On May 25th, a 46 year old African American man named George Floyd was murdered by law enforcement. Four police officers responded to a call from workers at a corner store stating that George Floyd had paid with a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. Police officer Derek Chauvin, assisted by three other officers, strangled George Floyd for up to nine minutes with his knee deep in the back of Floyds neck, despite lack of resistance on the side of the victim. George Floyd gasped for air as he repeatedly stated “I can’t breathe” multiple times. Unbothered by his words, Chauvin continues to choke Floyd with his knee even after he becomes unconscious. This man died a devastating death moments after he was rushed to the hospital. George Floyd is one among many African American citizens who have been victims of racially stimulated violence.
On February 23rd, Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man was shot while jogging in broad daylight. On March 13th, Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old African American woman, was shot by police officers in her own home. These are just two recent examples of a cascade of events leading us to these worldwide protests against racism with the final straw being the brutal murder of this innocent black man George Floyd. These gruesome acts have stimulated a mass movement across the globe against racism and police brutality. People all over the world are vocalizing the devastating effect of the oppression in our society and how it translates into police brutality. There seems to be a revitalized sense of awareness that is resurfacing across the globe.
Millions around the world are peacefully protesting as they advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement with the goal to fight against racism in the United States. Throughout these protests, all races, religions, and backgrounds are unified as they continue to take a stand against racism. These peaceful protestors are using tactics such as chanting, marching, kneeling, linking arms, moments of silence, petitioning, picketing, and their power is in their numbers. However, where these protests are unifying the American people, the riots and destruction bring us apart.
Enraged by Floyds death, rioters have set fire to multiple American cities, looted businesses, and killed innocent protesters all in the name of justice. While many of those who riot are driven by anger and sorrow, their actions are construed by the public as a war against our own American people. This is our chance to stand together, while peacefully and rightfully fighting against racism. While a selection of these rioter’s motivation is justice, most of those looting and destroying businesses seem to have selfish intentions. This is detrimental due to the unemployment rate reaching an all-time low because of Covid-19. Businesses are pushed to their breaking point as they have been shut down for months on end. Rioters who are burning down businesses such as Target, Wendy’s and other small businesses that employ black Americans are leaving them without jobs to support themselves. While these riots are placing the issue of racism at the center of the media, the consequences will be devastating for the American people and ultimately shed a negative light on the movement.
The police themselves have been playing a role in these protests as seen on the media. Some officers engage in violent actions against peaceful protesters while others march with the protesters against police brutality. Many officers are antagonizing protesters with violent and aggressive tactics such as physical aggression, tear gas and shooting rubber bullets, creating mayhem throughout what was previously a peaceful protest. Officers who are more effective with protest groups are those who respect those protesting and give them the freedom to stand up for themselves and guide the peaceful protests versus attempting to shut them down. In addition, those who kill and are accessories to the unjustified death of a person of any race should be charged with an appropriate punishment. Rightfully, the former police officer Derek Chauvin is in custody and is now facing charges for second degree murder. The three other police officers are also facing charges of accessory in this murder as well.
When it comes to any social movement, there are those who operate with genuine intention out of respect and a desire for justice, and unfortunately there are those who respond aggressively and without respect for life or justice. In the case of the Black Lives Matter protests, there are people on both sides that embody these opposing attributes. As a Christian, one cannot condone racist or violent behavior. As a pro-life advocate, one must fight for the lives which are endangered every single day. We must speak up against injustice, as everyone has a right to life regardless of the color of their skin. Due to those responsibilities, we must lift up those who protest for justice of the invaluable lives of the oppressed and denounce those with ulterior motives.