The recent shooting of Jacob Blake, the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, the news surrounding the October 2019 killing of Brianna Hill, and the horrifying way a white woman used her privilege to threaten Christian Cooper’s life in Central Park have sparked international protests against racism and police brutality in America.
Protestors in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Columbus, Anchorage, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, New York City, and across the nation were confronted by police in riot gear, tear gas, and, in the case of Louisville, Kentucky, gunshots. (While it’s unclear who fired a gun, according to the New York Times, seven demonstrators in Kentucky were shot by the police on May 28.) This was in stark contrast to how the protestors who decried the stay-at-home orders were treated.
If you feel helpless, confused, angry, or fired up, there are actions you can take right now to demand justice. Here’s how you can help:
Contact Government Officials
WCCO reported that mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey “called on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to press charges against the arresting officer for George Floyd’s Monday night death.” Since this petition was created, the four fired officers who were involved in his arrest and murder (Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng) have been charged. Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other cops are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Kueng and Lane are currently out on bail. Call Mayor Frey at 612-673-2100 or email him at CitizenInfo@Hennepin.us to let him know you demand justice and that these officers continue to be held accountable.
And don’t forget to contact Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman at 612-348-5550 to demand all the officers involved in Floyd’s murder are held accountable by the law. The ACLU even pre-wrote scripts you can use so you don’t have to worry about what to say, and the NAACP made this easy form to contact your congressional officials to advocate for criminal justice reform.
"I was afraid that people would only see the video and remember his soul being taken away from him," social justice artist @shirien.creates told ELLE.com, after hearing the news of #AhmaudArbery's unjust death. She set out to make something soft, something with humanity that would celebrate his life. In the following weeks, she made similar portraits after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, all black Americans killed by police. “There's this demonization that exists," she says. "I wanted to challenge that." Link in bio for how the illustrator is using art as a form of healing, for herself and others. #BlackLivesMatter #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd #JusticeForBreonnaTaylor
A post shared by ELLE Magazine (@elleusa) on May 28, 2020 at 12:53pm PDT
Sign a Petition
This “super-petition” automatically contacts the appropriate government representatives and demands the police involved in her murder be arrested and charged. It also called on the Louisville Metro Council ban no-knock raids like the one used to break into her home. (The Washington Post reported that the no-knock warrant used to invade Taylor’s home was illegal.) On June 11, the Metro Council voted to unanimously ban no-knock warrants and require all cops to wear and turn on body cams five minutes prior to “beginning an operation.”
Two of the officers involved in Taylor’s murder (John Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove) remain free. Brett Hankison was merely charged with “wanton endangerment” for firing shots that ended up in a neighboring apartment. The charge actually has nothing to do with killing Taylor. Sign this petition to make sure she receives justice.
Text FLOYD to 55156 to sign Color of Change’s petition calling on Mayor Frey to block the Minneapolis officers from receiving their pensions and from becoming officers again.
Change.org’s petition also calls on the officers involved in Floyd’s death to be charged. Fifteen million have signed it, and it is still open even though the officers have been charged. Continue to make your voice heard.
Sign the Run With Ahmaud petition to ensure he gets the justice he deserves. On June 24—five months after Ahmaud was killed—Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan were charged with murder, but that’s just the first step.
This petition demands a thorough investigation into the officers who used a chokehold on Elijah McClain, who was just walking home from the convenience store and unarmed, and the paramedics who injected him with ketamine. It also calls on the officers to be taken off duty.
Black Lives Matter’s petition is a call to defund the police.
Sign this Change.org petition to demand justice for Tony McDade, a Black transgender man who was killed by Tallahassee police on May 27.
This petition calls on the Tallahassee police to release the footage of McDade’s death and to bring charges against the officers.
Donate, Donate, Donate
So many of the organizations that are dedicated to helping save and advocate for Black lives are in desperate need of additional funds, as are the families involved. And many protestors are being held on bail, so donating to a bail fund helps combat mass incarceration as well as racial and economic disparities. Consider donating to the following:
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd set up an official memorial fund on GoFundMe to help their family during this time. Donations cover “funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George.” Funds will also be committed to The Estate of George Floyd to help his children receive an education.
Breonna Taylor’s family set up a GoFundMe to help them with the financial burden of seeking justice for her.
