Within the United States constitution, the first amendment prohibits any law limiting freedom with respect to religion, expression, peaceful assembly, or the right of citizens to petition the government. These rights specifically have played tremendous roles in the shaping of a democracy as they allow for the people to have a say in the institution further advancing representation. Protests specifically have been an outlet for civilians to speak up in numbers against unlawful acts of the American government, and though they have worked in the past garnering results the nature in which they are held varies, especially in relation to one’s skin color. The American Civil Rights Movement, included a number of peaceful protests, turned violent due to the racial climate in America back in the 1950s. Brutality was inflicted upon many activists, as well as the assassinations’ of many prominent figures including Malcolm X, Reverend George Lee, and Martin Luther King Jr. The feeling the United States government has towards racial injustice is an unsteady mess, one day politicians are promoting equality and the next they are sending the national guard and task force to break up a tranquil demonstration of unrest. In the year of 2020 it was not hard to see that batons and hoses have turned into rubber bullets and tear gas. Several police reports of officers inflicting violence piled up in light of recent protest paying homage to victims of police brutality. As Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were commemorated through prayer and gathering many took to the streets in solidarity of the Black Lives Matter movement in attempt to claim justice for their wrongful deaths, during the still early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately many were met with abrupt violence from law force. The media surged with an array of videos at protests all over the world showing acts of violence towards protestors, and though according to the ACLED an overwhelming majority of the more than 9,000 Black Lives Matter demonstrations that took place across the US after the killing of George Floyd have been peaceful, almost all were under the intimidation of heavy security many ended in thousands of injuries, some very severe. In Fort Wayne, Indiana 21-year-old Balin Blake lost his right eye after an officer fired a tear gas canister directly into his face, similar to 26-year-old Brandon Saenz lost his left eye, seven teeth, and fractured his skull, after a Dallas police officer shot him in the face at close range with an unknown projectile causing these once peaceful protest to become not so peaceful. Over the course of summer 2020 protests broke out all over the world but why exactly is it that in America people of color’s voices are still being repressed and turned into hateful and violent demonstrations. Democracy doesn’t work unless all voices are heard and the push against these voices is ultimately a factor in democratic backsliding. The government’s part in restricting people’s freedom of speech directly threatens democracy but it is even more frustrating that people of color are met with different energy than those of Caucasian descent. January 6th 2021 a mob of white supremacists’ or MAGA supporters, took to the capitol building after receiving orders from former president Donald J. Trump. During his speech he claimed that the 2020 election was rigged and had been stolen from him due to the mass amount of ballot votes pouring in supporting president elect Joe Biden. He stated many things that incited the violence held at the capitol that day such as “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” proceeding with other statements like “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.” Moments later the Capitol was attacked, and as of May only 82 Have been arrested out of an estimated 800 people who participated in relation to booking hundreds of people a day for unrelated offenses the summer of George Floyd. Some police officers were even caught taking pictures with the offenders. In a Forbes article discussing the differences between BLM and Capitol Hill they stated that “Between May 30 and June 2 2020, the height of the racial justice protests, 427 “unrest-related” arrests were made in D.C., including 24 juveniles, the police department says.” This is far from equality, it is oppression.
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Hey Erin! I really appreciated one point in particular that you made, which is that American politicians have inconsistent feelings regarding racial justice. As several protests have taken place throughout the past two years, it has become quite apparent that politicians who publicly stand for racial justice will be quick to preserve law and order, likely out of fears of looting. Many cities, including Atlanta, have spent tremendous energy renaming streets and painting “Black Lives Matter” murals, but as soon as people protest the police department systematically killing unarmed Black people, the National Guard is called in within a few hours. What worries me is that recently, in response to protests in Minnesota, the National Guard had been mobilized in a degree that almost totally resembled a military occupation—tanks rolling in the street, citizens caught at the wrong place being arrested en mass, people being pulled over by heavily armed officers, etc. When white supremacists broke into the Capitol building, the National Guard was nowhere to be seen when it mattered, and the police were actually helping the rioters to climb over barriers. But the moment people protest, entire cities willingly subject their inhabitants to martial law! To me, this shows the United States is more interested in protecting property than it is at securing racial justice and providing for the rule of law.
Great blog Erin! The point you made about democracy not working unless all voices are heard really stood out to me. Because all lives can not matter until Black Lives Matter. This country see’s black skin as a threat, but it’s ok for white nationalist to attack our government institutions and leave a trail of chaos behind them. Out of those 82 that were arrested for the capital insurrection, do you think they will face harsher criminal penalties like the BLM protesters will? It’s quit interesting that police departments made that last statment that it’s not “equality but oppression” seeing as police departments were created to catch run away slaves and return them back to the plantation.
Hi, Erin! I agree that the US government has a bias in responding to issues involving one’s skin color, particularly in their justice system. Racial injustice in America still exists up to this day since The American Civil Rights Movement. Like what you have mentioned, the task force was ruthless in containing the Black Lives Matter protests compared to the attack at the Capitol, wherein protestors have obviously damaged government property and breached security. In fact, the BLM movement has more reason to exist as it calls for justice for the deaths of innocent people due to racial discrimination, while the attack at the Capitol, on the other hand, was because of the tremendous polarization in America.
Although many things have yet to be fixed after the end of the Trump administration, hopefully, Joe Biden will implement stricter grounds for those military and police personnel who exhibit racial violence during missions. This racial injustice cycle has to break. We could not afford people dying in vain just because they are not Whites. I would like to suggest that maybe you can include Obama’s response against racial discrimination in your next article. Were there any changes during his administration? More so, you could also add the government’s response to Asian Lives Matter protests, if it has a similarity with the BLM movement.