African Americans have suffered at the hands of law enforcement for far too long. Black Lives Matter is a movement created to bring awareness to police brutality and diminish it. In Dani McClain’s article, Black Lives Matter: What Comes After the Hashtag?, she proceeds to discuss how social media sparked the BLM movement and all of the campaigns that were created to help those oppressed by the law. Similar to this, in Josh Bowers’ article, Annoy No Cop, he explains how the enemy in this play are the officers themselves. Although Bowers’ does make a reasonable argument, he seems a bit too close minded, whereas McClain stands with the BLM movement and discusses the positive impact it has on those that have suffered loss.
In Bowers’ article, he argues that officers are exercising their power over the people. He touches on the Black Lives Matter Movement, but he does not go into detail about what it has done to benefit African Americans; he mostly discusses the downsides of the law between a civilian and a law enforcement official. He explains this by saying :if the officer’s legal and factual mistakes are deemed reasonable, then his conduct -the arrest- is constitutional. In turn, I am subjected to a different constraint. and in public, possess no open containers of something that an officer reasonably could believe to be alcohol (even if it not) in a manner he reasonably could believe violates the law (even if it does not). The end result is that the officer has the opportunity to arrest me with neither sufficient proof of a criminal act not even an applicable criminal statue. My autonomy is constrained by the reasonable officer’s belief, evaluated from his perspective (Bowers 134). The purpose of BLM was to empower those traumatized by the recent events, but Bowers does not go into detail on that.
In McClain’s article, she provides a deeper insight on the BLM movement; she touches on the topic of activists who suffer from depression and she supplies information on the events leading up to the movement, as well as details of activists and their accomplishments. Unlike many authors, McClain gives insight on the lives of those who support BLM. She begins by introducing Sandra Bland’s distress signals before committing suicide. Another tragic incident, MarShawn McCarrel, posted on his Facebook page before fatally shooting himself on the steps of his state’s capitol. Since their deaths, word has spread about Black Lives Matter activists having depression. (McClain 18).
McClain then explores the accomplishments that the activists have achieved. After the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, hundred of students in Miami-Dade and Broward counties protested on the fact that the Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, hadn’t been arrested on any charges. Umi Selah and others in a college activist group organized a forty mile (forty miles for forty days that Zimmerman remained free) march from Daytona Beach to the Sanford Police Department. About a year later, Zimmerman was claimed not guilty on charges of second-degree murder/manslaughter. Angered by this, the Dream Defenders arrived in Tallahassee and occupied the Florida statehouse for 4 weeks as an attempt to push Republican Governor Rick Scott to call a special legislative session to review the state’s stand your ground law, racial profiling, and school push-out policies, all of which the organization linked to Martin’s death. (19).
Following those events was the death of Michael Brown. McClain continues to address the massive twitter feud regarding the incident on November 24, 2014, when the St. Louis County prosecutor announced that a grand jury had determined not to press charges against the officer responsible for Michael Brown’s demise, Darren Wilson. Weeks later, when the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death in New York City was also not indicted, 4.4 million tweets over a period of seven days kept the nation’s attention focused on the fight for police accountability. Hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #Ferguson, #HandsUpDontShoot and #IfTheyGunnedMeDown gave users including those not yet involved in activism a way to contribute to conversations they cared about. (20).
The purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement is so much more than officer vs citizen. It is about human rights. As McClain stated, Today’s racial-justice movement demands an end to the disproportionate killing of black people by law-enforcement officials and vigilantes. (20)
African Americans have undergone torment and suffering since the days of Jim Crow, and continue to do so today. Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome.
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