Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, people across the nation have turned to protest to make their voices heard.
As protests escalate and spread across the country, the LMU community reflects on what they’ve seen and how they want to enact change.
As previously reported, protests started after a video emerged of George Floyd’s murder. Since then, Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer, has been charged with second-degree murder in addition to his original charges.
The three other former officers have also been charged with “aiding and abetting second-degree murder while committing a felony, and with aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence,” according to the Star Tribune.
Floyd is one of many other innocent Black people killed by police across the country. For many in Minneapolis and nationwide, Floyd’s death represents years of systemic racism and oppression, especially at the hands of the police.
A graduate from the class of 2020 who requested to remain anonymous due to having received death threats in the past for speaking out, stated that, “These protests are the harvest of those seeds planted by white supremacy. I do not condone the looting, especially looting of black owned business; however, how else do you expect oppressed people to respond? They are rightfully angry, upset, hurt and confused over the public murder and execution of George Floyd and countless others before him.”
Giselle Durand, a rising senior theatre arts major, is currently located in Minneapolis where many of the protests have been taking place.
“People were gathering and mostly adhering to social distancing rules actually and then it was the cops who started firing tear gas at the protestors on Tuesday night,” said Durand.
Tear gas is a chemical weapon that causes irritation of and pain to the respiratory system, eyes and skin. It is used by police forces to disperse crowds but has been largely outlawed in wartime worldwide since 1993, according to Healthline. Increased controversy lies in the fact that the U.S. is currently facing the COVID-19 pandemic, which attacks the respiratory system, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Disproportionate force at the hands of the police has been reported in many major cities during protests, according to The Marshall Project. Researchers have found that when police escalate their use of force, peaceful protests become “not so peaceful,” also according to The Marshall Project.
“The media is doing a poor job of showing the reality of the situation but I am not surprised,” said the anonymous source. “We have seen historically how the media has portrayed black people as violent, thieves and aggressive and even right now with the peaceful protests people have captured videos of the police sending undercover cops to break windows, start fires, send people to tag windows, et cetera.”
Brion Dennis, a rising junior finance major and chief programming officer of ASLMU, shared resources for the LMU community. He recommended a website with numerous resources and the Showing Up For Racial Justice website for ways to get involved and educational content.
Dennis recommended additional content directed toward college students that addresses issues such as racism in sorority and fraternity life and how scholars perpetuate white supremacy as well as an article for college students to learn about the privilege in their identities.
The anonymous source recommends that students get involved by donating to bail funds, providing supplies or utilizing other resources.
“Activism is not monolithic. But silence and just sharing a post and going about your day is not helping, it is enabling,” they said. They also wanted to call out the organizations on campus that have remained silent, emphasizing that hashtags and social media posts are not enough.
ASLMU released a statement on their Instagram account in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and as a call to action for the LMU community.
“To our Black community members, we stand in solidarity with you. The burden of fighting for equality does not fall solely on you. To our non-Black community members, we call on you to prioritize education about the history of systemic oppression and the ways in which our nation continues to uphold systems of White Supremacy,” said ASLMU.
In a letter to the LMU community, President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D., stated that “Our Catholic, Jesuit, and Marymount mission demands that we stand in solidarity and hold ourselves and our society accountable for this intolerable lack of progress.”
The email acknowledged the history of slavery and “collective complacency” especially of those in power, as the forces that have allowed the “original sin” of this country to continue.
“[LMU should] release a statement actively denouncing LAPD’s history and use of excessive force,” said Jaida Macklin (’20), an English major and recent graduate. “Everyone is necessary in this fight, especially institutions of higher learning.”
The anonymous source believes that Black students on LMU’s campus are lacking in support and that LMU needs to step up the “solidarity and support of the black community and black voices if they are truly going to embody the concept of promotion of social justice.”
“I want to clarify that I am not the voice for the whole black community. In my opinion, I appreciate the office of Black student services and the ethnic and intercultural department on campus; however, giving a space is not enough,” said the source.
“Practice discernment and understand that the Black Lives Matter is not a movement to say that Black People are better than everyone else. It is saying that our lives matter too,” they said. “We are tired of being third-class citizens. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”