In 2013, three female Black organisers — Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi — created a black centered political will and movement building project called Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter began with a social media hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin back
For eight minutes and 46 seconds, police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, a 46-year old Black man, on a street in Minneapolis on May 25 2020. Another officer had his knees on Floyd's upper legs while their colleague gripped Floyd's handcuffed arms.
"Please, please, please, I can't breathe," Floyd gasped, pleading about 20 times. When Floyd fell unconscious, the officers didn't move. Chauvin and the other officers released their grip only when an ambulance arrived. Floyd was later pronounced dead at a local hospital.
While George Floyd wasn't the only black person to die at the hands of US police officers, the images of him being slowly suffocated were quickly seen around the world. His death sparked renewed protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Thousands of people took to the streets in Minneapolis, in cities across the US and around the world, in response to Floyd's death.
At first, tens of thousands of protesters in the US marched peacefully, but a couple of days after George Floyd's death, some demonstrations turned violent. There were reports of looting, vandalism and even shootings. Cars were set alight and there were clashes with police.
However, an estimated 15 million to 26 million people participated in the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the United States alone, making it one of the largest movements in the country's history
Meanwhile, in other countries across the world, statues deemed to symbolise racial injustice were taken down and protesters demanded that anti-racism efforts be stepped up. In the UK, Bristol, demonstrators tore down a statue of Edward Colston, a slave trader in the 17th century. The statue having long been requested of its removal by the population of Bristol and was thrown into the water. Thrown back into the water where so many black people drowned trying to escape slavery as they entered the city.
On June 2nd the world saw thousands of black shares appear on instagram. This was known as Blackout Tuesday. It was a day to observe, mourn and bring about policy change in the wake of the death of George Floyd. where organisations, brands and individuals are posting solemn messages featuring stark black backgrounds, sometimes tagging the posts with #BlackLivesMatter. While the intent was good the posts ended up turning what was
a powerful message into what could be described as a trend something which would eventually lose its true value and meaning.
It also caused a huge backlog on instagram. Essentially obscuring a channel that’s being used to share vital information about protests, organisation donations, and document police violence.
The death and the ensuing protests happened against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic that arrived a couple months prior. But despite the protests and uprisings, not much change has come about within law enforcement. It is why Black Lives Matter has never been so important, and the march for civil rights should not be a ‘trend’ but part of our everyday lives.