In the weeks following the tragic death of George Floyd, millions of people all over the world have taken to the streets to demand justice, protest the police, and call for reforms. As part of efforts to spread awareness, activists painted a massive “BLACK LIVES MATTER” yellow mural on the road to the White House. The area was named Black Lives Matter Plaza, complete with a new street sign. But what is BLM, anyway?
The Origins of BLM
Black Lives Matter is a pressure group that originated from the black community. It holds protests – online and in-person – against allegations of systemic racism and violence toward minorities. BLM organizers say they stand for more than a dozen principles, including diversity, empathy, and globalism. Especially since the Floyd murder, BLM is calling to get rid of police forces.
What started as a Twitter hashtag in the summer of 2013, BLM has turned into a global human rights social campaign. Its efforts have taken inspiration from many other movements from the past. This includes the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1980s, and even Occupy Wall Street in 2011.
BLM became a cultural force known all over the world thanks to the Twitter hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. The first physical, non-violent protest occurred across the U.S. in 2014 after a black man named Michael Brown died in the custody of the Ferguson, Missouri police. Since then, BLM protests typically spring up anytime there is a questionable death of a black person, and the police are involved.
The movement is not lead by a central person or group, but many well-known black figures have spoken at its events or engaged with the group: Reverend Al Sharpton, Angela Stanton-King, Shaun King, Jesse Jackson, and many others.
The organization has received both praise and criticism over the years.
BLM has been celebrated for holding mostly peaceful protests and bringing attention to an important issue. A lot of individuals associated with BLM have condemned riots and looting that have taken place in the U.S.
On the other hand, some members have promoted violence and aggressive tactics.
Critics argue that the movement has refused to focus on some issues. For instance, BLM has been slammed for not acknowledging violence against black Americans when the perpetrators are also black (known as black-on-black crime), a massive problem in America’s inner cities.
Commentators say other opportunistic forces have co-opted BLM, using it to promote far-left ideologies rather than focusing on equality for black Americans.
It has been suggested that BLM’s anti-police message indirectly contributed to rising crime rates in the black community because police officers were less active in enforcing the law, arresting suspects, and doing their jobs.
Black Lives Matter will likely be a permanent force for many years to come. Until many of the activists see their demands realized, such as a defunding of law enforcement and widespread reforms, BLM protests will keep occurring anytime there are reports of police wrongdoing. Whether their requests results in real change of inner cities and the overall black community or not, remains to be seen.