The Black Lives Matter movement is not a new one. It has been righting for change since 2013, with a hashtag that shone a light on the death of Trayvon Martin in February 2012. The deplorable police brutality of the case, which was not an isolated incident.
This influx of the movement felt deep and far. With protest and partitions forming across the world. The reach of BLM message is translating to conversations of how other nations handle the issue of racial discrimination within law enforcement. The protest feel different and the message is not focused on individual stories. But rather addresses entrenched racial issues many modern government systems instill. The movement is demanding fundamental change on all levels of power. Rather than justice for the isolated stories that gain media attention. You have to think, if George Floyd’s death is a representation for the norm for people of colour in America. There have to be thousands of cases that are not captured.
The mass of protesting and the pressure to the government must lead to change, right? How much development on a fundamental level has occurred in the weeks after the death of George Floyd?
The problem is politics is a lot of talk with little action and progressive legislators looking to shift the dial on police reform face many roadblocks. More than half of the USA state legislatures are out of session, due to the Covid 19 crisis. While the need for change is now with allies are finally coming to the table. The hype around the issue may only be a slight shift. Bills and law amendments being the start of the change to decades of emotional and social impact. Created by the strained relationship between people of colour, and the American police force.
Also worth noting, changes in state ligation may not always impact individual communities. As city governments and councils decide how they fund their police force and manage public relationships.
From what is being highlighted, the main areas of focus are; banning chokeholds and carotid restraints, delivering more transparency on police misconduct and establishing an independent agency to investigate misconduct. These areas of focus sound great in theory, but, if they have any lasting impact is yet to surface.
Activist groups want deeper action. By pulling funding from police enforcement agencies and channelling the funds into youth initiatives and social services. BAsed around youth employment and support, housing reform and development of community services. These changes needed alongside changes in legislation to ensure the racial divides change and law enforcement opinion shifts.
Daniel Feldman, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Stated he is "cautiously' optimistic that the rush of legislation suggests change will continue to come, even after the daily protests ebb.
“The unjustified killing of Black Citizens has little by little changed people's wrong assumptions about interactions with the police,” Feldman said. “We may see the reactions to George Floyd's death as instant, but the psychological shift has happened over a period of time. It may be a permanent shift in opinion.”
So far New York, New Jersey, Minneapolis, California, Minnesota, Iowa, Colorado, Kansas, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Oregon, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Michigan have either passed bills, introduced or amended Policing Bills. While Mississippi, Georgia, North Carolina, Delaware, and New Hampshire have no Police bills added since George Floyd's death.
New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, announced on June 7, 2020, that funding cuts from the NYPD. While Mr. de Blasio declined to comment the amount suggested, he stated the realise of details with the July 1 budget deadline. The pulled funds planned for youth initiatives and social services.
“The details will be worked out in the budget process in the weeks ahead, but I want people to understand that we are committed to shifting resources to ensure that the focus is on our young people,” De Blasio said.
On the same Sunday in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died by the held knees of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, change towards reform have also begun. Nine members of the city council voted to dismantle the city’s police agency and replace it with a new system of public safety.
“Our commitment is to end policing as we know it and to recreate systems of public safety that keep us safe,” said Lisa Bender,
President of the Minneapolis City Council. The announcement followed after Minneapolis agreed the week before ban chokeholds and neck restraints by police. With the city council also agreeing to requirements for officers try to stop colleagues from using improper force, the Associated Press reported.
The Los Angeles Times reported, California police agencies announced that they will prevent officers from employing carotid neck restraints. Followed by approval to slash the Department’s budget by $150 million dollars. Amid a change to defund the Los Angeles Police Department by 90%, the Los Angeles City Council Budget and Finance Committee approved a budget proposal to slash the Department’s budget by $150 million dollars.
A 90% cut to the LAPD would free funds for alternatives to policing, such as housing, healthcare, mental health, and other social programs, reported by California Globe. The move started when Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, said he would scrap a plan to boost police funding, Instead utilising the funds on alternatives to policing, such as housing, healthcare, mental health, and other social programs.
In Portland, Oregon, police officers will no longer serve at high schools, reported on Oregon Live.
In Dallas, Texas, officials announced that chokeholds, and any airway-restricting techniques, planned for removal from police practise. Reported in Dallas News.
In the city of Washington DC, meanwhile, local legislation could pass banning police chokeholds and speed up the public release of police body-camera footage. The decision on change should not only be rooted in laws and legislation. The issue of institutional racism is one of culture and relationship, the laws of the past reflects the one-sided position modern society has historically taken on the issue. There have been a few notable shifts on a culture front that are moving in the right direction to creating change in everyday life.
The Grammys have announced they will no longer use the word “urban” to refer to music of Black origin. Rename the award for “Best Urban Contemporary Album” to “Best Progressive R&B album, according to the BBC.
The 32 season long TV series Cops, which victimises people of colour as the centrepiece to American crime, will cease from the Paramount Network. These small measures of change may seem as little wins. But the power of the message they sending are enormous. There needs to be a complete lockdown to media messages that single out black people with harmful stereotypes, and this starts on a cultural level.
There have been shake ups within several large corporations with big public profiles. Showing there is a small shift on how the wider society is handling the social issue of institutional racism.
After stating in a recorded Zoom meeting, obtained by BuzzFeed News, CrossFit CEO and founder Greg Glassman Said: “We’re not mourning for George Floyd – I don’t think me or any of my staff are.” After public pressure, CrossFit distanced from Glassman, and he stepped down after questioning the existence of systemic racism and downplaying the protests.
Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian stepped down from the company’s board of directors, and urged the company to fill his board seat with a black candidate. The company has since announced that Y Combinator partner Michael Seibel, who is black, would replace Ohanian.
There is change occurring and the conversation on institutional racism is moving forward. As the daily protests ebb and the media spotlight shifts, we must continue to fight for change. Pressuring government systems to provide the reasoning behind why the dial of change has not shifted sooner. If not now than when?
On a side note, in standard performance from the troll doll in the white house. President Trump has given no public support to the movement or the protests.
Followed by the attorney general, William Barr, saying that he believes the law enforcement system is not "systematically racist".
“I think one of the best examples is the military. The military used to be an explicitly racist institution. And now I think it’s in the vanguard of bringing the races together and providing equal opportunity. I think law enforcement has been going through the same process,” Barr quoted saying in the Guardian. We still have a long way to go.