ORLANDO, Fla. – It’s an incident that has started a national conversation-- the death of George Floyd.
Video shows the final moments of his life: the African American on the ground, with Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck. In the video, Floyd is heard telling the officer he couldn’t breathe -- until he couldn’t anymore.
The image has triggered outrage across the country resulting in protests in various states from Minneapolis to New York to difficult conversations hosted on social media and even around the dinner table.
People are reacting to each development which bodes the question: what can I do? The answer is a lot. It just depends on how you want to take action.
Social Media Activism
One post can get a lot of exposure.
This is primarily to spread awareness. In the digital age, movements are now being studied and reported on by retweets and shares, so your input counts. According to a 2018 Pew Research study, around half of Americans have engaged in some form of political or social-minded activity on social media over the course of the year. This included encouraging others to take action on issues important to them, looking up information on local protests or rallies and using hashtags related to a political or social issue. Needless to say, Pew Research has deemed this form of activism an engaging one (depending on the age group).
Key tips are to make sure you’re not spreading misinformation and to support the journalists on the ground getting each new detail to events. Be careful about sharing potentially triggering images with disclaimers or consider not sharing them at all. The point here is to be intentional with what you’re posting and understanding that it may spark conversation, so be sure to be educated about what you’re reposting and contribute to the discussion. This is also probably the easiest and simplest way to take action, but you won’t necessarily make the biggest impact.
There’s power in your name.
Officer Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but there were three other officers present that have not been charged in relation to the incident.
For those who believe they should face legal repercussions, there are petitions circling online to push Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to bring about charges against the other three officers. People can head to change.org and sign the Justice for George Floyd petition which, as of Saturday at 9:00 a.m., had nearly 7 million signatures and counting. People can also text FLOYD to 55156 to list their names or call 612-348-5550 to support the Color of Change petition as well.
Petitioning is part of one’s First Amendment rights, much like one’s right to protest. Legitimate petitions show that people care about an issue and put pressure for a government to take action. Just be wary that petitions serve support for a particular action or issue.
Donate To Support
It’s a small way to make a big difference.
The cost of activism has a hefty price tag when it comes to financially supporting people working to make a change -- or in this case, supporting a family that has to deal with an untimely death.
To make sure your contributions are going to the right place, consider donating to the Official George Floyd Memorial Fund on GoFundMe. According to the campaign, Floyd’s brother Philonise is collecting funds to cover the costs of Floyd’s funeral, grief counseling and court proceedings.
The Minnesota Freedom Fund is also collecting donations to help pay bail for demonstrators who are arrested during protests. Those looking to financially contribute can also donate funds or supplies to the Black Visions Collective and Reclaim the Block. People can also donate to medics assisting protestors on the ground at Northstar Health Collective.
Join A Demonstration or Protest
Showing support online is important but one could be part of the demonstrations rather than just share photos of them.
You could check to see if your local Black Lives Matter group is hosting an event or search for other social justice organizations in your area. Some are even providing virtual ways to make a statement.
Remember, we are in a pandemic so socially distancing and public health is still a concern that should not be taken lightly. Consider wearing a mask and hand sanitizer, as noted bt the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines. If you can, bring extra supplies to help keep people safe.
Before jumping in on demonstrations, know your rights and how the pandemic has changed social gathering laws in your area. This could include stay-at-home orders, curfews and restrictions mandated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. You can often check these laws on your county’s website and learn more about your rights here.
Support Those Fighting In The Courtroom
Though Floyd has brought social justice back into the national headlines, there are people who are fighting for justice in the legal system every day-- and they need help.
We already discussed contributing financially, but there are other ways you can physically show up. Consider volunteering for local organizations who are sorting through these cases or attending their events as they organize support.
Two of the more popular organizations that do this nationwide are the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. You can also consider supporting your local Black Lives Matter chapter.
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Thank you @Beyonce for recognizing the importance of organizations like ours, especially in times like these! #WeAreDoneDying #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd To support and join the fight, click the link in her bio and donate to the NAACP https://www.beyonce.com/to-seek-justice-for-george-floyd/
Know Your Rights And Use Them
You have more power than you may realize.
Students, protestors and those recording events they see in public -- you all have rights and they could be different.
It’s imperative to know what your rights are whether you want to be an active participant in demonstrations or a spectator.
As a disclaimer, not everyone will be comfortable taking action nor is everyone comfortable taking action in the same ways. The first step to taking action is recognizing if you even want to help in the first place.
If you think there’s another important resource I should add, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.