On May 25, 2020 a black man named George Floyd was killed by a white cop on the streets of Minneapolis.
He was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a deli and was murdered for it.
The officers proceeded to handcuff him and lay him on the ground. One of the officers put his knee into George's neck for almost 9 minutes, until he died. Bystanders took videos of this and begged the officer to get off of his neck. George screamed out "I can't breathe!" and yelled for his Mama, who had passed two years prior. By the time the ambulance arrived, he was unresponsive and later died.
I watched this video and wept as this grown man was screaming out for his mother as the officer relentlessly pushed his knee further into his neck.
I struggled with what I had just watched. I cried that night and didn't know what to do.
George wasn't the first black man killed by police but I hope he is the last.
He is just another hashtag added to the list of police brutality on the black community.
This has to STOP.
I learned from my dear friend Keisha that asking questions and getting that dialogue started is important. Asking questions to the black community and actually hearing thier words is so very important. Together, we started working on a project of what it's like being black in America.
Then George was murdered.
Cities all over the United States (and now the world) have banded together to form protests in his name. They scream George's name until their voices give out. When one person can't yell for him anymore, the next person picks up where they left off. Its beyond powerful.
I joined two Black Live Matters protests in my area this weekend. One was in Norfolk on May 29 and the other was in VA Beach on May 31.
As a white female, it was important for me to show that I am an ally and I hear you. I wanted to show my black friends and the black community that I stand with you and I'm against police brutality with more than words but with actions, too.
I see you.
On Friday, May 29, my friend Keisha and I joined hundreds of others for a peaceful protest in Norfolk, VA. The local chapter of the Black Lives Matter organized this and we all met at 7:57pm to show our solidarity in standing up for George Floyd and all of the other people before him.
A large crowd gathered at the Scope and as we all marched down the streets, they yelled his name and held their signs up high.
The energy is indescribable. People were angry and hurt but they protested in peace.
People shared their stories of how their sons were locked up for years for a crime that didn't fit the punishment.
At one point we ended up walking next a police officer who used to work for the city of Portsmouth. He turned in his badge when he was asked to beat an unarmed black man in jail. He refused. As he shared his story, this grown man started weeping for the future of his biracial son.
The group continued marching down to City Hall, where they all gathered and chanted for those who can't anymore.
I was so moved by the echo of voices screaming for change.
Hashtags don't cut it. This has to stop NOW.
The protest started near Martin Luther King Jr. obelisk monument, which was so meaningful.
The protestors joined up the next day in Norfolk for Unity/Community Day and marched peacefully for what they believe so strongly in.
On Sunday, March 31st, I joined the Black Lives Matter protest in Virginia Beach. We walked down the boardwalk with signs and words that meant so much.
This group was much larger than the one in Norfolk but it remained peaceful.
People screamed George's name, "Hands up, Don't shoot!", "I can't breathe! Get off my neck!" and "No Justice, No Peace!"
People yelled until they couldn't anymore. People are hurt and they are tired.
It's time we listen and make that change happen.
As they marched down the street, cars would honk in support of the cause. Some people even stepped off the sidewalk and joined in. Loud cheers were heard as we passed by businesses filled with people who knew why they were there.
A community came together for a cause that is SO important.
George's life mattered.
Everyone else before him MATTERED.
Something that has become very clear over this past weekend of the protests is how they were covered. Unfortunately, the looting and the rioting took precedence over the protest.
It's important not to lose the meaning of why these people gathered.
Police brutality has been happening for years. One of the major differences now is that people now see it on their own screens from first hand recordings. You can't forget their faces or their words.
When Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while out for a jog, it took TWO MONTHS for his killers to even go to jail.
Social media's outrage over his death is the only reason his killers are behind bars today.
This is unnacceptable.
When Breona Taylor was shot and killed in her own home, even though she wasn't even who the police were looking for, they arrested her boyfriend for trying to defend himself.
Social media's outrage over his arrest is what lead to his release.
There have been too many times where black people have been murdered and nothing has happened or the killer walks free.
One of the most poignant moments for me personally was when I read a comment from a friend on facebook. When Trayvon Martin's killer was set free, a mother of young black children shared how they didn't care about her babies and how she fears if they will even live to grow up to create their own family. Will they be able to walk home from the store and get some skittles without being killed?
The stories of these black people being killed is overwhelming for me.
Can you imagine what it feels like for a person of color?
Yes, some of the protests ended with rioting and looting. Everyone has seen the reports. It's important to look at who it is that starts breaking the glass. My experiences, being on the street and walking in solidarity with the black community, is that the riots and looting aren't what these protests are about. It's important to see WHY so we can fix it today.
These attacks on blacks are targeted and they are racist.
I see my friends asking what we can do to help.
We can face our fears, get uncomfortable, ask those tough questions and show our support for the black community.
Call others out on their racism when you see it. Stand up to them.
Listen to our black community. Hear their voices.
They are hurting.
Together, in unity, we can heal this community.
We can stand with our black brother's and sister's and show that we support them.
They matter and always have.
Now it's time to show it.
Support black businesses and consider donating to the Minnesota Freedom Fund or donate directly to Black Lives Matter.