This is the official GoFundMe for Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter. Money donated to this fundraiser will assist with obtaining mental health counseling for her, a good education, and safe travel to and from all court proceedings.
This GoFundMe will help cover funeral costs, mental health and grief counseling, and legal fees for McDade’s family.
Elijah McClain’s mom set up this GoFundMe to help her family with legal fees after his killing.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund and North Star Health Collective are two of the high-profile funds receiving a ton of donations, so they’ve since paused on accepting any more. That said, they recommended a bunch of organizations to donate to, and you can find all those on their home pages.
Reclaim the Block aims to reallocate money from the police department to other areas of the city that need more health and safety resources.
The Milwaukee Freedom Fund has pledged to support protestors in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as they carry out demonstrations following the shooting of Jacob Blake. On August 23, Blake was shot seven times in the back by the police as he tried to enter his SUV, where his three sons bore witness. CNN reported that prior to the shooting, Blake broke up a fight between two women.
The Louisville Community Bail Fund is using donations to bail out protestors and “provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety.”
The Chicago Community Bond Fund pays bond for people in Cook County, Illinois. As the organization stated, the “inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children,” so donating to these types of organizations is crucial.
The Philadelphia Bail Fund continues to receive referrals for people who desperately need access to donations. A one-time or recurring donation can help free someone.
The Peoples City Council Freedom Fund helps Los Angeles protestors with legal support, bail, fines, and court fees.
To help out in Houston, check out Restoring Justice, which also provides trauma care and additional help navigating the criminal justice system.
The Colorado Freedom Fund can generally assist those in Denver and the surrounding areas with cash bonds up to $500.
The Columbus Freedom Fund is helping out Ohio residents who were arrested for protesting.
The Massachusetts Bail Fund has freed more than 2,745 people since it’s been active and encourages donors to give however much they can.
While you should definitely donate to your local fund and cities where the need is the greatest, if you want to donate to a national fund, The Bail Project National Revolving Bail Fund is a solid option. You can also donate directly to NAACP, Equal Justice Initiative, Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, Unicorn Riot, LGBTQ Fund, Emergency Release Fund, and Trans Justice Funding Project, which are all helping on a national level.
Read Up on the Issues
Teen Vogue and Elle compiled super-useful guides on anti-racism reads and how you can use your voice and privilege to fight for a better America. Also, check out Campaign Zero’s 10-step plan of action for ending police brutality and eight policies that can decrease police violence by 72 percent. Within the #8CantWait page, you can search your city and see if it has enacted any of the eight policies. If your city isn’t doing enough, the website automatically gives you the contact information for your mayor. (Note: While Campaign Zero does have some useful resources, many have criticized the organization and this initiative for its data analysis and lack of transparency, so please think deeply before you donate to it and as you read their materials.)
Be Cautious About What You Share Online
As many have pointed out, avoid sharing images of protestors who can later be found and targeted. Also, consider how sharing violent images of Black people being killed takes a mental and emotional toll on those who see them, especially without warning. You do not have to share a graphic video of a Black person being killed to demand justice and speak out against racism.
As people take to the streets to protest, it’s so important to know that if you’re an ally, your responsibility is to amplify the voices of Black people, make sure they’re not being mistreated by the police, and not incite violence or create a path of destruction. It’s totally understandable that people are upset and angry and have gone this direction—not telling anyone how to feel here!—but please keep in mind that it is Black people who will be accused and face the repercussions of looting and destroying cities during these protests even if they’re not the ones doing it.
If you can’t make it out to a protest, you can still participate virtually. Although the date for the virtual protest has passed, you’re still encouraged to contact Kentucky officials and go through this list of demands that Loralei HoJay, the creator of the Change.org petition for Taylor, thoughtfully wrote out for everyone:
Sometimes it feels like voting won’t change anything, but it’s vital that we all continue to exercise our right to vote. After all, positions like the attorney general in Kentucky are elected ones. Your vote matters, so use it. Check out this guide for all the information you need to register to vote.
Check in With Your Black Friends
Take time to check in with your Black friends, coworkers, and classmates who are struggling and still trying to go about their daily lives right now. A little goes a long way, but be sure to consider your relationship with them before reaching out and do so in a way that doesn’t put any additional burdens on them.
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