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Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a black-centered political will and movement started in 2013 by Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors; three radical black organizers responding to oppression aimed at black people (Black Lives Matter, 2019). The group has been crucial in voicing grievances while increasing awareness of black oppression in the United States and worldwide. As a result, BLM is associated with safeguarding the liberty of all African Americans. Through protests and rallies, the movement keeps the government, its policies, and other perceptions prevalent in societies in check and fights for amendments to these policies and perceptions.
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Policies and regulations are crucial for the stability of any civilization. In the US, policies keep order while presenting the consequences of breaking these rules. BLM is increasingly becoming more interested in looking into these laws and regulations. As a result, it often inquiries into specific laws while also seeking to influence some. The movement significantly impacted laws and policies in the police force after the murder of Freddy Gray in 2015. Gray’s murder occurred in Baltimore and resulted in massive protests. He died from injuries while being arrested (MacDonald & Dobrowolsky, 2020). The officers accused of his death were acquitted in 2016. This indicated the lack of accountability that often came with police brutality.
The rallies and protests, however, impacted laws regarding the police force. For instance, this incident, along with other forms of police brutality made famous by the movement, resulted in civilian oversight, such as the Sheriff Oversight Commission (2016) in California (Vankin, 2021). It is vital to oversee accusations of police conduct. The BLM movement facilitated and supported these policies that pledged to eliminate police brutality in the country.
The murder of George Floyd in 2020 was also a catalyst for seeking more reforms within the justice system. In Floyd’s case, he was accused of passing a counterfeit $20 note when he was arrested and murdered by a police officer who placed his knee on his neck during the arrest. (Dreyer et al., 2020). This situation was caught on camera and sparked outrage in the BLM movement. His crime was non-violent but was not treated as such. In the age of social media, such information travels fast worldwide. An assessment of the officer shows that he had more than seventeen complaints of misconduct over the last twenty years (including brutality) but only got two reprimand letters (Dreyer et al., 2020). The situation shows a lack of oversight and accountability.
Movements such as BLM advocated for monitoring the use of force policies by local police such as choke holds and other potential force. The movement also birthed other policies across the country. Reforms such as making officer disciplinary records public and reducing military equipment purchases were introduced after Freddy Gray’s and George Floyd’s deaths. These policies help develop accountability among police departments in the country.
Impacts on the Society
Society has also witnessed various changes as a result of the BLM. These changes can be attributed to the various protests and rallies conducted after the increase in police brutality cases of the last decade, such as the death of George Floyd. These changes have improved societies considerably. Change often starts in the family, communities, and societies. It is therefore vital for the movement to seek change within these units.
Following an increase in protests that often equated police brutality to racism, numerous changes have been observed in society. Several contentious monuments have been removed from society in states such as Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Kentucky (Hogan, 2020). These monuments are primarily of racist figures, especially those of the confederacy. Others include slave trade monuments used to auction enslaved people, which have been a source of controversy for decades. These societal changes can be attributed to the movement, which seeks to end police brutality against African Americans and fight anti-black racism (MacDonald & Dobrowolsky, 2020). Removing these monuments in society is dignified as these figures and places immortalize racism.
The aftermath of BLM George Floyd’s protests and rallies resulted in a motion to cut $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department budget, which would assist disadvantaged communities of color (Hogan, 2020). The movement has therefore played a crucial role in transforming communities and societies within the US.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) has significantly influenced various policies and societal changes. Events such as the death of Freddie Gray and George Floyd and constant rallies motivated by anti-black racism in the country have resulted in civilian oversight policies, force guideline revision, and removal of anti-black racism monuments. The movement has also resulted in the betterment of several societies through its rallies and protests. BLM is, therefore, a vital movement that oversees the laws and speaks on various inequalities within society and can easily be regarded as the 21st century’s civil rights movement.
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- Black Lives Matter. (2019). Herstory – Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter; Black Lives Matter. https://blacklivesmatter.com/herstory/
- Dreyer, B. P., Trent, M., Anderson, A. T., Askew, G. L., Boyd, R., Coker, T. R., Coyne-Beasley, T., Fuentes-Afflick, E., Johnson, T., Mendoza, F., Montoya-Williams, D., Oyeku, S. O., Poitevien, P., Spinks-Franklin, A. A. I., Thomas, O. W., Walker-Harding, L., Willis, E., Wright, J. L., Berman, S., & Berkelhamer, J. (2020). The Death of George Floyd: Bending the Arc of History Towards Justice for Generations of Children. Pediatrics, 146(3). https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-009639
- Hogan, A. (2020, June 10). 8 Changes That Have Happened Since Black Lives Matter Protests Started. Best Life. https://bestlifeonline.com/black-lives-matter-progress/
- MacDonald, F., & Dobrowolsky, A. (2020). Turbulent Times, Transformational Possibilities?: Gender and Politics Today and Tomorrow. In Google Books. University of Toronto Press. https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=P8bhDwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA240&dq=The+intersectional+politics+of+Black+Lives+Matter&ots=O5jue2afbu&sig=49Qf7u2zdzCqxDdDFmud5PpLDMs&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=The%20intersectional%20politics%20of%20Black%20Lives%20Matter&f=false
- Vankin, J. (2021, July 25). Civilian Sheriff’s Oversight Is Now Law in California. Will It Make a Difference? California Local. https://californialocal.com/localnews/statewide/ca/article/show/571-sheriffs-oversight-law-ab-1185/