The world watched George Floyd lie face down with hands cuffed behind his back as then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin dug his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes. Chauvin has been fired, and on Wednesday, the charges against him were raised to second-degree murder.
The horrific video hit social media on May 25 and went viral, like so many violent and deadly encounters between police and black men and women before it. There’s no doubt that Floyd’s death amplified the social unrest and every day racism that people of color have lived with all of their lives. In Minneapolis, demonstrators quickly organized and began protesting the day after Floyd was killed. Since, protestors in all 50 states and 13 countries have held demonstrations chanting his name and demanding police reform in America.
Enough is enough.
All of this is set during a global pandemic, where our country is more lost than ever and COVID-19 deaths continue to rise past 110,000.
Cities across the country have adopted curfews to control these mostly peaceful demonstrations that demand justice not only for Floyd, but for the countless killings of black people at the hands of police. Sacramento’s curfew, enforced by police and later the National Guard, began on June 1 at 8 p.m. and is in effect until further notice.
Across the country, those who exercise their First Amendment rights after curfew are tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, trapped on bridges, corralled into neighborhoods and hospitalized. In Washington, D.C., under the direction of President Donald Trump, peaceful demonstrators and even priests were pelted with pepper balls and flash bangs to make way for the president’s photo op with a bible in front St. John’s Episcopal Church. Later that night, about 70 demonstrators took shelter in a private residence as law enforcement shot tear gas into the home in an attempt to arrest those indoors.
Enough is enough.
I watched Monday night’s peaceful demonstration in Sacramento through Black Zebra Production’s on-the-ground live feed. The march was led by Stevante Clark, brother of Stephon Clark, who was shot and killed in his grandmother’s backyard by Sacramento police in 2018. I witnessed hundreds of participants organize, link together and march through downtown. When they were done, those who are part of the movement went home. It was an incredibly moving display of unity and proved that peaceful, organized protests are effective.
A small group of people chose to stay well after organizers left. About 50 people were arrested and eventually let go.
As a light-skinned Mexican American, I recognize I have privilege. So what can I do to help my community and those hurt most by systemic racism? Not all of us can be on the front lines of protests for myriad reasons. But what we can do is hold ourselves accountable.
We can donate to GoFundMe campaigns for demonstrators who need help paying hospital bills after being struck by rubber bullets or beaten with batons. We can write to our local representatives such as Congresswoman Doris Matsui. We can provide supplies to protestors, including first aid, water, food, masks and hand sanitizer. We can donate to just causes such as NorCal Resist and the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which both help demonstrators with bail and legal services.
But most importantly, we can speak up. We can use our platforms to say “Enough is enough” and “Black lives matter.”
We can also support small businesses during this time, especially those owned by people of color. Businesses were hurting even before these demonstrations began because of the pandemic. Now, many are boarded up with messages of support painted on the plywood meant to protect them from theft. To be clear: Looters are separate from peaceful protestors demanding justice.
As a mother, seeing footage from last weekend’s demonstration in Sacramento of what happened to 18-year-old Dayshawn McHolder was bone chilling. McHolder, who just graduated from high school, was peacefully protesting when he was shot in the face with a rubber bullet. He was carried away bleeding by a fellow demonstrator, Jack Reichel. He will need jaw surgery, according to a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $20,000.
Afterward, I put my phone down and reflected on what I just saw, as my 5-year-old played innocently in our backyard. I felt sick for McHolder and angry about the trauma he suffered and will continue to live with. It’s difficult to smile at your happy child who doesn’t know the world is in such peril. Young people are putting their lives on the line to march against racism and oppression so their children can live in a better, safer world with equal opportunity. As parents, we need to have difficult conversations with our children about the ugliness of the world, especially as our country creeps closer and closer to martial law.
Protests are a sign that injustice has occurred and the system needs to change. What message does it send to those historically oppressed when the president uses military force against Americans demanding equality and asking to stop being killed by police?
George Floyd. Stephon Clark. Sandra Bland. Tony McDade. Breonna Taylor. Michael Brown. Tamir Rice. Eric Garner. Philando Castile. Oscar Grant. Joseph Mann.
Demonstrators in the streets will continue to speak for these people who died unjustly, some before they even entered high school. We must stand up to racism and stand with peaceful protesters.
Enough is enough.
Want to share your experience marching in protest of racial injustice during the George Floyd demonstrations? Email: Stephr@newsreview.com.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento: The local chapter organizes demonstrations that demand justice for marginalized communities and those killed by police violence.
National Lawyers Guild, Sacramento Chapter: (916) 500-4654. Call and include the full name and birth date of the arrested person.
Minnesota Freedom Fund: Supports demonstrators with supplies and legal representation and pays for criminal bail and immigration bond.
NorCal Resist: Sacramento-based organization that helps with immigration services and accepts donations to aid demonstrations.
Congresswoman Doris Matsui: Write to Matsui, who represents California’s 6th District, which includes the city of Sacramento.