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Black Lives Matter

All lives can’t matter when BLACK LIVES aren’t included in the equation. It’s as simple as that.

The battle with police brutality against black civilians has recently been reinvigorated after the recording of George Floyd‘s murder at the hands of Minneapolis officers. To add insult to injury, this all comes at a time when the world has, for the majority, ceased operations while we deal with the consequences of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, requires empathy and authentic action! I support the thousands currently protesting and firmly believe everyone in this nation should be treated with the same common decency.

Cities across this country and beyond have shown up to show their objection to these heinous murders and the lack of accountability. Even more lives have been lost during these protests as the peace turns into havoc and violence. Arrests and injuries continue to pile up in Jacksonville as this mirrors what is going on in the rest of the country.

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Miscellaneous items are hurled towards the police as tensions start to rise with much provocation coming from both sides. Curfews have been installed to quiet down the protestors. As tear gas and rubber bullets are launched into the crowds of once peaceful protests, it further exemplifies the issues with police brutality as this is the exact reason for protesting in the first place. While the violence isn’t ideal, it’s important to realize that this is the byproduct of centuries of suppression in this country. When people feel unheard they react in ways that will get them the attention they desire. The most important thing to remember is to not lose the message behind the movement.

George Floyd’s death at the hands of four Minneapolis officers sparked the nation to revolt after he was asphyxiated by an officer on camera while pleading for his life. Breonna Taylor’s death at the hands of Louisville police shows an intrusion into the safety of an aspiring nurse. Ahmaud Arbery’s death was pushed under the rug for months after he was profiled and subsequently killed by two white men in a Georgia neighborhood while simply just getting some exercise. All three of these situations show why it’s difficult and damn near impossible for the black community to have faith in the police and the legal system. Without the outcry from social media and the protests, these cases and countless others wouldn’t have provided a glimmer of hope for any sort of justice for these fallen individuals.

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This all boils down to accountability. All cops aren’t evil. Many of them put their lives on the line every day serving and protecting. However, like in any group, there are bad apples. If the good ones don’t hold the bad ones accountable for their actions, they are complicit in the wrongdoings. 

The whole is only as strong as the weakest link and the weakest link in this case is guilty of perpetuating death and destruction to the black and minority communities. The handcuffs used today by police are no different than the chains used to enslave our ancestors and that’s only if a black person is, for lack of a better term, “lucky” enough to make it out alive in those cuffs.

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It’s time (it’s been time) for The United States of America to not just tolerate, but to fully accept the very people who literally put their blood, sweat and tears, not by choice, into building this country. This goes for every community, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexuality etc. who has come here seeking a better life for them and their family, as they too have put tireless centuries into contributing to this nation. 

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To those who may not understand the importance behind the phrase “Black Lives Matter”, please just listen before responding. Saying “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter” undercuts the purpose of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. Nobody is saying that those don’t matter, but to respond to Black Lives Matter with one of those deflects from the issue. Your first reaction shouldn’t be to combat that phrase, it should be to listen and think about what it means. 

Thank you to the allies putting their safety at risk to go protest these injustices, not only against retaliation, but also the risk of Coronavirus. To the white community serving as what’s deemed as “White Shields” to protect our black brothers and sisters, we appreciate you. Continue using this specific privilege to strengthen the cause. We need all the help we can get, and your ears and actions are necessary contributions to TRULY make this country great. It’s no longer time to straddle the fence. I challenge all of you to be on the right side of history.

Here is how you can help: Don’t lose sight of the message. This is not a race war.  This is an issue of police brutality and systematic racism against unarmed people of color, mainly the black community. 

Listen. 

Educate yourself.

Inform. 

Organize. 

Sacrifice. 

Support. 

Donate.

Empathize. 

Keep the pressure on your local officials and the government to keep them accountable. Say the victims’ names! And lastly, VOTE

Rest In Peace to:

Tanisha Anderson. Ahmaud Arbery. Sean Bell. Sandra Bland. Rekia Boyd. Philando Castile. John Crawford. Stephon Clark. Sharonda Coleman-Singleton. Terence Crutcher. Michael Cusseaux. Jordan Davis. Amadou Diallo. Jordan Edwards. Randolph Evans. Jonathan Ferrell. George Floyd. Eric Garner. Clifford Glover. Oscar Grant. Freddie Gray. Cynthia Hurd. Botham Jean. Susie Jackson. Atatiana Jefferson. Aiyana Jones. Corey Jones. Ethel Lance. Trayvon Martin. David McAtee. Renisha McBride. Depayne Middleton-Doctor. Clementa Pinckney. Claude Reese. Tamir Rice. Shukri Said. Tywanza Sanders. Keith Scott. Walter Scott. Daniel Simmons. Yvonne Smallwood. Yvette Smith. Alton Sterling. Daniel Simmons. Breonna Taylor. Myra Thompson. And too many more…


Photo credits:

Damon Burton • @psimtheshooter_

Kat Bynum @saltykatcreative

Don Hargrett • @donjpeg

James Van Watson@visual_van