There has always been some form of a movement happening in America within the past couple of centuries such as the civil rights and women’s’ movements. Within this decade the Black Lives Matter has become a huge platform for black citizens to be able to speak their minds and express what they feel America needs to change. According to the Black Lives Matter website, “the Black Lives Matter Global Network is a chapter-based, member-led organization whose mission is to build local power and to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes”.
BLM is an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards black people.
BLM regularly holds protests speaking out against police killings of black people, and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, and racial inequality in the United States criminal justice system. This movement is something that has really affected the media in America these days because it is calling attention to the things that the media is looking past when it comes to hate crimes in the black community.
Black Lives Matter gets a bad reputation sometimes do to the radical actions that are taken by supporters sometimes. Another effect that the Black Lives Matter movement has made is the way politics is being treated.
The Black Lives Matter organization was founded on July 13, 2013, by Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. The intention of the organization “was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities” (Black Lives Matter).
In 2013, the movement began with the use of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on social media after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012 (Lowery). Black Lives Matter became nationally recognized for its street demonstrations following the 2014 deaths of two African Americans: Michael Brown, resulting in protests in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York City.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a New York City Police Department officer put him in a chokehold for about 15 to 19 seconds while arresting him (Luibrand). NYPD policy prohibits the use of chokeholds. The officer denied choking Garner. NYPD officers approached Garner on suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. After Garner told the police that he was tired of being harassed and that he was not selling cigarettes, the officers went to arrest Garner. When officer Daniel Pantaleo tried to take Garner’s wrist behind his back, Garner pulled his arms away. Pantaleo then put his arm around Garner’s neck and took him down onto the ground. After Pantaleo removed his arm from Garner’s neck, he pushed the side of Garner’s face into the ground while four officers moved to restrain Garner, who repeated ‘I can’t breathe’ eleven times while lying face down on the sidewalk.
After Garner lost consciousness, officers turned him onto his side to ease his breathing. Garner remained lying on the sidewalk for seven minutes while the officers waited for an ambulance to arrive. The officers and emergency medical technicians did not perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Garner at the scene; according to a spokesman for the PBA, this was because they believed that Garner was breathing and that it would be improper to perform CPR on someone who was still breathing. He was pronounced dead at the hospital approximately one hour later (Goldstein and Schweber). On August 9, 2014, Michael Brown Jr., an 18-year-old African American man, was fatally shot by a white police officer, 28-year-old Darren Wilson, in the city of Ferguson, Missouri. Wilson said that an altercation ensued when Brown attacked Wilson in his police vehicle for control of Wilson’s gun until it was fired. Brown then fled, with Wilson in pursuit of Brown.
Wilson stated that Brown stopped and charged him after a short pursuit. In the entire altercation, Wilson fired a total of twelve bullets, including twice during the struggle in the car; the last was probably the fatal shot. Brown was hit a total of six times from the front (Robles and Bosman). Since the Ferguson protests, participants in the movement have demonstrated against the deaths of numerous other African Americans by police actions or while in police custody. Police brutality is one of the main issues that the organization is trying to eradicate. This has caused the media to become a lot more aware of what police are doing that negatively impacts their community. Black Lives Matter has become very influential due to the power of social media being able to get the message out.
In the summer of 2015, Black Lives Matter activists became involved in the 2016 United States presidential election. The organization itself has good motives and means well but this movement has strongly impacted politics in a positive and negative way in within the past 5 years (Khan-Cullors). Some of the members on August 8, 2015, attended a speech by Democratic presidential candidate and civil rights activist Bernie Sanders. It was disrupted by a group from the Seattle Chapter of Black Lives Matter including chapter co-founder Marissa Johnson who walked onstage, took the microphone from him and called his supporters racists and white supremacists. Due to this act, even though it was seen as very outrages, there was a change in the support from the Democratic party (Brunner).
In August 2015, the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution supporting Black Lives Matter (Seitz-Wald). People are starting to believe that the only way to be able to get what they want in a political society is by making big statements. This may be true though because that seems to be the only way for BLM to be able to get these high political figures to make a change in the laws. Since BLM has such a large platform it has caused a lot of negative attention from people who have opposing viewpoints. The hate and misunderstanding that the BLM organization has faced have caused members of not only the organization but also the black community to respond back to try to eliminate the hate. This being said, the original message and meaning of Black Lives Matter is starting to fade due to the number of people who are using the hashtag or phrase as a way to validate and defend their actions to speak up and put down another race for not agreeing with their own opinions. BLM has become a form of identity politics.
According to dictionary.com the definition for identity politics is the following, “political activity or movements based on or catering to the cultural, ethnic, gender, racial, religious, or social interests that characterize a group identity”. Black Lives Matter was originally created to make the public aware of the issue that the Black community is facing when it comes to the justice system. The BLM movement has now branched out to be a symbol of all problems the black lives face. People are now in identity politics because that is now the normal movement to be a part of in the community. Others are following the leadership of people who are saying they are advocates for BLM when all their trying to raise awareness on is their own viewpoints. Politics are the biggest part of the movement. The main goal is to be able to get law enforcement and politicians to be able to have America be a safe place for the Black community. The members who are using the organization in the correct manner have been able to make good progress towards their goals. The issue is the people who are forgetting the core beliefs and just want to use the title BLM to get their other agenda across.