They don’t know what else to do. And it is the responsibility of us to make this better right now.”
The Black Lives Matter movement was founded after the 2013 acquittal of the police officer responsible for the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. The international movement campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black communities, as well as addressing larger issues such as police brutality, racial profiling, and racial inequality within the criminal justice system.
2020 has now seen three prominent cases of police brutality against African-American citizens, including the shooting of Breonna Taylor in March, and the shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in February. The officer responsible for Arbery’s death was not convicted until a video of the murder was released online in May.
In comparison, the Minnesotan Somali-American police officer who shot and killed white Australian Justine Damond turned himself into authorities and was sentenced to 12 years and six months imprisonment last year. The case became closely associated with the acquittal of officer Jeronimo Yanez of the exact same charge, following the murder of 32-year-old African-American man Philando Castile.
“I have an enormous platform and I try really hard to be respectful and take time to think through what I say and how I say it… But holy fucking shit I’m just gonna start talking,” Billie Eilish wrote in a post addressing the movement. She continued on to call out white privilege, and the infamous All Lives Matter counter-movement championed by white supremacists.
“No one is saying your life doesn’t matter (…) No one is saying literally anything at all about you… All you MFs do is find a way to make everything about yourself.
“(I’m gonna try to explain this as if you were a child because it feels like that’s the only way you MFs will understand),” she continues. “If your friend gets a cut on their arm are you gonna wait to give all your friends a bandaid first because all arms matter? No you’re gonna help your friend because they are in pain because they are in need because they are bleeding!”
View this post on Instagram
On Sunday, Governor of Minnesota Tim Walz announced that he had received a personal phone call from Jay-Z. Walz revealed that the rapper and record executive spoke about holding the four police officers involved in Floyd’s murder accountable, “Justice needs to be served here. Justice needs to be served.”
“It was so incredibly human. It wasn’t Jay-Z international celebrity, it was a dad and quite honestly a black man with visceral pain that he knew,” Walz tweeted.
The officer directly responsible for Floyd’s passing has since been detained, however, protesters are calling for all officers at the scene to be held accountable, and for systemic change to occur within the American criminal justice system.
“If intentional MURDER is the fit consequence for “drugs” or “resisting arrest”….then what’s the fit consequence for MURDER???!” Rihanna asks in an Instagram post. Beyonce also made a video calling for fans to sign a petition to bring the perpetrators to justice.
View this post on Instagram
View this post on Instagram
again, i ask my followers to please keep signing these petitions, making donations if u are able to, continue having conversations w family and friends about racism (overt and covert) and the senseless acts of murder that happen in this country far too often, please keep reading up, following accounts on here (i will recommend some!) to keep u updated and learning and sharing links and resources.. our black friends need us to show up and to be better and to be vocal. now more than ever. online. offline even more so. this is more than a post. we have to show up. there is work that needs to be done and it is absolutely on us to do it. #blacklivesmatter here are some accounts i’ve followed that have helped me understand more about my privilege and how to use it to help others. @privtoprog @rachel.cargle @thegreatunlearn @blklivesmatter please feel free to recommend some more as well in my comments.