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Protesting For Justice

It seems that many have forgotten, or unfortunately fail to understand that we are all created equally. The Civil War in America in 1861 divided our nation but it had to happen because no matter what political team one was on, the war was necessary to bring an end to slavery in America.

With more than 1.5 million deaths and thousands injured, slavery did not end even after the battles were over in 1865. Even with the freeing of roughly 3 million enslaved people in southern states when President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, slavery did not come to a sudden stop. Many people, primarily in southern, rebel states, kept men, women, and children as slaves for many years after the end of the war.  

In 1865, the 13th Amendment was added to the United States Constitution and abolished slavery in the United States.

Photo by Girma Nigusse on Unsplash

The 13th Amendment

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The 13th Amendment was created to establish equality for black Americans. Even now in 2020 however, that equality is not in full effect as it should have been 155 years ago when the senate (April 8, 1864) and house (January 31, 1865) signed to pass it into law.

Today, our country is amid a new Civil War. We may not be on the same battlefields as those men who fought more than 150 years ago, but we are in a battle, nonetheless.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Black Lives Matter


While some seem to be “offended” by the Black Lives Matter movement and want to counter that with “all lives matter’ there seems to be a complete misunderstanding of what black lives matter even means. First, it certainly does not mean that all lives do not matter. Of course, all lives matter. This is common sense.

Black Lives Matter was created to bring action against inequality, racism, and state violence in response to racism and violence against black people. The movement is peaceful and welcoming to all people to lead and learn about empathy, justice, freedom, respect, and the fact that yes, black lives matter!

It is important for society to gain a better understanding of how black men, women, and even children are racially profiled, by white as well as black police officers and by society.

Yes, white people are killed by the police every year, but when black people make up only 13.4% of the overall United States population (2019 United States Census) we have a major problem when black lives are taken at more than 54% by police killings annually.

According to Statistica.com, the rate of fatal police shootings involving black people is 30 per million while fatal police shootings involving white people are only 12 per million. Remember, black people in the United States make up only 13.4% while white people make up 76.5% of the overall population.

The fact is there is no justification for the violence and racial profiling that the black community must face today.

Photo by munshots on Unsplash

I Can’t Breathe

The death of George Floyd on May 25 sparked outrage and protests to shine a light on police brutality and to bring the world together to end it once and for all. The world watched in horror as Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyds’ neck for nearly nine minutes.

8 minutes and 46 seconds. How can anyone possibly kneel on a person’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds and not know they are causing harm? They cannot.

Floyd’s last words were,

“I didn’t do nothing serious man.”

“Please.”

“Please.”

“Please, I can’t breathe.”

“Please, man.”

“Please, somebody.”

“Please, man.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“Please.”

“Man, can’t breathe,”

“My face.”

“Just get up.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“Please.”

“I can’t breathe, shit.”

“I will.”

“I can’t move.”

“Mama.”

“Mama.”

“I can’t.”

“My knee.”

“My nuts.”

“I’m through.”

“I’m through.”

“I’m claustrophobic.”

“My stomach hurts.”

“My neck hurts.”

“Everything hurts.”

“Some water or something.”

“Please.”

“Please.”

“I can’t breathe, officer.”

“Don’t kill me.”

“They gon’ kill me man.”

“Come on, man.”

“I cannot breathe.”

“I cannot breathe.”

“They gon’ kill me.”

“They gon’ kill me.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“Please, sir.”

“Please.”

“Please.”

“Please, I can’t breathe.”

After the last time he spoke those words, “I. Can’t. Breathe.” George Floyd became unresponsive yet Derek Chauvin maintained his stance with his knee pressed to the neck, holding Floyd down for yet another 2 minutes and 43 seconds.

“I can’t breathe” should not be the last words of a man when being detained for any reason by the police yet those words have become synonymous with black lives being taken by the police.

Those were Eric Garner’s last words when New York City Police Department Officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold on July 17, 2014. Garner’s crime? Suspicion of selling single cigarettes without tax stamps on a city street.

On December 3, 2014, the grand jury determined there would be no charges placed against Daniel Pantaleo.

Manuel Ellis, who had just left from a church choir practice to walk home cried those same words on March 3, 2020, when Tacoma, Washington police beat him after he approached their car on a street. A witness stated that she watched the incident unfold and tried to intervene by yelling, “Stop. Oh my God, stop hitting him. Just arrest him.”

Ellis, who witnesses have stated did not appear to be posing a threat and seemed to be having a normal conversation with the police, was tasered and beaten and then police laid on top of him. Manuel Ellis begged for medical help and repeatedly stated to officers, “I can’t breathe” before he died.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

Protests

Let’s not confuse protests and violent riots. Although they often coincide, they are not one in the same. The world needs protests to happen because without people voicing their anger at the current situation, nothing will ever happen to change the world. Rioting happens for many reasons and one of those includes the fact when people are holding a peaceful protest, the police often show up in riot gear and further fuel the anger and confusion that protesters feel due to the injustice that is happening.

Protesting helps people know they have support from others who have the same beliefs and want to see justice served. They provide a much needed voice for minorities and they garner attention from political leaders who need to work with the public to make positive changes in a local community, or across the nation. Without protests, human rights as we know them today would not be available in the United States.

For those who have never been to a Black Lives Matter protest, now would be the perfect time to venture out to one in your local community to meet the organizers and speak directly with those who have taken their time to march in protest of racial inequality and violence that is directed on the black population. Direct communication is key to understanding a movement that will ultimately benefit all men, women, and children including black and white, Hispanic and Asian, and all others.

Keep in mind that protesting is a legal right granted to each of us by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The Gettysburg Address:

On November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Lincoln delivered his ten-sentence, 272-word Gettysburg Address.

“Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure.

 We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives, that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract.

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Being black in America should not be a crime, yet statistics show that our black brothers and sisters are targeted at a disproportionately high rate not only by the police but by others in society.

It’s past time for racial inequality and injustice to come to an end and for the world to stand up for what is right.

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