Voices of protest screaming for change are ringing through the US, beyond

Voices of protest screaming for change are ringing through the US, beyond

They are nurses and doctors, artists, students, construction workers, government officials; black, brown and white; Young and old.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of major cities and small towns in every US state – and even around the world – to protest the murder of George Floyd, who died after a police officer pressed his knee in the neck while he begged. for air.

They say they protest police brutality, as well as the systematic racism that non-white Americans have experienced since the birth of the country. Many say they marched so that one day, when their children asked what they were doing at this historic moment, they could say that they stood up for justice despite all the risks.

Most say they don’t support the violence, fires, and break-ins that some demonstrations have consumed, but some understand it: these are desperate acts of desperate people who have been crying for generations in a world they don’t want to hear.

But suddenly everyone seems to pay attention at least.

About half of American adults now say that police brutality against the public is a “very” or “extremely” serious problem, up from about a third in September last year, according to a new survey by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Business Research. Only about 3 in 10 said the same in July 2015, just a few months after Freddie Gray, a black man, died in Baltimore police custody.

Some protesters describe the loss of friends and family by bullets from the police, and what it feels like to fear the people who have sworn to protect you. Their white counterparts say they could no longer let their black neighbors carry this burden alone.

Some describe institutional racism as a pandemic as cruel and deadly as the corona virus. A white Oregon nurse who traveled to New York City to work in a COVID ward saw up close how minorities die disproportionately from the disease due to underlying health problems caused by intergenerational poverty and lack of health care. So, after spending four days at the ICU, she spent her day off with protesters on the streets of Brooklyn.

The stories of these protesters, several of which are told here, thunder throughout the country and compel a settlement with racism.

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“They are afraid of us”

Lavel White was a high school junior living in a public home in a predominantly black, historically impoverished Louisville neighborhood when he turned on the news and saw a police officer acquitted for shooting a young black man in the back.

Next time, he thought, it might be me.

The murder of 19-year-old Michael Newby in 2004 sparked White’s activism. He is now a documentary filmmaker and community coordinator for the Louisville mayor’s office.

Still, he knows that if he was run over and made a wrong move, he could die.

He’s had his own terrifying confrontations with the police, treated like a criminal for a broken taillight and another time in case of a wrong identity. There are also the smaller things, such as white women who grab their wallets when he passes them on the street.

“They fear people’s black skin. They fear us. They see every black man as a criminal, as a criminal, “he said. “The vigilantes, the police. People keep killing us and it has to stop. ”

He’s been around the protests almost every night and worries that his neighbors will live with the trauma for the rest of their lives: the military truck in the city streets, the tear gas, the boom of bangs, soldiers with assault rifles, police in riot gear.

He and his wife have a 2-year-old daughter and a son, who was born just three months ago.

“Only because of the color of his skin, will he be held back by the suppression of 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow Laws and injustice, inequalities, racism, he will have to walk and live that life,” he said.

They want him to become strong enough to stand up for his rights and his community.

So they called him brave.

– By Claire Galofaro

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“FATHER FORGIVE THEM”

Once, when George Jefferson was a college student in California, he rolled over to a party with several friends, just as people were rushing to leave. Sirens blared.

“I hear, ‘Get out of the car,’ so I swing my door open. When I look to the left, I see the barrel of a gun in my face, ”said Jefferson, who is 28 and now a fourth grade teacher in Kansas City, Missouri. “And I’m like cold sweats, it’s not visible, but I feel it. My heart is beating really fast. He said, ‘I said I’m not getting out of the car.’ And then I realized I had heard this agent wrong. “

He was given a strict warning to follow the police instructions. However, his discomfort increased after another meeting with the police shortly after, in which a friend was arrested and forced to sit on the curb. Police said the car’s label had expired; his friend argued. The advice they received was to file a complaint.

“But that didn’t address the feelings and dehumanization that went with it,” Jefferson recalled. His experiences led him to protest, teach his students about race, demand change.

In his class, he posted photos of unrest in Baltimore and Ferguson, Missouri, where the death of Michael Brown in a white officer in 2014 sparked intense protests. He has asked students for their sightings and assigned books, such as ‘One Crazy Summer’, set in Oakland, California, in 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

Fred Hampton was one of two Black Panther Party leaders who died in a police raid on Illinois in 1969; in February Jefferson had his face tattooed on his arm. He plans to add another tattoo – a line from Scripture, Luke 23:34: “Father, forgive them; because they don’t know what they are doing. ‘

It is a reminder to fight for equality.

