I think that it is pretty hard to grasp the fact that as middle schoolers we are living in not one, but two huge historical events. COVID-19 has without a doubt changed our daily lives. However, we are also living in a time where violence against African Americans by the hands of police is becoming all too common. The Black Lives Matter movement has without a doubt highlighted these and other ongoing injustices that still occur in our society.
The recent killing of 46-year-old George Floyd during an arrest on May 25, 2020, has sparked protests all around the country. A Minneapolis police officer had his leg on Floyd’s neck and back, restricting his breathing. Floyd kept telling the police officer that he couldn’t breathe, but he did not move his leg, and none of the other officers intervened. George Floyd ended up dying from this physical abuse. Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner and so many more have been killed from police brutality.
Most Black Lives Matter protests are peaceful protests of people marching and asking for change. People’s reactions to the protests were sometimes not peaceful. In a protest in Washington D.C., things got messy, many protesters defaced monuments after quarrels with the law enforcement. In more than one protest, tear gas has been used against protesters, peaceful and violent alike. In a Louisville protest on May 28th, a police officer was backed into a wall and was preparing to be injured, as the protesters were getting angry when one man in a red mask stepped up and put himself in front of the police officer. Many more people came up and locked arms, forming a human shield to prevent the officer from being injured.
In our very own Downtown Plymouth, one PCEP graduate, Morgan Stephans, decided that Plymouth needed to do something about police brutality. Stephans approached the police department about a protest. Stephans only expected 50 people to join. On Wednesday, June 3rd, 500 people came to Kellogg Park in Plymouth to walk for change. Many protesters were holding signs that read, “Black lives matter”, “ no justice no peace”, “am I next?”, and “I can’t breathe”. Protesters began to walk around D.T.P. chanting and cheering.
To understand these issues more, I have been reading. I recently read The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is about police brutality. The book is narrated by Starr, a 16-year-old African American female, who witnessed a police officer shoot her friend. The book is about her experience dealing with this traumatic event and what happened to her that night. This novel is a great resource for the topic. Although the book covers heavy topics, it is uplifting and inspiring.
The Hate U GIve by Angie Thomas https://www.toledolibrary.org/blog/black-lives-matter-a-teen-booklist
Clevenger, Michael. “’They Saved Me’: How Protesters Protected a Lone Cop, a Moment Captured in Powerful Photos.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 June 2020, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/06/06/breonna-taylor-protesters-protected-lone-lmpd-officer/3166914001/.
Gay, Colin. “Meet Some of the Hundreds That Participated in Plymouth Black Lives Matter Protest.” Observer and Eccentric Newspapers and Hometown Weeklies, Hometownlife.com, 3 June 2020, www.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/2020/06/03/hundreds-participate-plymouth-black-lives-matter-protest/3139411001/.
LeBlanc, Paul. “Famed DC Monuments Defaced after Night of Unrest.” CNN, Cable News Network, 31 May 2020, www.cnn.com/2020/05/31/politics/dc-monuments-lincoln-memorial-defaced/index.html.