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Good News: Protesting Is Working

By Manna Zel

On Monday, May 25, a young bystander recorded the video that would be seen around the world: a breathless George Floyd crying out for his late mother, his neck trapped between ex-police officer Derek Chauvin’s knee and the asphalt for over eight minutes. 

In the past few months alone, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, David McAtee, and Floyd have all been murdered by police, rounding out a decade of publicly-consumed Black death. The kids who grew up believing—with bated, hopeful breath—that the justice system would not fail Trayvon Martin are the same ones leading the revolution. 

Protests have erupted in all 50 U.S. states and at least 20 countries across the world, from Japan to Brazil to Senegal to Hungary. And what we’re doing—from protests to petitions to phone calls—is working. Though the road continues ahead of us, we’re seeing results from the pressure of our actions unfold by the day. 

Inspired by @anti_cgi’s post, we’re using this space to chronicle the positive outcomes of protests worldwide. 

Tuesday, May 26: 4 Minneapolis Officers Fired After George Floyd Dies In Custody (NYT)

While Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck, ex-officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng assisted him in holding Floyd down. Ex-officer Tou Thao looked on. The next day, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey announced that all four responding officers were fired.

Wednesday, May 27: University of Minnesota Will Scale Back Ties With Minneapolis Police After George Floyd’s Death (CNN)

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel sent a message to students and faculty announcing limited ties with the Minneapolis Police Department. The connection between the police and the university, which has a main campus in Minneapolis, will only include joint patrols and investigations that will keep their community safe.

Thursday, May 28: Bus Drivers in Minneapolis and New York City Have Refused to Help With Police Transportation (TIME)

When police began arresting more and more protesters, they took over public transportation to deliver police to protests and to send protestors to jail. Many bus drivers, who are protected by a transportation union that allows them to decide whether or not they want to help the cops, are refusing to comply.

Thursday, May 28-Wednesday, June 3: In Rare Move, U.S. Embassies In Africa Condemn George Floyd Murder (TIME)

Black Lives Matter everywhere—not just on American soil. Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, released a statement condemning racism against Black Americans, urging the U.S. to eliminate race and ethnicity-based discrimination, and directly referring to Floyd’s death as a murder. United States embassies in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and the DRC have also tweeted statements referencing the Department of Justice’s ongoing criminal investigation.

Friday, May 29: Minneapolis Activists Have Turned a Former Sheraton Into a Shelter For Unsheltered People Displaced By the Protests and Curfew (Insider)

After their site was cleared due to its proximity to the Minneapolis protests, many unsheltered people took up residence in a community-run shelter based out of a former Sheraton Hotel. Less than a mile from where Floyd was murdered, the shelter houses over 200 people who volunteer to split the tasks of cooking, cleaning, and defending their home. 

Friday, May 29: Derek Chauvin Was Charged With Third-Degree Murder (NYT)

Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, a charge that could result in a max sentence of 35 years. That day, Floyd’s family released a statement: “We call on authorities to revise the charges to reflect the true culpability of this officer. The pain that the Black community feels over this murder and what it reflects about the treatment of Black people in America is raw and is spilling out onto streets across America.”

Friday, May 29: Mayor Fischer Suspends No-Knock Warrants, Telling Breonna Taylor Protestors ‘I hear you’ (Courier Journal)

Breonna Taylor was in her bed when the police silently broke into her apartment under a no-knock warrant and murdered her in March. After hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Louisville on Thursday, May 28, Mayor Greg Fischer decided to temporarily suspend no-knock warrants and alluded to more changes to come, including a civilian review board with the power to subpoena the Louisville Metro Police.

Saturday, May 30: Minnesota Attorney General to Take Over Prosecutions in George Floyd’s Death (NBC News)

Before he was appointed lead prosecutor in investigations surrounding the murder of George Floyd, Minnesota State Attorney General Keith Ellison had been asked to “assist” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman with the case. When their constituents expressed a lack of faith in Freeman’s ability to get justice for George Floyd, 10 Minneapolis representatives in the Minnesota House of Representatives wrote Governor Tim Walz with one request: Replace Freeman with Ellison.

