The protests against police brutality stemming from the death of George Floyd will eventually die down nationwide, according to activist Tamika Mallory, but the next inflection point for demonstrators will come as the Minneapolis officers charged in relation to his killing head to court.
Mallory, co-founder of Until Freedom, an intersectional social justice organization, and a co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington in 2017, said in an interview with Yahoo News that, after 11 straight days of protests, there comes a time that demonstrators should be able to go home, but that there is also more work to be done.
“In this particular moment, I believe that protesters should go home,” Mallory said. “We should be able to sit back and say, ‘OK, we’ve got a small victory here, and now I need to protect myself from COVID-19.’ … But then when it’s time for the court cases, and those officers are going to court, the police will be showing up. We have to be there as well. We need to be outside those courts. We need to make sure busloads, carloads, trainloads are showing up. So the movement begins again.”
Mallory, 40, has become a leading voice in the fight against injustice and police brutality. Her parents were founding members of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights organization, the National Action Network. At 15, she joined the NAA as a staff member before becoming its youngest director. She worked closely with the Obama administration on gun control legislation.
“My own leadership developed out of that,” Mallory says of her time with Sharpton. “He always gave me the freedom to explore my leadership style, but we all need a foundation. … As a woman who has a lot of support from many different people, I have had to find my own way.”
Finding her own way led Mallory to give what many people are calling “the speech of a generation” during a rally in Minneapolis on May 29. In the speech, which has since gone viral on social media, Mallory noted that the country is currently in a “state of emergency.” She added, in addressing the media, that the focus shouldn’t be on burning buildings, but instead on the institutionalized injustice of black people being killed and their killers not being held accountable.
“The reason buildings are burning is not just for our brother George Floyd,” Mallory said during that speech. “They’re burning down because people here in Minnesota are saying to people in New York, to people in California, to people in Memphis, to people across this nation, enough is enough.”
“I don’t give a damn if they burn down,” Mallory added. “I don’t give a damn if they burn down Target, because Target should be on the streets with us, calling for the justice that our people deserve.”
About 200 Target stores nationwide temporarily closed or shortened hours as a result of protests and looting. On Friday, the Minneapolis-based company announced it would donate $10 million to civil rights organizations, including the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum.
“Target stands with black families, communities and team members,” said its CEO, Brian Cornell, in a statement Friday. “As we face an inflection point in Minneapolis and across the country, we’re listening to our team, guests and communities, committed to using our size, scale and resources to help heal and create lasting change.”
Since Mallory’s speech, all four officers charged in Floyd’s killing have been arrested, including Derek Chauvin, who was filmed planting his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. A trio of men allegedly responsible for Ahmaud Arbery’s murder near Brunswick, Ga., in February have also been arrested. The officers charged with Breonna Taylor’s death in Louisville, Ky., in March remain on administrative leave, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Aside from the focus on the court proceedings for the officers charged in Floyd’s killing, Mallory says she’s also “charged up to fight for [Breonna Taylor]” because, she says, “women don’t get the same support in these movements as our brothers.”
“We should absolutely be fighting for the Trayvon Martins and the George Floyds and the Ahmaud Arberys every single time,” she said. “So anytime something happens to our brothers, there needs to be a movement that is strong and powerful. However, we need to keep that same energy when it comes to our women.”
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