“That,” he said, “is a life worth living.”

– By Heather Hollingsworth

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“THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO PROTEST”

Even at the age of 36, Jahmal Cole recites the promise of his preschool graduation: “We, the class of 1988, determined to be our best at whatever we say or do, will share a smile and lend a hand to our neighbor. .. “

“It really became my life’s mission,” said Cole, the founder of a Chicago organization called My Block, My Hood, My City.

He has started an aid fund for small businesses in low-income neighborhoods damaged by protests. Helping young people in his organization’s mentoring program clean up, sweep glass, and erase graffiti.

He marches. He will scream and express his anger. But he draws the line when it is destroyed.

“We have residents who now have to go 20 minutes to get milk,” he said to a crowd gathered for a peace meeting and food distribution in Chicago’s largely African-American neighborhood of Chatham. The commercial district was hit hard by looting.

Members of the multiracial crowd nod and clap. Many of them know this man. They have heard his constant urge for neighbors to work together to make change.

Cole wants his neighbors to organize. “There is no structure in the gangs, which is why there is all this shooting. There is no structure for the protests and that is why there is all this looting,” he wrote in a column recently published in the Chicago Tribune.

And he wants to build on the momentum. “I want to make sure we protest by calling our local officials … by going to the school board,” he told the crowd. “There are other ways to protest.”

– By Martha Irvine

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‘YOUTH IS NOW UNPATIENT’

Growing up as a black Muslim in the racially and religiously homogeneous state of Utah, Daud Mumin always knew he was treated differently.

He still vividly remembers his 15th birthday when his mother, an immigrant from Somalia, was arrested for speeding – a routine traffic stop that grew into an hour of interrogation, ruining his special dinner.

And he remembers the question that none of his white classmates were asked on the first day of AP French in his junior year, “Are you in the right class?”

The Black Lives Matter movement gave Mumin a place where he felt at home, and the protests around the world since Floyd’s death give him hope that things will change.

“It’s wonderful to see such big and consistent results and turnouts in these protests,” said Mumin, a 19-year-old sophomore at university majoring in Justice and Communications. “When I was 14 years old, I never thought such a world would exist.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s not angry and impatient. He wants the movement to lead to the lifting of the police. His Twitter handle, “Daud hates the police,” shows his grudge.

He said protesters should not deliberately go to demonstrations to cause violence, nor wait for the government to make things better.

What does it take to finally crumble these suppressive systems? If peace is not the answer, then violence must exist, “said Mumin. “America has finally had enough of waiting for action to be taken. The young are not tired. The young are now impatient. I think we’ve finished waiting and hanging around until justice is done. ”

– By Brady McCombs

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“I FEEL Anger”

Becca Cooper traveled from Oregon to New York in early April and retired from her job as an intensive care nurse to help fight the city’s corona virus pandemic.

It entered an unfair battle – one of which affects more communities than others.

“I’ve had three white patients in the past seven weeks,” she said. “I’m pretty sure New York is no less than 1% white.”

“We all read in the newspaper that COVID has a disproportionate impact on color communities. It’s so in your face at the ICU. ‘

The experience has highlighted Cooper’s frustrations with the healthcare system: “I see it every day and it is devastating.” It was also disgusting when she watched the video of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.

That rage brought this white nurse to the streets of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn last week, where she marched with hundreds of protesters in her pale blue medical scrubs.

“I feel anger,” she said. ‘I feel sad. I feel frustrated. I feel disbelief. I became a nurse to save as many lives as possible. I would like to believe that someone who chose to become a police officer would feel the same way.

“I feel so frustrated. I don’t work here every day to save as many lives as possible so that police officers can choose to take those lives. ”

– By Jake Seiner

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SWEDEN IN SOLIDARITY

Aysha Jones lives a world off the street in Minneapolis where George Floyd died – more than 4,200 miles, 6,800 kilometers, in Sweden. But she felt that she had to protest.

“I got involved out of sheer frustration and a desire to see myself, my kids, my fellow black siblings around the world seeing a better life, being equal and being seen as who we are,” said Jones , who was born in The Gambia.

Her experience of racism was that of a first-generation outsider – she remembers classmates throwing burnt Swedish meatballs at her, since she was no longer worth anything.

Many black people living in Sweden are recent immigrants from Africa – the nation has had very few colored people in the past 50 years. Sweden ranks high on the equality indices and prides itself on liberal migration policies, but Jones says bigotry is far from overcoming.