In Attorney General Ellison’s words: “We are pursuing justice. We are pursuing truth. We’re doing it vigorously, and we are pursuing accountability.”

Monday, June 1: Protestors Tried To Remove A Confederate Monument In Birmingham. The Mayor Told Them He Would Finish The Job (CNN)

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin arrived at Linn Park park not too long after protesters began trying to topple the Confederate Soldiers & Sailors Monument. After engaging with protesters, Mayor Woodfin promised to move the 115-year-old obelisk, which stands at a lofty 52 feet, from the park.

Monday, June 1: DA’s Call On California State Bar To Ban Police Union Campaign Donations To Prosecutors (CBS SF)

When police unions financially support prosecutors’ campaigns, it reduces the ethicality of investigations into police misconduct and police brutality. Current and former district attorneys in the Bay Area are pushing for the California State Bar—and, in a perfect world, the American Bar Association—to block campaign donations from law enforcement unions to prosecutors. 

Monday, June 1: Tulsa Mayor Bynum Agrees To Not Renew Live PD Contract, Meets With Protest Organizers (KJRH

In 2016, a show detailing the on-duty experiences of police officers premiered on A&E. Live PD featured six U.S. police departments, one of which is in Tulsa. After Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Police Chief Wendell Franklin met with protest organizers, Mayor Bynum vowed that the city will not be renewing their contract with Live PD.

Monday, June 1: Louisville Police Chief Fired After Officer Bodycams Found To Be Off During Fatal Shooting (NBC News)

It was just after midnight on Monday when police and National Guard began firing their weapons at David McAtee, the owner of a barbecue joint in Louisville’s West End. That afternoon, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced in a news conference that Louisville Police Chief Steve Conrad had been fired and the two officers had been placed on administrative leave for failing to turn on their bodycams. 

Monday, June 1: Lawmakers Begin Bipartisan Push To Cut Off Police Access To Military-Style Gear (NYT)

Peaceful protests started to look more like war zones when police officers uniformed in protective riot gear began beating, tear gassing, pepper spraying, and shooting protesters armed with only cardboard signs. Since the 90s, the Department of Defense has contributed to militarizing the police force by sending more than $7.4 billion worth of property—anywhere from clothing and radios to rifles and armored vehicles—to over 8,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies. In 2017, Trump reversed an Obama-era policy that came about post-Ferguson, which restricted the transportation of equipment like tracked armored vehicles, bayonets, and grenade launchers, but members of Congress are now working across the aisle to push to end this program.

Tuesday 6/2 - Minneapolis Public School Board Votes to Terminate its Contract With Police (The Guardian)

Minneapolis students and teachers know they’d be better off without utilizing Minneapolis police officers as school security officers, and their school board agrees. In a unanimous vote, the school board elected to end their contract with the Minneapolis police department, stating they can’t work with an entity that doesn’t see the humanity in their students.

Tuesday, June 2: 6 Atlanta Police Officers Charged After Video Shows Them Forcibly Removing Protesting College Students From Car (TIME)

When Messiah Young and Taniyah Pilgrim, rising seniors at Morehouse College and Spelman College respectively, were on their way back from a protest, six police officers ripped them from their car, tased them, and brutalized them. Six officers were charged with the below, including two officers who were fired Sunday, May 31.

  • Ivory Streeter: Aggravated assault against Young, pointing a gun at Young
  • Mark Gardner: Aggravated assault against Pilgrim
  • Lonnie Hood: Aggravated assault against Young and Pilgrim, simple battery
  • Willie Sauls: Aggravated assault, criminal damage
  • Armon Jones: Aggravated battery, pointing a gun at Young
  • Roland Claud: Criminal damage

Tuesday, June 2: AFL-CIO Joins Call For Minneapolis Police Union’s Bob Kroll To Resign (KARE11)

After condemning Minneapolis Police Union President Bob Kroll’s history of bigotry and violence, the largest labor federation in Minnesota called for Kroll’s resignation. Kroll, who advocated for militaristic police tactics, sought to have the officers who killed George Floyd reinstated.

