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The Spill: BLM Plaza

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Black Lives Matter Plaza

The past week has been fraught with anger, despair, frustration, and pain as people protested the unnecessary death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis. Much of the outrage focused on the issue of race, as Floyd was a black man and the officer who killed him was white.

Riots broke out across the nation, causing millions of dollars in damage, lost businesses, and even lost lives. For the most part, the protesters were peaceful, demonstrating their anti-racism message – it was the looters and rioters afterward that caused most of the problems. People across America have rallied around the message and offered their support to the black community. At the center of the protests was Black Lives Matter, an activist group that campaigns for black rights.

Washington D.C.’s Democrat mayor, Muriel Bowser, decided to show support in a big way. An area near the White House in front of St. John’s Church (which was set on fire during rioting) was renamed “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” and a mural with the words emblazoned in bright yellow paint covered a two-block area. The lettering was so large that a satellite, operated by the company Planet, which is based out of San Francisco, California, caught the image. The White House can be seen on the right side of the photo and Lafayette Square in the middle. This is the area where many of the protests against police brutality took place.

Apple Maps joined in on the movement by updating its satellite imagery to show the mural. However, this was more of a “patch” job according to app sleuth Jane Manchun Wong, who pointed out Google Maps shows the Black Lives Matter Plaza but not the mural in its satellite imagery.

“As Washingtonians,” Mayor Bowser said, “we simply all want to be here together in peace to demonstrate that in America, you can peacefully assemble, you can bring grievances to your government, and you can demand change.”

Not everyone was happy with the new plaza name and mural, however. Black Lives Matter Global Network said it was “a performative distraction from real policy changes” and a way “to appease white liberals while ignoring our demands.”

Others disapproved of the message, saying that Black Lives Matter was responsible for some of the violence.

Protests Go International

The cry heard ‘round the world? This week, that was the demand for the end of police brutality and the protests and riots that broke out in response to a white police officer kneeling on a black man’s neck for several minutes until he died. Although the killing of George Floyd happened in America, the outrage at the injustice has reached a global level, and people everywhere are joining together to fight against racism and mistreatment by law enforcement.

While some have said the American policing system is not relevant in other countries, that didn’t stop thousands of people from expressing their outrage around the world.

In London, protesters took a knee for nine minutes in Trafalgar Square. This was the length of time the officer pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck. The demonstrators then marched to the U.S. embassy. The city’s Metropolitan Police said they had arrested 23 people for “various offenses” and that they were showing a presence across London to ensure social distancing guidelines were being met during the protests.

In Canada, most of the protests were peaceful and took place in Vancouver and Montreal. However, things got a little out of hand and the crowds were dispersed after objects were thrown at police officers later that evening.

In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, crowds gathered to chant “I can’t breathe,” which Floyd said several times to the police while being pinned down on the street. Police dressed in riot gear broke up the crowd outside the state government palace.

In Auckland, New Zealand, approximately 4,000 people marched in protest. They demonstrated in front of the U.S. consulate, kneeling and holding banners with “I can’t breathe,” “Black Lives Matter,” and “The real virus is racism” written on them.

Protests were seen in over 50 countries and on every continent except Antarctica. Most were in Europe, but a few were scattered around South America, the Pacific, Asia, and Africa.

Asteroid Passes Nearby Earth

Six months into the year and 2020 seems more like something from the movies than actual life on Earth. From the fires in Australia, locusts in Africa, the Coronavirus pandemic, murder hornets, and now an asteroid flying by our planet, it makes one wonder what’s next on the docket for the rest of the year. At least, the asteroid was only considered a potential danger and passed by us at a safe distance over the weekend.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) named the space rock 163348 or 2002 NN4. It was labeled “a potentially hazardous asteroid” because of how close it was going to pass by the Earth, but that was still more than 3.1 million miles away, about 13 times further than the moon. At an estimated diameter of 1,870 feet (the size of six football fields), 2002 NN4 passed by Earth at 11:20 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, June 6.

When it comes to asteroids, this wasn’t a very large one. In August last year, another asteroid of about the same size also passed by us, and at the time experts called it moderately sized. There are numerous asteroids orbiting the sun. The largest one known is 21 miles long – 2002 NN4 was less than a mile long.

Although it isn’t too often that a large asteroid will break through the Earth’s atmosphere and hit the planet, it does happen every couple of hundred years. The most recent was in 2013 when a meteor that was only 55 feet in diameter managed to penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere above Russia. While the rock didn’t actually hit the planet, the blast from it still injured at least 100 people.

The 2002 NN4 is an Aten-class asteroid, which means it orbits around the sun and its path could bring it close to the Earth. Currently, there are around 1,679 Aten-class asteroids. The next time 2002 NN4 is expected to be so close to the Earth again is June 2029.

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