“We’ve had politicians here in Sweden who normally never recognize that racism is a structural problem, it’s just as much a pandemic as COVID-19,” she said. “Our politicians normally just dare to push it off and say,” No, it doesn’t happen here, it happens there. “Anywhere there.”

The nation has strict rules regarding public gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, so Jones helped launch digital protests.

Jones urged people to participate in a virtual demonstration anchored by a small group of activists and speakers in front of the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, flooding the embassy’s Facebook page with a photo of the Black Lives Matter- logo and the words ‘Sweden in Solidarity’.

More than 6,000 people watched the live video stream and more than 60,000 took part in the protest in one way or another; in the following days, thousands took to the streets in protest.

Jones, who works full-time and has three young children, is pleased that Black Lives Matter’s protests have sparked widespread discussions online and in Swedish media, but cautions that words alone are not enough.

She wants changes in the way the police are recruited and trained. She wants better laws and better efforts to ensure that the laws are observed.

“You know, money comes with power,” said Jones. “And that’s something that’s been hidden from black people, that’s been hidden from black people for centuries. So there’s so much to discuss.”

– By David Keyton

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“IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT FOR ME”

Native Australian Wendy Brookman was outraged at Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to the violent clashes on the streets of the US after George Floyd’s death with the comment.

“Thank God,” he said, “we live in Australia.”

The 37-year-old mother of five joined 2,000 people in a peaceful protest in the Australian capital of Canberra because she wants police brutality and the high number of prisoners among Aboriginal people to be placed on the Australian government’s agenda.

It’s disrespectful to families who had to bury loved ones to hear the government cover up the country’s problems, she said.

Native Australians account for 2% of the country’s adult population and 27% of the prison population.

“As a mother of five, it is extremely important to me to ensure that my children have the same rights as any other child growing up today,” said Brookman, a teacher and owner of a women’s gym.

Tens of thousands of protesters have participated in largely peaceful anti-racism meetings in all major cities of Australia since Floyd’s death. A focus: an Australian police officer charged with the murder of a 19-year-old Aboriginal man in November.

The officer, Zachary Rolfe, has pleaded innocently and said he defended himself, and was released on bail to live with family in Canberra. Brookman believes he will be acquitted on account of Australia’s poor conviction for indigenous murders.

“It is unacceptable that we know he will not be sentenced,” she said. “It is imperative that this is a discussion being discussed and not hiding.”

– By Rod McGuirk

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“STOP KILLING MY FRIENDS”

Protesting is a passion in the Siggy Buchbinder family. Her father took part in demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the 1960s, then brought her to her first in 2003, in protest of military action in Iraq. She went on a march for women’s rights.

These demonstrations feel different, she said. There are so many young people. The momentum, she said, is building on change.

“I think people should stay on the street. I think it worked and I think it will continue to work, ”Buchbinder said. “Now is not the time to give up. Now is the time to go even faster. ‘

Even among the many white New Yorkers who took part in demonstrations after Floyd’s death, Buchbinder, 27, stands out. She is nearly six feet tall and looked even bigger with her arms raised, with a sign that said, “Stop killing my friends.”

Buchbinder was one of four white college graduates in her high school class of 172 in 2011, saying many of her friends are colored people, “It would be wrong not to be fighting with them.”

She does not lead hymns because she thinks that it should be left to black protesters to speak. She also wasn’t worried about the curfew that was in effect most of the week. Fear of what the police would do has always been something her friends should be much more concerned about than they are.

“I think my friends have always been a little nervous about the police,” said Buchbinder. “I don’t think they mess with the police during their youth. They don’t get into situations where they can get in trouble.”

– By Brian Mahoney

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‘OTHER COLORS SUPPORT PEOPLE

Around the time George Floyd died, Eileen Huang was asked to write a poem about Chinese people in the United States commemorating a new documentary about Asian Americans on PBS.

What came out instead was a blazing 1,600-word letter from the incoming Yale university student to her immigrant elders begging them to understand the huge debt to African American civil rights leaders and begging them to join a global movement to -black racism.

“We Asian Americans have long perpetuated anti-black explanations and stereotypes,” Huang wrote. “I grew up hearing family members, family friends, and even my parents make subtle, even explicitly racist comments about the black community. … The message was clear: we are the model minority – doctors, lawyers, silent and obedient overachievers. We have little to do with other colored people; we will even side with white americans to demote them. ‘

20-year-old Huang grew up in the small and largely white town of Holmdel in New Jersey. The oldest of three children of engineers who moved to the United States in the 1990s did not learn much about the history of black people in America.