Tuesday, June 2: Minn. Department Of Human Rights To Launch Civil Rights Investigation Into MPD Following George Floyd’s Death (CBS Minnesota)

The first-ever state investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department is underway, taking a deep look at their operations for the last 10 years. It’s not only an investigation; the Minnesota Department of Human Rights served the city with a charge of racial discrimination.

Tuesday, June 2: District Attorney Boudin and Supervisor Shamann Walton Announce a Resolution to Prohibit the Hiring of Law Enforcement Officers with Prior Findings of Misconduct (SF District Attorney)

A resolution proposed by San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin and Supervisor Shamann Walton is pushing for the San Francisco Civil Service Commission to make it so that officers with histories of police misconduct cannot be hired to the San Francisco Police Department or San Francisco Sheriff’s Department.

Tuesday, June 2: New Jersey to Overhaul Police Use-of-Force Guidelines for 1st Time in 20 Years, AG Says (NBC New York)

After the excessive force involved in George Floyd’s murder, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced new guidelines barring police officers from using excessive force, requiring a statewide licensing program for officers, and conduct training programs for safer encounters between the police and the communities they serve.

Wednesday, June 3: Minneapolis Schools and Parks Cut Ties With Police Over George Floyd’s Death (CNN)

A day after the Minneapolis School Board voted to end their contract with the police department, all nine members of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board agreed to cut ties with the police too, immediately ceasing use of police at park events.

Wednesday, June 3: Chauvin and 3 Former Officers Face New Charges Over George Floyd’s Death (NPR)

All four officers involved in George Floyd’s murder have been charged. Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, faces a new charge of second-degree murder on top of his previous charges. The other officers, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas K. Lane, face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

Wednesday, June 3: Virginia Governor Plans to Order Robert E. Lee Statue Removed (NYT)

Monuments to the Confederacy litter the South but Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is taking a stance against it, beginning with the Robert E. Lee statue in Richmond. The same day, the mayor of Richmond, Levar Stoney, announced proposals to remove other Confederate statues.

Wednesday, June 3: Mayor Stoney Commits To Enacting Crisis Alert, Independent Citizen Review Board (Richmond News)

Public school teacher Marcus David Peters was in the midst of a mental health crisis when he was shot and killed by police in 2018. Recently, Richmond Mayor Stoney has announced the “Marcus Alert,” a crisis alert that will help police better handle situations involving mental health crises. Richmond is also looking into how they can establish a Citizen Review Board to hold the police department accountable.

Wednesday, June 3: Amidst Protests Against Police Violence LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Announces Cuts To LAPD (NPR)

After over a week of protests, petitions, and phone calls, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti finally announced the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget will not increase as originally planned. The original budget allocated an increase of $122 million, landing their total budget at $1.86 billion for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Rather than giving the LAPD a 7% spending increase and $41 million in bonuses, Garcetti intends to reroute those funds into communities.

Thursday, June 4: Portland Superintendent Says He’s ‘Discontinuing’ Presence of Armed Police Officers in Schools (Oregon Live)

Portland Public Schools are no longer going to have school resource officers on-site, according to their superintendent, Guadalupe Guerrero. Rather than utilizing police officers, the school district will increase their budget for student support, from social workers to counselors.

Friday, June 5: Labor Council to Seattle Police Guild: Confront Racism In The Ranks Or Get Out (KOMO News)

A resolution by the Martin Luther King County Labor Council sponsored by members of the United Food & Commercial Workers and Service Employees International Union is pushing the Seattle Police Officers Guild to be actively anti-racist. In the words of the resolution, “Systematic racism exists in the Seattle Police Department. This problem must be immediately addressed to protect BIPOC individuals in our community from harm. In contrast to SPOG’s statement, recent events are not the result of a few ‘bad actors,’ Our police are over-armed with weapons but provided no real tools to dismantle the racism in their own Department or provide the services our community needs.”

Friday, June 5: U.S. Marine Corps Issues Ban on Confederate Battle Flags (NYT)

Mugs, posters, bumper stickers, and other forms of the Confederate battle flag are now banned from being publicly displayed at U.S. Marine Corps installations, following the symbol’s long, sordid, racist history.

For a list of anti-racist resources, click here.