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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

'A voice for the voiceless'
Kiley O’Brien ’25, Assistant Features Editor • July 18, 2024
Fit to be king
Lilli Dellheim '25 M.A., Special to the Hawk • July 13, 2024

Reflecting on the impact of BLM

Reflecting+on+the+impact+of+BLM

Keep the momentum going

With the killing of Breonna Taylor passing its one-year anniversary, and the killing of George Floyd following not too far behind, the topic of police reform and racial justice has reentered the public arena.

This is true especially as the country watches the recent proceedings in Minneapolis as the jury for the trial of Derek Chauvin, the officer who has been charged with the killing of Floyd, is being selected, and Floyd’s family has reached a $27 million settlement with the city. 

The settlement of the Floyd family’s civil suit against the city of Minneapolis demonstrates something that many people realized at the beginning of the racial justice movement: we are witnessing a profound change in the way that this country both discusses race and handles issues pertinent to it. This reality is best summed up by the statement given by the family’s attorney, Ben Crump, J.D., in which he says that the settlement “sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of color must end.” 

When the protests first began, it struck me as incredible that so many people could turn out to fight for a cause that they believed in. Many of them were facing the risk of protesting during a pandemic, and others had to deal with incidents of police brutality during the protests. I think it is truly telling that despite these risks, the movement that we saw unfold over the course of 2020 turned out to be one of the largest protest movements in American history. The number of people that came out to protest peaked at 26 million in early June.

It has woken up those who were once apathetic to issues facing people of color in this country and it has brought about real change in both our politics and our laws.

What is even more telling is that the support for the racial justice movement, particularly for Black Lives Matter, continues to be high, with 55% of U.S. adults supportive of the movement. Unfortunately, the number has gone down since the beginning of the movement, but the data still indicates that a majority of Americans side with the calls for racial justice.

We live in a time in which our focus is constantly being shifted from one big event to the other. The unique and inspiring nature of the racial justice movement that sprung up last year is that it was able to surmount that and bring large swaths of the country to the prolonged attention of this pressing issue. 

Unlike many of the other racial justice protests that sprung up over the last decade, real policy changes were made in some cities to correct police use of force. 

The mayor of Atlanta, for example, released a series of reforms to police conduct last year to “build trust between law enforcement and our communities.” It is also important to mention that many of the mayoral races throughout the country, from Minneapolis to Boston, have been impacted tremendously by the racial justice movement. Whether a candidate supports police reform or not is the determining factor of their electability in many of these races.

All of this is to say that the momentum of the racial justice movement has not died down and most likely will not any time soon. It has woken up those who were once apathetic to issues facing people of color in this country and it has brought about real change in both our politics and our laws. Whatever the outcome of the Chauvin trial may be, I feel confident in saying that the momentum of change will not slow for some time.

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