Only in college, she learned of Vincent Chin’s death in 1982 from two white men who thought Chin was Japanese. The men were convicted of manslaughter, but sentenced to probation; the judge said the men were not the kind of people to go to jail.

African American leaders, especially Reverend Jesse Jackson, marched with Chin’s tormented mother in search of justice.

Huang realized that Asian Americans owe “everything” to the black Americans who spearheaded the civil rights movement, ending racist terms such as “oriental” and housing policies that kept them out of the white neighborhoods.

“We were not given the freedom to become comfortable ‘model minorities’ because we are better or hardworking, but through years of struggle and support from other marginalized communities,” she wrote.

Her outrage over Floyd’s death led her to protest in Newark, then in Asbury Park, where terrified Huang and others faced armed police officers in riot gear.

Her letter, posted on a website targeting Chinese speakers in the United States, has sparked passionate responses, including many accusing her of being a traitor and portraying dishonest Chinese in a negative light.

“I also just got very sweet (messages) from people who said, ‘My grandmother read this, my Chinese-can’t-speak English grandmother read this, and she was really touched and now she supports Black Lives Matter ,'” she says.

– By Janie Har

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“ I kneel with you ”

The Brooklyn intersection was packed with thousands of protesters, a massive demonstration to protest police brutality just days after George Floyd’s death. The police were absorbed in the crowd.

“We beg you! Please! “Says a demonstrator with a megaphone speaking directly to the officers.” Take a knee in solidarity with us. ”

Assistant chief Jeff Maddrey did that, along with a line of officers with him. The crowd lit up in a chorus of cheers as he spoke into the megaphone.

“Real talk,” he said to the crowd. “I respect your right to protest. All I ask is that you do it in peace. I kneel with you because I disagree with what happened. Listen, you are all my brothers and sisters. ”

Black, Maddrey is an accomplished officer now in charge of the NYPD’s Brooklyn North division, which includes a large, diverse portion of the borough. It has seen widespread unrest in the weeks since Floyd’s death; the Brooklyn native blames generations of inequality and tension within law enforcement and the community.

“The reason I took a knee was to bring about peace, unity and healing between members of the police and members of the community,” he said.

Maddrey said he believes the NYPD should use this as an opportunity to meet leaders of the black community and improve relationships.

“I think we just need to increase our positive contacts where, you know, young men, young black men, people of, you know, all communities feel safe with their police,” he said.

However, he stopped suggesting specific changes to police training and policies.

“There are many things that the police can transfer to other authorities and that they must transfer to other authorities. And if they take away certain responsibilities that we don’t have to do anymore and they are going to fund another agency to do that, then I personally am not against it, ” he said.

– By Colleen Long

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‘PEOPLE FINALLY UNDERSTAND’

Ashley Quinones started protesting months ago. Since her husband was shot and murdered by the Minnesota police last September, she has been attending city council meetings and state committees. She protested on street corners, once closed streets and a light rail line.

Sometimes others joined her, but most of the time she did it alone. She is no longer alone.

“Finally,” she said. “I’ve been here alone for nine months. Now people seem to finally understand what our families are going through.”

Her husband, 30-year-old Brian Quinones-Rosario, who was a Puerto Rican, was chased by police for driving irregularly. He was shot by officers just seconds after getting out of his car; he was carrying a kitchen knife and the officers said he was looking for them.

Authorities claimed he was suicidal and provoked the police to shoot him, The Associated Press previously reported. His wife denies it and says he was calm just before the shooting. In February, the Hennepin prosecutor declined to file charges against the officers, saying that their use of lethal force was “necessary, proportionate and objectively reasonable.”

But Quinones, who has filed a lawsuit against the cities involved, said they did not follow their protocol and reacted out of fear rather than deal with the situation.

“They fear black and brown bodies,” she said.

George Floyd is the face of thousands of murders. People don’t burn the city down by just George Floyd. He is the straw that broke the camel’s back and opened the eyes of people who don’t pay attention to the thousands before him. ”

She wants her husband’s case to be reopened and re-examined, and she believes that every other murder by the police should be the same. She said her white friends can’t look away now: “Now, you see. What are you going to do about it? ‘

Ever since the national protests erupted, she has been joining every day. She was a guest speaker at 15 events in one week. She was fired from a car rental company during the shutdown caused by COVID-19. Now she spends every minute of her life on this matter – even, she said, if it consumes her and she loses everything.

