After two weeks of heartache, violence, justice and peaceful displays of solidarity, the past weekend has seen some of the best displays in humanity and allyship in recent years. Following the killing of George Floyd, protests erupted across America in almost every state and by the weekend, marches were seen in major cities throughout the world, including here in Australia. Looking past fear mongering and the spotlight on destruction – only a small aspect of these protests – positive change and movement has been made for #BlackLivesMatter.
From Minneapolis declaring it will dismantle its police department to the mural painted on 16th Street in Washington D.C., here are the most powerful moments from a movement gaining massive momentum – a weekend for the history books.
Minneapolis will dismantle its police department
No one will ever forget the moment George Floyd’s life was taken at the hands of a white police officer. It was the spark that would ignite massive protests across the country. The officers involved have been charged but residents are hungry for more and over the weekend, the Minneapolis City Council pledged to dismantle the police department, with a “new model of public safety” to be created.
‘black lives matter’ was painted on 16th street in front of the white house
President Donald Trump’s response to the protests has been heavily criticised. In a defiant move from Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), the council leader sanctioned the painting of ‘Black Lives Matter’ onto 16th Street which runs towards the White House in yellow, block letters. A portion of the thoroughfare was also renamed to “Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
“There are people who are craving to be heard and to be seen and to have their humanity recognised,” Bowser said during a news conference Friday. “And we had the opportunity to send that message loud and clear on a very important street in our city. That message is to the American people that black lives matter, black humanity matters, and we as a city raise that up.”
The mural is believed to be visible from some satellites and has been recognised by Google and Apple maps.
Breonna Taylor, on your birthday, let us stand with determination.
Determination to make America the land it ought to be. pic.twitter.com/XOfu6CGEGY
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 5, 2020
protestors threw edward colston statue into the harbour
Edward Colston was known as an 17th and 18th century slave trader believed to have transported 84,000 men, women and children from Africa to the Americas. His statue, until now, stood in Bristol in the UK with protestors throwing the bronze into the harbour over the weekend. Mayor Marvin Rees said he felt no “sense of loss” after it was pulled down, however Prime Minister Boris Johnson described it as a “criminal act”. Police made the decision not to intervene according to reports.
in australia, thousands turned up to protest justice for indigenous lives
In every major city around Australia, citizens turned up in tens of thousands to protest for the lives of the Aboriginal community. In Sydney, New South Wales, it was ruled unlawful to attend the march due to COVID-19 risks on Friday by the Supreme Court. At the eleventh hour and a dramatic turn of events, the New South Wales Court of Appeal ruled it lawful and allowed the “Stop All Black Deaths in Custody” rally to go ahead. 20,000 people were accounted for in attending the peaceful protest. As of Tuesday morning, 437 Indigenous people have died in Australian police custody according to The Guardian.
michelle obama encourages activism past hashtags and posts
Following on from husband and former U.S. President Barack Obama’s Town Hall Address, Michelle Obama delivered her virtual graduation speech this weekend. During her address, she spoke on police brutality and activism, urging people to do more than hashtags and posts in a bid for real change.
“Sometimes it’s easier to stand with strangers at a protest than it is to challenge someone in your own backyard. So if you hear people express bigoted views or talking down to ‘those people,’ it is up to you to call them out. Because we won’t solve anything if we’re only willing to do what’s easiest. You’ve got to make hard choices and sacrifice. If you’re spending a lot of time just hash tagging and posting, that’s useful, especially during a pandemic, but it’s only a beginning. Go further. Send all your friends a link to register to vote. Text everybody you know to join you to exercising their constitutional right to protest.”