A few days ago I posted on our local email group that if anyone was interested in doing some Black Lives Matter protests to email me privately. This is not the first time that I’ve posted regarding BLM protests; usually I receive a few angry emails privately. This time the emails were posted publicly for all to see. The comments accused me of promoting racism and I was told to go back to my own country. I am shocked not only that the hate exists but that it is expressed so freely now. President Trump did not invent racism, but he has certainly promoted it. With his example he has empowered his supporters to be open about their racism. If the president doesn’t hide it, why should they? His actions against Black Lives Matter protestors has divided this country in a way that I never expected to see in my lifetime. Peaceful protesting is what this country is founded on; freedom of expression and assembly is our most fundamental right. The overwhelming majority of protestors are peaceful but the destruction of property by a few is being blamed on everyone.

Black Lives Matter was formed in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager in Florida. The movement began with a mission “to build local power to intervene when violence is inflicted on black communities by the state and vigilantes.” In the years since, its goal has become to create a world free of anti-blackness, where every person has the social, economic and political power to thrive.

There are a lot of misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter movement that I would like to address here: All lives matter. Of course they do but it is black lives that are disproportionately targeted with police harassment and brutality. The movement asks that black people be treated equally to white people. Black Lives Matter does not mean that other lives matter any less. Blue Lives Matter is another response. The majority of BLM supporters are not against good officers – it’s the bad officers that need to be held accountable. The movement to bring awareness to breast cancer did not meet with the rebuttal “all cancers matter.”

I have heard objections that George Floyd is being treated as a martyr. George Floyd was a criminal but that does not mean that he deserved to be murdered by police. The video of the killing has woken up a lot more people to the reality of police brutality and the shocking nonchalance displayed by Officer Chauvin. No one chose Floyd as a martyr, but his death, caught on video, was so disturbing that millions of people have taken to the streets to demand change. George Floyd’s death is a symbol of the systemic discrimination of black people in the justice system.  

There have been accusations that BLM is a Marxist organization. That is, of course, ridiculous. BLM is a social movement which seeks equality of opportunity. Marxism is an economic philosophy that has nothing to do with BLM at all. Many Americans support the movement, few if any of them identify as Marxist. BLM has no central organization, there are no officers, no one pays dues. It is simply a movement of people who care about black lives and the message of anti-racism. A movement supported by a super-majority of Americans.

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