The Black Lives Matter movement, which started as a hashtag in 2013, has become a major phenomenon. But with the recent killing of Rayshard Brooks, some now wonder if it has made the desired impact?
Just when America seems to be making progress with the Black Lives Matter movement, another black man is killed.
The black man, 27-year-old Rayshard Brooks, was said to have been killed by a white police officer after he was found sleeping in his car in the drive-through lane of a Wendy’s restaurant in Atlanta.
According to reports, an employee of the restaurant had called the authorities to complain that someone had fallen asleep in his car.
When police officers arrived, Brooks took off running, but not before grabbing a Taser from one of them.
One of the officers, Garret Rolfe, had then shot the fleeing man in the back and proceeded to kick him as he lay on the ground struggling for life.
The last moments of the young man are reminiscent of George Floyd’s dying minutes.
46-year-old Floyd had died under similar circumstances, struggling for life as he lay on the ground with a police officer’s knee on his neck for close to nine minutes.
From a Hashtag to a Major Phenomenon
Floyd’s death sparked outrage and protests across cities in the US and beyond, reawakening the Black Lives Matter movement which began as a hashtag in 2013.
The hashtag had gone viral on social media in response to Trayvon Martin’s death. Martin was a 17-year-old boy killed by a community watch guard on his way home from the convenience store. The guard had said he acted in self-defence and was later acquitted of all charges after a trial.
Over the years, we have seen the movement grow into a major phenomenon, one that protests against police brutality and the killings of African Americans.
This year, after Floyd’s death, the movement grew on an unprecedented scale and of a magnitude that has never before been witnessed.
Protests were staged across cities in the US and beyond, getting the attention of the police, mayors, governors and the justice system. Finally, it looked like the people would get the justice they were fighting for.
Charges were brought against Floyd’s killer, Derek Chauvin, and his three accomplices who had previously been let off with a sack.
#BLM Movement: A Fight for Justice and Equality
But it was impossible to ignore the reaction of some policemen to the protests. The same issues which the people were protesting against were witnessed firsthand by protesters when the police cracked down on them.
Still, protesters refused to back down, putting up with severe measures taken by the police. They came out in large numbers, in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, taking to the streets to seek justice and equality.
The #BLM protests were staged to demand change, change in law enforcement's bias against black people, change in the justice system which tolerates police brutality, and a change in the American culture which encourages a disregard for black people and does not hold law enforcement accountable for their actions.
Perhaps the Black Lives Matter movement has not quite made the impact many had hoped it would, but it has influenced more positive changes than it ever has since its inception seven years ago.
Will there be a movement like the Black Lives Matter in Nigeria? After all, there is just as much police brutality here as there is in America.