Nationwide Black Lives Matter rallies continue to demand real change

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News

In the days since video evidence surfaced clearly showing a white police officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, for 8 minutes and 46 seconds that resulted in Floyd’s death, protests have erupted across the United States. From Minneapolis to New York and from Atlanta to Seattle, thousands upon thousands of concerned citizens have taken to the streets in a show of solidarity. Their message: Black Lives Matter.

These peaceful protests are part of fifteen consecutive days and counting of nationwide demonstrations in direct response to the death of George Floyd on May 25. In memory of both him and countless other people of color who have died while in police custody, the people of this country are forcing the media, corporate elites, and anyone with a TV or internet connection to reexamine America’s deep-seated notions of racial equality and justice for all.

Over the weekend of June 5, the Black Lives Matter movement united hundreds of people across the racial spectrum in the city of Everett. Armed with only eye-catching signs and their bold presence, the peaceful rally began at the always busy intersection of Everett Avenue and Broadway, just four blocks from Snohomish County Jail and Everett Municipal Court.

“We’re out here because our lives matter. Police brutality is just tremendous right now. We want them to stop killing us,” explained Alana Wilson as she stood proudly with her daughters. “My kids our here with me because they need to understand this is the world we live in and, unfortunately, we have to have these conversations with our kids. It’s a lot for them to grasp, but it’s important they know.”

Her 9-year-old daughter Laylah held a handmade sign in honor of George Floyd’s final words, ‘I can’t breathe!’ At such a young age, Laylah recounted watching the horrifying video of Floyd’s final minutes and said it was important everyone remember him. “I want people to know that we are all the same,” she said. “We all matter.”

As demonstrators stretched a block in every direction, holding up their signs and clenched fists in protest against systemic racial injustice and police brutality, they received an outpouring of support from commuters who continuously honked, yelled out ‘Black Lives Matter’ or held their own signs from their vehicle’s open window. 

  “We’re here in support of the city for showing support for us and this Black Lives Matter movement,” shared Rafael Harris. “We appreciate the solidarity and all the love we are getting out here. This is a networking opportunity. By being out here we all are putting our thoughts and minds into action. What can we do? How can we assist? These are opportunities for us to be the change that makes a real difference for our future and our children’s future.”

Among the hundreds of demonstrators was a group of local teachers from North Middle School. “We are standing together to support our students and our community,” explained 6th grade math teacher Shauna Harris. “Enough is enough. We can’t keep letting this happen and to continue to watch it happen and nothing be done is unacceptable.”

Protesters nationwide are demanding police reforms and a reckoning with institutional racism in response to George Floyd’s death. Calls to ‘defund the police’ have become rallying cries for many. A heavy-handed response to demonstrations in several major cities has highlighted what some critics have maintained: law enforcement has become militarized and too often defaults to using excessive force.

In the wake of George Floyd’s homicide and his preceding pleas for help catching wildfire in the eyes and minds of millions, his memory lives on in the countless peaceful protests already held and the many more to come. Their accomplishments are too many to list outright, with the most significant being Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin arrested and charged with second-degree murder, and for the three other officers who failed to intervene also being arrested and charged with aiding and abetting.

“Nothing can be done to bring back our brother George Floyd, but these are steps in the right direction,” shared demonstrator Rick Nelson. “By being together, showing love and unity, and being positive examples to our families and community as black folk, we are showing the world this is our moment. It’s our time. 

“Getting everyone to come together like this is how real change happens,” he continued. “This is not a problem only one race can solve. It’s a problem everyone has to solve. It’s not just about unlawful cops. It’s about equality. It’s about reforming the justice system. It’s about being better for our community and our planet.”

There is a Marysville-Tulalip Peaceful March Against Racism happening on Thursday, June 11, beginning at 1:00pm at Jennings Park.