The wrongful death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, has sparked protests around the world to bring change to a law system that’s seen as prejudice. These protests are meant to be peaceful and shed light on how many people of color are attacked for their ethnicity by law enforcement. However, as these protests continue, there’s a repetition of these protests turning violent once police involvement occurs.
Although many claim that the protests are already “violent” because of many businesses being looted and some fights breaking out, it seems that when law enforcement comes to “make sure” that the protests remain peaceful, they’re adding more tense feelings and actions. Police have been filmed in New York driving into protestors, and in Louiseville two police officers were fired after fatally shooting a man during a protest.
This type of treatment could be because the police feel the need to use their authority to let protesters know they can forcefully shut down the protest whenever they feel it’s getting out of hand. What they don’t understand is that these protests are about police recognizing their privilege and using their authority to help people of color, not oppress them more than they already are.
Online, people are recounting their interactions with law enforcement while protesting. There are reports of police using tear gas against protesters, as well as pushing, shoving and hitting many people to get their point across. According to an article by InsideNova.com, police used pepper spray and deployed flash bangs at a protest in Manassas, Virginia, because of objects being thrown at them. The most disturbing aspect of police involvement are reports that police will act peacefully and even join protesters, but later on enact violence toward those protesters. Many accuse that the only reason police “walk with protesters” or “kneel” is because they want good publicity on their part so the media portrays them in a positive light. People have posted evidence that shows police standing with protesters, but seconds later they’re shown attacking those same protesters.
While it may not be law enforcement’s best move to get involved with protests, it’s disheartening to see that some police officers don’t seem to care about the movement. JMU student Danielle Handschuh said that, at a protest in Richmond, police were on their phones and wouldn’t acknowledge protesters when they wanted them to kneel.
“They basically just stood there or had their phones out taking pictures or videos,” Handschuh said. “We chanted at them to take a knee with us in solidarity which they refused.”
As these protests are still going on, it’s safe to say that police involvement should either be limited or remain peaceful. Law enforcement should use its power to protect all races and ethnicities and not be using such brutal circumstances to get their point across. The rising deaths of black Americans because of police brutality should be reflected by not only the police themselves, but also people who tend to shy away from issues like this one. There needs to be a swift change in how law enforcement uses its authority, and everyone needs to help the black community live a meaningful life without living in fear.
Kylee Toland is a junior Media Arts and Design major. Contact Kylee at email@example.com