One Big Thing: America struggles with death of George Floyd, inequality and injustice
Do you support the rights of peaceful protesters?
What is it?
- Over the weekend demonstrators across the United States protested the tragic death of George Floyd and police brutality. In some unfortunate cases, protesters clashed with law enforcement officers while other law enforcement officers were seen marching side by side with the protesters.
- In some cities, stores, government building and monuments were vandalized and looted, leading to over 4,000 arrests nationwide. This has led to many impromptu city-wide or regional lockdowns as over 45 million Americans were forced to stay at home on Sunday night.
- While these protests are occurring, many have continued to encourage demonstrators to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines as the COVID-19 pandemic remains prevalent around the country.
- On Friday, May 29, a CNN news crew was arrested on live TV, drawing attention to some law enforcements’ unjust treatment of journalists covering the protests. Since, multiple reports of journalists facing tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray have surfaced.
Why is it important?
- Freedom of assembly and the right to protest are both protected for all citizens by the Constitution and are vital tool of democracy. When a society does not see eye to eye with its officials, non-violent civic protest is an effective instrument to bring these issues to the forefront of the conversation.
- Police brutality is a human rights violation and should be condemned whenever it occurs. The death of George Floyd highlights this issue but it must be addressed in the same universal lens with which we regard police brutality around the world.
- Many political and thought leaders have spoken out against violent protest. President Obama reminded Americans to “not excuse violence, or rationalize it, or participate in it”.
- Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said, "I think one of the most important things that a leader can do right now, and I went through this in 2015 during the riots in Baltimore. One of my primary focuses was to try to lower the temperature,"
- Throughout history, non-violent protest has been proven to affect societal-wide sustainable change. Looking back at the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, amongst others has demonstrated the effectiveness and universality of encouraging peaceful change.
What can you do?
- Learn more about past non-violent revolutions from the Martin Luther King Jr. Center and Amnesty International
- Check out some tips for addressing this sensitive issue with your family and kids.
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