More than a Moment

Evan Vezmar, Contributing Writer

This summer, the country went through underwent immense changes as the COVID-19 pandemic upended lives and calls for racial justice and police reform echoed across the nation. Protests and marches were commonplace as people stood up to the racial inequalities that occur daily in the United States.

On May 25, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck and didn’t get off until Floyd died eight minutes and 46 seconds later. Under suspicion of buying a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, Chauvin and fellow officers Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng were called to arrest Floyd.

The entire encounter was recorded by security cameras of nearby businesses as well as by people in the crowd surrounding Floyd. A video of George Floyd begging for his life went viral and, through social media, grabbed the attention of millions of people. Weeks of protest followed throughout Minnesota and around the country.

The day after Floyd’s murder, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey reported on Facebook that the Minneapolis Police Department had fired all four officers involved in the murder. However, people demanded more action. That evening, thousands protested across Minneapolis and in front of the Third Precinct. The protests turned violent quickly, as vandalists broke the windows of the precinct and spray painted the door. In response, police officers threw tear gas and flash-bang devices into the crowds. In the days following, protests began to explode all over the nation.

Pent-up anger seemed to spill out as millions of people across the United States marched in the streets pushing for police reformation and justice for Floyd. Protests were mainly peaceful, but looting and instances of violence also occured, causing a clash with police officers in riot gear and National Guard members.

These protests did not only occur in the United States, though. All over the world, people marched in the streets for Floyd. In almost all professional sports games in the U.S. and even in other countries, players knelt before their game in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Even more recently, after the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team refused to play at all, becoming the first NBA team in history to boycott a playoff game. The NBA responded by postponing all games and other major sports such as the MLB came to a temporary halt as well.

The Black Lives Matter movement has only grown since its creation in 2013. After hundreds of shootings of African Americans by police officers, people in this country–and around the world–have finally reached a tipping point. The four former police officers involved in George Floyd’s death may have been charged for the murder but there is still a long way to go. Until the issues of systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans are resolved, there will continue to be people making their voices heard, clamoring for change.