George Floyd is Changing the World
We are living in a historic moment.
Today is the eighteenth straight day of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death. People from all walks of life, of all ethnicities, races, and ages, are protesting in the streets at a scale, and with a persistence, not seen in decades.
Legendary civil rights activist Representative John Lewis (D-GA) said: "This feels and looks so different. It is so much more massive and all inclusive," Lewis said, noting that "people from all over the world [are] taking to the streets, to the roadways, to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, to do what I call getting in trouble."
As the days pass, protesters dig deeper into the nonviolent aspects of their protest. Initial looting and property damage have slowed. White supremacist agitators faced condemnation and resistance from nonviolent protesters, and failed to incite violence.
Nonviolent tactics are working in a manner we haven't seen in decades.
Following the surprising scale of the Women’s March, people flooded to the streets regularly in the first few months of this presidency. But the fleeting sense of community arising from those marches rapidly dissipated into growing despair over their lack of impact. Unlike the persistence of indigenous peoples’ occupation and resistance at Standing Rock, there was no staying power, no day after day after day presence. There were no confrontations with authorities. Many began to wonder if moments of shared understanding and intention resulting in action were a thing of the past.
But on Valentine’s day, 2018, a nineteen-year-old gunman walked into a high school in Parkland, Florida and killed seventeen students and staff, and wounded another seventeen. David Hogland streamed it live from a closet. Emma Gonzales called B.S. later in the week. Then, they and their peers organized the diverse, intersectional March for Our Lives in Washington D.C. a month later.
Students across the country caught a glimmer of their potential power and, over the next two years, began to learn, organize, and flex their nonviolent muscles. When Greta Thunberg began her weekly school strikes for climate, (week ninety-five at this writing), they were ready. She taught them how to laser focus on one issue, and how to persist. They paid close attention to the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. They learned how to flexibly and safely organize. How to defend themselves from tear gas, and paper spray, and state surveillance from the confrontations on the streets of Hong Kong.
So on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by former police officer Derek Chauvin and Black Lives Matter activists hit the streets, they were quickly followed by young people from across the country.
The video capturing the smug look on Chavin’s face, his casual hand in his pocket, George Floyd’s anguished last words, the horrifying, unnecessary length of time of Chauvin's brutality, spread. Folks who’d sat with some discomfort at earlier police killings, but whose unconscious bias allowed them to see gray then, could not deny the deliberate murder in front of them.
More people hit the streets. And for the first time in a long time, they returned the next day, and the next, and the next.
Police forces and municipal authorities now find themselves facing persistent resistance. In places where deescalation techniques and training are required, the protests have generally remained peaceful. But in others, officers’ nerves have frayed and their ability to moderate their response to the nonviolent actions has waned. Protesters across the country have repeatedly drawn out examples of the very police brutality they are protesting, and in doing so are highlighting structural power inequities. Damning evidence of police misconduct and abuse of power sweep across social media day after day, drawing more people to the streets, more supporters to the cause.
Long time activists working against police brutality, the expansion of police roles in our cities, and the industrialization and privatization of prisons, were ready with very clear demands. Campaign Zero’s #8CantWait campaign to bring immediate change to police departments by banning chokeholds, requiring de-escalation, require warning before shooting etc. was a first, though very limited, step cities across the country took up and passed.
Yet these kinds of limited reforms are just that: limited. They do not question or address the structural and institutional problems of policing in the US. And the people in the streets know this.
Calls to Defund the Police have taken over.
Minneapolis, site of George Floyd’s death, is considering disbanding their police department entirely.
By staying true to nonviolent principles, by engaging in persistent civil disobedience, and by remaining focused on clear goals, the protesters coming out into the streets of our country in the wake of George Floyd's death are changing our world for the better. Next Friday is Juneteenth, an annual celebration of the end of slavery. Please find a way to take part in the actions arising both in commemoration of the date, and in moving the rights of our fellow citizens forward.
Let's change the world.
Nonviolent Actions employed:
 The protesters employed a vast array of non-violent tactics across the country: NVA #1: Public Speeches, NVA #5: Declarations of indictment and intention, NVA #8: Banners, posters and displayed communications, NVA #12: Skywriting and earth writing, NVA #19 Wearing of symbols, NVA #20: Prayer and worship, NVA #25 Displays of portraits, NVA #26 Paint as protest, NVA #31: “Haunting” Officials, NVA #32: Taunting officials, NVA #34: Vigils, NVA #38: Marches, NVA #39: Parades, NVA #41 Pilgrimages, NVA #42 Motorcades, VA #43: Political Mourning, NVA #47 Assemblies of protest and support, NVA #52: Silence, NVA #137: Refusal of an assemblage or meeting to disperse, NVA #138 Sit-down, NVA #162 Sit-in, NVA #172: Nonviolent obstruction, and seeking imprisonment.
 NVA #27: New signs and names, NVA #68: Sanctuary, NVA #120: Withholding or withdrawal of allegiance, NVA #121 Refusal of public support, NVA #126 Boycott of government depts., agencies, and other bodies, NVA #129 Refusal of assistance to enforcement agents, NVA #173: Nonviolent occupation, NVA #174 Establishing new social patterns, NVA #179: Alterative social institutions, NVA #183 nonviolent land seizure.
#CitizensNoncooperationwithGovernment #NVA126 #NVA126BoycottofGovernmentDeptsAgenciesandOtherBodies #NVA129 #NVA129RefusalofAssistancettoEnforcementAgents