The Black Lives Matter Controversy

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, causing bystanders to video the event and post it to social media. Footage of traffic cameras and security cameras were released after Floyd’s death showing multiple angles.

The video of Floyd’s Death blew the police brutality controversy to exorbitant amounts, causing it to be a worldwide issue; Floyd’s death caused a burning fire to turn into a blazing inferno.

#BlackLivesMatter started trending on every social media platform as soon as the video of Floyd’s Death went viral. On June 6 of 2020, Indivisible Northeast Mississippi organized a peaceful protest in front of Tupelo City Hall. Protesters chanted “Black Lives Matter” and “no justice, no peace.” The one lead organizer Hannah Maharrey said to the Daily Journal “We’re not just here for unity, we’re here for a change.” However in larger areas, protests began in almost every major city and metropolitan area across the county. Some of the protests turned into riots, and those riots turned into looting. 

The first looting took place in Minneapolis, Minnesota at Target, people broke into Target and started taking almost anything they could. There were videos posted of this looting and showed the entire store in complete disarray.

That was only the commencement of what resembled the degradation of society. Soon after, people from all over the country started looting, and local police officers could not do anything about them. They could only prevent people from going in, letting the people who were already in before they arrived walk unimpeded with everything they collected.

It was reported that all 3 of the Minneapolis Police Department buildings were burned down by protestors. Local businesses were struck by the looting parties indiscriminately. There were videos posted of owners, Black, White, or Hispanic, showed them in complete despair.

These riots did not last for long, as former president Donald Trump assembled the national guard in seemingly problematic areas. The National Guard attempted to perform crowd control and used tear gas the protestors to get them to disperse. 

In Seattle, Washington, the residential district, Capital Hill, was seized by the people and turned into the Capital Hill Occupied Protest or Capital Hill Autonomous Zone. This area had no type of law enforcement at all. People even decided to stay in their tents, but the living conditions were awful according to the individuals who attended the protest site. People were being robbed and killed almost every day during this protest. Personal items were not an easy thing to keep in this area, as people would regularly raid people’s tents for anything of value, even if it was the tent itself. 

The cause of Floyd’s death was believed to be asphyxiation, but in Floyd’s autopsy, he was found to have dangerous amounts of Fentanyl and Methamphetamine. Due to the presence of synthetic opioids in Floyd’s body, this is currently be questioned in court if Floyd died from asphyxia caused by the Fentanyl rather than Chauvin’s knee placement. 

Reverend Randy Jones, Pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church, said to the Daily Journal that he as an African-American is tired of witnessing countless acts of racial injustices that occur in the US. 

“The system isn’t broken, the system was designed to keep us enslaved,” Jones said

Tupelo Police Chief, Bart Aguirre, spoke at the protest about the recent events that occurred. 

“We do not condone what happened in that video — We do not ever wanna see that happen in Tupelo by a Tupelo Police Officer,” Aguirre said “We are changing the way we do things; we’ve looked at our training procedures.”

The Tupelo Police Department seeks to ensure the safety of all people regardless of racial background by “[continuing] to dig deep [in reforming policy and ethical training to] make sure that things will be done the right way” according to Aguirre. 

Sophomore Charles Burleson weighed in on this issue, he notes that the Black Lives Matter movement and the peaceful protests were a really good thing.

“I definitely feel like [the BLM protests] was [a] good [thing] to be promoted and highlighted, because police brutality is a very serious problem [in the United States] that needs to be addressed directly,” Burleson said

However, Burleson highlights that Black Lives Matter lost its meaning when it “resulted [in] burning buildings and robbing stores — it was just a bit too far.”

Burleson noted that Black Lives Matter did not teach him anything significant, he “always liked and tried to show as much love to people of color as I can without seeming [disingenuous].”