[imagesource: Justin Tang/The Canadian Press via AP]
Trayvon Martin, killed by self-appointed neighbourhood watchmen; Rakia Boyd, an innocent bystander shot in the back of the head by an off-duty police officer; Miriam Carey, shot five times from behind; Yvette Smith, shot in her home seconds after answering the door; Eric Garner, died after a police officer placed him in a chokehold; 12-year-old Tamir Rice, shot by a Cleaveland police officer…
The list goes on and on.
Most recently, George Floyd died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for nine minutes, during which Floyd repeatedly complained that he could not breathe.
His death has ignited mass protests and riots across America and the world. Donald Trump responded to the cry for justice by calling for a violent military crackdown on protesters, tweeting “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”.
Other world leaders have responded to the situation, for the most part, with shows of support for the movement to end police brutality and racially motivated violence.
When Canadian PM Justin Trudeau was asked to comment on Trump’s threat to use the military to quell protests, his lengthy pause was very telling.
Choosing his words very wisely, although I’m not sure the same can be said about his facial hair.
In South Africa, the ANC has called for calm following the revival of the Black Lives Matter movement, founded in 2013 to campaign against systemic racism and violence inflicted on black communities.
ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe called on Americans and their government to “seek an amicable solution to the current racial impasse”.
He urged the South African government, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, to engage with the US via “established diplomatic channels to diffuse racial tensions and build social cohesion among different races”.
Many have pointed out the irony of this statement following police brutality during the national lockdown and a history of violence levied against protesters in South Africa.
The #AmINext protests outside the Cape Town International Convention Centre, following the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana, come to mind.
To return to America, and as Jennifer Cobbina writes in Hands Up, Don’t Shoot:
The issue of racially motivated police killings is not simply a product of individual discriminatory police officers . It is the result of deep historical forces that follow a pattern of social control over Black people that is entwined in the very fabric of the United States.
Meanwhile, Trump is trying to play the religious card to appeal to his supporters and counteract criticism for his handling of the protests.
His appearance in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House set off a controversy because it involved aggressively clearing peaceful protesters. His actions have been met with anger from religious leaders over his use of the church for political ends.
He then visited the Saint John Paul II National Shrine to pose for photographs while protests raged nearby.
At one point, he notices that the First Lady isn’t smiling and appears to tell her to do so.
We can’t see through the shades, but I would guess there is some eye-rolling:
Make sure you watch the close up from the 30-second mark. What a happy couple.
In a country more concerned with arming its citizens, than protecting them, this nationwide protest has been a long time coming.
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