“I will be a homeless, car-free, unemployed demonstrator if necessary because I don’t accept it. I didn’t accept it and I don’t accept it,” she said. “They ruined my life at night. away and now I have to live with what someone else says is my life. ”

– By Claire Galofaro

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‘EVERYONE I LOVE IS BLACK’

Tachianna Charpenter grew up in Duquette, Minnesota, a city of fewer than 100 souls in the largely white northern part of the state. A mixed race, Charpenter said she constantly faced racism as the only black child in her school.

“As a kid, I vividly remember crying from school all the time and asking my mom to dye my hair blond,” she said. “I thought if I had blond hair, like many girls in my class, they would be nicer to me.”

Classmates touched her hair to see if I could feel it. They talked about dating a black woman as they got older – “not a black girl like Tachi, a real black girl.”

There was a student who whispered, “I hate black people” when she was around. And another who spat on her in the fifth grade.

Charpenter moved to St. Paul to start her education at Hamline University in 2017. There she learned the vocabulary to describe her growing experiences, words like ‘microaggressions’ and ‘implicit bias’.

In recent weeks, she joined protesters in Minneapolis after Floyd’s death. She felt compelled, “primarily because I’m black, and everyone I love is black.”

She is now 21, an assistant in special education and said she is fighting to ensure that her students don’t grow up to protest – and be gassed – on the same issues.

“Now that I am aware of these things as an adult, I am going to do my best to challenge those stories,” she said. “Especially since some of those people see me and say they look up to me, so I hope my actions make them challenge what they think.”

– By Mohamed Ibrahim

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‘STILL THE TEARS OF EMMETT SHOUT TO’

Janae Jamison grew up black in Napoleonville, Louisiana, known as ‘Plantation Country,’ and attended a mostly white private school. She felt suffocated by the fear of not being accepted.

Attending a historically black university helped her find her ‘voice’ – a voice she uses not only for George Floyd, but also for the many black men and women killed for their race.

And that brought her to the thousands who gathered around Jackson Square in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

“It’s been 401 years of oppression that has brought me here,” said Jamison, 30. “It’s been 246 years of slavery that has brought me here. It’s been 89 years of segregation that has brought me here. And from 1954 to this day 66 years after the segregation, a black man still has fewer rights than a real animal, that in the dark of night it is still good that a black man is racially profiled … and many black women too.

“I look at Sandra Bland and I see myself. I look at Breonna Taylor. I see myself. Atatiana Jefferson – I see myself. So it is very important that we mention their name and that people realize that we are not fighting for George Floyd. We still cry Emmett Till’s tears. “

– By Stacey Plaisance

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BLACK POWER … EXISTS EVERYWHERE

Nedu Anigbogu’s parents wanted more for their children, which is why they emigrated from Nigeria in the 1990s. They raised Nedu and his two older brothers in the San Francisco suburb of El Cerrito.

Today, his father is a lawyer and his mother is preparing the bar exam. Nedu, now 20, is a major in cognitive science and plans to work in artificial intelligence.

He recalls that his mother took him and his brothers aside after Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager, was fatally shot in 2012 by a neighborhood security volunteer. She warned them that people will treat them differently because of their race.

“At first I felt confusion,” he said. “Then there was a sad acceptance.”

Anigbogu wants convictions for the police who killed Floyd, as well as Breonna Taylor, an African-American emergency medical technician who was fatally shot by the Louisville Metro Police while sleeping in her own home. He wants better police training. Hij wil een einde maken aan de juridische doctrine van gekwalificeerde immuniteit die politieagenten tegen rechtszaken beschermt.

De inkomende senior van de University of California, Berkeley had petities getekend en geld gedoneerd aan de familie van George Floyd, maar hij voelde zich verplicht om persoonlijk te protesteren. Dus op 3 juni sloot hij zich aan bij wat een mars van 10.000 personen zou worden door het Mission District van San Francisco.

Iemand gaf hem een ​​paard om te rijden, dus dat deed hij.

“Om een ​​zwarte koningin op een paard te zien, een zwarte koning op een paard, die je laat zien dat je boven alles uitsteekt en die zwarte macht bestaat, en die bestaat overal”, zei Anigbogu.

– Door Janie Har

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