On Memorial Day, now-former police officer Derek Chauvin apprehended an unarmed man named George Floyd. For eight minutes, Chauvin kept his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck. Videos of the incident quickly went viral. People around the country, and around the world, were spurred to protest rampant police brutality.
Surprisingly, the protests have begun to show the promise of actually changing the US for the better. After almost two weeks of widespread civil unrest, the four officers involved in Floyd’s death have been arrested and charged with serious crimes. The city of Los Angeles is going to significantly reduce their police department’s funding. And now, the city of Minneapolis is considering dismantling their entire police department and starting fresh.
Minneapolis Could Change Their Entire Police Department
Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd died, will vote on Friday to possibly take the first steps in dismantling their police department. Lisa Bender, Minneapolis city council president, stated that the city will “replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.”
The move comes as a surprise and a delight to many protesters. For decades, police reform voices in the US have called for sweeping restructuring of existing police departments. Police brutality, particularly against black people, often goes unpunished in the US. In order to address this, reformists have called for new ways of thinking about public safety.
Protests Having Real Impact
The nationwide “Black Lives Matter” protests have been having a real impact. The four police officers present at George Floyd’s arrest have all been charged with serious crimes. Many cities are reconsidering their police department funding. Polls even show that the majority of Americans support the protests.
Protesters are optimistic that their peaceful (and sometimes no-so-peaceful) demonstrations inciting social change. Earlier in the week, some protests escalated into riots and looting into the evening. Some looters pilfered items from large stores like Target. Viral images shared online showed people taking items from flat-screen TVs to soy creamers.
Protests Morph into Movement
As the week bore on, however, the protests lost their chaotic edge in most cities. Despite more instances of police brutality and excessive police force, protesters have largely remained calm and focused.
For the first time in many protesters’ lifetimes, they are finally seeing their voices heard. While America is facing down a pair of historic crises, the American people have largely risen to the challenge. Time will tell how history remembers the chaotic roller coaster that is 2020.