We are currently in the midst of history. We grew up learning about the Civil Rights Movement and now we are living in it once again.
Many don’t believe the youth are capable of coming together and fighting the good fight. However, in the 50s and 60s the youth were an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement and it is the youth of today that are stepping up and saying no more. It is true that many young people today have a short attention span. With social media and the constant streaming of information, it can be very difficult to maintain focus on one thing. However, whether you have heard about it or not, across the country people have been protesting and continue to do so. But in Ferguson as well as Chicago and many other places across America, there have been die-ins, marches, and other acts of civil disobedience in the name of justice. This is no fluke.
It began in Ferguson with Mike Brown. The media tried to focus on the rioting and looting that took place, but overall, it was people taking to the streets who could take it no more. We covered the beginning of the movement from the start. People were tired of watching as black lives were taken without consequence and decided to stand up. Other deaths like Eric Garner, John Crawford, and Vonderrit Myers also sparked outrage and cries for justice. People wanted everybody to know that Black Lives Matter.
After the initial surge, the movement carried on, but more quietly, until they announced that there would be no indictment for Mike Brown’s murderer. Sadness and outrage spread and it revitalized the cries for justice. When shortly after, Eric Garner’s killer was also not indicted it became too much. The cries of I Can’t Breathe and Shut It Down took new life and people began shutting down highways and even shutdown Wal-Marts and malls on Black Friday. It became clear that people would no longer take it silently. Thousands spilled out into the streets demanding that something be done.
Since then the killings of Tamir Rice, and Antonio Martin have continued to incite the people. Many have opinions about the message and the method, particularly after 2 cops were killed in New York. But the movement continues, in spite of the cold weather and the indications are that it will not be slowing. Many are already planning for more demonstrations in the spring.
So far there was a call from President Obama for body cameras for police as well as extended training. However, Congress did not include that in their budget. Either way, as shown in the killing of Antonio Martin, who was killed by a cop wearing a body cam that was not on, that is not the answer. The call across the board is for large-scale reform and changes in the policy of deadly force by police. It needs to be declared once and for all that it is a crime for police to murder unarmed black men and women.
This has all pulled the covers off the underlying racial issues that still exist in this country. We were led to believe for many years that racism was over and we were living in post-racial America. But between these killings, the resurgence of the KKK and the terrible slurs and comments being posted all over Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, racism is still all too real. The fight is not over. There is still work to be done.
Salute to all of those in the original Civil Rights Movement who brought us through slavery and Jim Crow. We are grateful to all of the major heroes of that era who lived and died so that we could make it to this point. Now it is time for a new Civil Rights era and new leaders who will lead us into the next phase so that those who come behind us will not have to fight this fight. To every person across the nation who have written, protested, laid down in the street, been arrested, tear gassed, hit with rubber bullets, who have suffered from racists and trolls, who have declared enough is enough, you are a part of a powerful movement and should be very proud of yourselves.
We are all tired of the hashtags. People should not have to live in fear that they or someone they love will run across a police officer who will kill them and then have them convicted of their own murder. This is not an anti-police movement. It is an anti-police brutality movement. It is clear that many policemen across the nation have taken on absolute powers which have gone unchecked for far too long. We have to regain sight of what their duties truly are. They are not the judge, jury and executioner. It is unfortunate that we are back to fighting for basic human rights, but we must continue on. This must stop! Rest in peace to all who have lost their life in the struggle. May justice come at last.
To find actions and protests near you go to fergusonresponse.tumblr.com.