In the little more than three weeks since George Floyd was brutally murdered by the Minneapolis police department, the massive Black Lives Matter demonstrations all over the world have managed to move public opinion in ways once thought unimaginable. Though there have not yet been any convictions of the four officers involved in the killing that galvanized the world, a cop even being charged with murder in the United States is sadly virtually unheard of. As the protests continue, here is a list of just some of the accomplishments of the Black Lives Matter Movement in the past 3 weeks:
- 11 charges have been brought against Atlanta police officer Garret Rolfe after he shot Rayshard Brooks in the back and murdered him. One of the charges includes felony murder.
- After the Minneapolis police were forced to flee the police precinct before it was set ablaze, Officer Derek Chauvin who murdered George Floyd by kneeling on his neck was charged with 3rd degree murder.
- As the protests in Minneapolis continued and spread all over the United States, the remaining 3 officers who took part in the lynching of George Floyd were charged and Derek Chauvin’s charge was upgraded to second degree murder. While it ought to be a given that police who brutally murder unarmed people should be charged and sentenced, reality is quite different. In fact they are practically never convicted of killing civilians at all regardless of the circumstances. This, despite the fact they kill people at 100x the rate of other capitalist countries.
- For possibly the first time in modern U.S. history there is serious discussion of defunding massive police budgets. Public opinion is also shifting with 52% of Democratic voters in support of defunding the police.
- A veto-proof majority of Minneapolis city council members voted to begin the process of completely disbanding the Minneapolis police department. In a joint statement they announced, “Decades of police reform efforts have proved that the Minneapolis Police Department cannot be reformed and will never be held accountable for its action.”
- Calls are growing to expel the police from the U.S. labor movement. Workers are also beginning to question why it is that strike-breakers and union-busters have a union of their own in the first place. On June 17, the Martin Luther King County Labor Council in Seattle voted to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild.
- Public schools have begun taking steps to remove police from the classrooms in cities like Minneapolis, Portland and Oakland. (On June 24, one month after George Floyd was killed, the Oakland school board voted unanimously to eliminate police officers from Oakland schools.)
- Monuments to white supremacy are being toppled, defaced and removed from Houston to Philadelphia. These statues include memorials to Christopher Columbus as well as generals and leaders of the southern confederacy. (The statue of KKK founder Nathan Bedford Forest in Nashville has yet to be toppled however.)
- Some tech companies are no longer offering facial recognition technology to police, which in the past has lead to mistaken identifications and false arrests.
- Racist propaganda shows like ‘Cops’ and ‘Live PD’ have been canceled and pulled from the air entirely. Last year, in March, a Black man named Javier Ambler was killed by police as Live PD cameras were filming in Austin, Texas. Much like George Floyd, Ambler uttered the words “I can’t breathe” before taking his final breath. A&E Networks hid the footage for 15 months.
Make no mistake about it. The charges against Derek Chauvin and the other 3 Minneapolis police officers who killed George Floyd would not have been brought had hundreds of thousands of people not taken to the streets to demand it. The ruling class, particularly in the United States, has never moved in the direction of justice without being forced by a mass movement of working class people.