Resources And Actions You Can Take To Support The George Floyd Protests
The death of George Floyd, which an independent medical examiner confirms was a result of white Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, has ignited a firestorm of outrage in cities across America. George Floyd’s murder was the latest in a string of police brutality and racially motivated killings to make their way into the headlines in recent weeks.
The death of Breonna Taylor, shot 8 times by Louisville police in her own home in March, had called into question the widespread use and abuse of no-knock warrants by police. Video of Ahmaud Arbery’s murder emerged in May, showing he was gunned down by two men in a pickup truck as he attempted to jog through a residential Georgia neighborhood.
While police brutality has been a constant source of racial strife in America, the brazen execution of a black man on camera in the middle of a Minneapolis street was the spark that set off a series of protests in cities nationwide. Many Americans however, unable to join the protests due to the ongoing pandemic, watched horrified from their living rooms this past weekend as police officers drove purposefully through crowds of peaceful protesters and heard the screams of thousands in the streets as they ran from rubber bullets and tear gas.
While it might appear as if we’ve fallen asleep and suddenly woken up in a police state, the forces that are driving this historic moment have been shaped by decades of inaction and a widespread lack of political engagement. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, as Barack Obama suggested, you’ve got plenty of avenues of involvement open to you.
Here are just a few ways you can help combat police brutality and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
If you can spare some cash right now, there are many ways to direct that money to bring about change. Not only are there funds set up for both George Floyd’s family and Ahmaud Arbery’s mother, but there are a plethora of organizations out there working hard to support protesters either through bail, legal, or medical funds.
Here are just a few that deserve your dollars:
- The Bail Project
- The National Bail Fund Network
- The NAACP Legal Defense Fund
- The Know Your Rights Camp
- Communities United Against Police Brutality
- Black Visions Collective
- Minnesota Freedom Fund
- Northstar Health Collective
New York City
See a comprehensive list of bail funds here.
Although it’s much appreciated, cash isn’t the only thing protesters need. Pick up supplies like groceries, diapers, first aid supplies, cleaning products, masks, hand sanitizer, or bottled water and find a donation site in your area. In many cities, public transportation is closed, cutting communities off from essential service and supplies. Check out Hunger Solutions and Women for Political Change to find drop-off sites specifically in Minneapolis.
One of the most powerful things you can do to support a movement is to show up. But be prepared to take direction from BLM leaders, who have asked that these protests continue to be peaceful. Wear a mask, bring hand sanitizer, plenty of water, and maintain as much social distance as possible.
If you do have symptoms of illness, stay home. Minority communities across the nation have been devastated by COVID-19 and while police brutality is an urgent and potentially fatal pandemic of its own, Black Lives Matter activists certainly don’t need to grapple with higher rates of exposure as a result of fighting for social justice.
Despite the best effort of peaceful protesters and those within the Black Lives Matter movement, looting has occurred and it’s affected minority-owned businesses already devastated by the pandemic. Volunteer your time to get out there and help them clean-up both the streets and storefronts of their communities. In Minneapolis, several organizations are spearheading clean-up efforts including the Free Hugs Project and Support the Cities. You can also help by donating shovels, trash bags, plywood, brooms, gloves, and other cleaning supplies.
Call, write, tweet, or show up. But whatever you do, don’t stop demanding that the police be held accountable. Ending police brutality should be a part of every politician’s policy platform, nationally and locally. What does good policing look like? Campaign Zero is a great place to start if you want to dig into research-based solutions for eliminating the use of excessive force and racial profiling. Or you can peruse the toolkit Obama recently released on how to create a New Era of Public Safety.
When it comes to accountability for George Floyd’s killers, there are several ways you can place pressure on Minneapolis officials. First and foremost, you can contact the Minneapolis mayor (612) 673-2100 and the Hennepin County attorney (612) 348-5550 and demand that the other officers involved in the incident be charged. You can also email the Minneapolis police department at [email protected].
An organization called Reclaim The Block has asked the Minneapolis city council to defund the police department and direct money towards community-led initiatives that can help the city better grapple with racial violence, mental health, and the ongoing COVID-19 and opioid crisis.
Educate Yourself And Others
If being a social media justice warrior is your thing, you can use that superpower for good. Speak out against racism but be careful to support and elevate writers, artists, and activists of color. If you’re new to racial issues, the most powerful thing you can do is educate yourself
Here are a few places to start:
- Anti-racism Resources for White People
- Anti-racism Reading Guide
- Prison Abolition Starter Guide
- 75 Things White People Can Do For Racial Justice
While it may be tempting to protect your children from the chaos and violence happening around them right now, it’s crucial that they know the protests have their roots in systemic oppression and racism. Use resources at The Conscious Kid or Teach and Transform to help your child understand how they can be part of the solution instead of perpetuating the problem.
Honor the Victims
Honor the victims by remembering and celebrating the lives of those we’ve lost to police brutality and racism. Just the act of saying their names humanizes their experiences and fosters compassions that can transcend political ideologies. Research, read, and share more about the victims behind the headlines as part of the #SayTheirName campaign. You can also get past statistics and read the stories of unarmed victims of police brutality at Mapping Police Violence.
Share With Care
It’s tempting to let the outrage loose on social media platforms, but think carefully before you share and vet your sources. As the protests have continued, disinformation campaigns both on Facebook and Twitter and are seeking to exploit racial divisions in this country.
It’s also worthwhile to think about how the images you share of violence against minorities can further traumatize those communities and endanger the protesters. That same footage can be weaponized by law enforcement and used to identify and target activists. For example reports surfaced that Twitter surveillance tools were used to arrest activists in Baltimore in 2016 and charge them with a domestic terrorism category called “black-identity extremism.” Other activists from Ferguson are also suspected to have been profiled and targeted by white supremacist groups.
While signing petitions sometimes gets a bad rap as slacktivism, petitions can bring about change. Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but action against the other officers involved in his death has been slow and tentative. Consider signing petitions from Change.org and Color of Change to pressure the Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman to bring charges against the other officers involved in George Floyd’s death.Looking to make a difference? Consider signing one of these sponsored petitions:
Use Your Wallet Wisely And Support Black Businesses
Money talks, so use your wallet to support companies that are speaking out against racial injustice. In addition to content, music, and art creators that are going black in honor of #BlackoutTuesday, look for other corporations like Netflix that are leveraging their platforms to support protesters.
And last but not least, support black businesses that have been hard hit by the riots. There are tons of lists out there, so stay local and look for resources in your area. Here are a few places to start:
- Black-Owned Restaurants and Businesses You Can Support
- 140+ Black Owned Business You Can Support in Denver
- Black-Owned Businesses You Can Support Today
- 27 Black-Owned Brands to Support Today And Every Day
- List of more than 85 Black-Owned Food Businesses in LA
- How to Support Black Businesses in Nashville
You can also hit up this national database, Support Black Owned, to see if there are results near you.
Whatever you choose to do today to support racial justice and the struggle against police brutality, remember that once the streets are clean and the chaos calms, we’ll still need you to continue to speak out and fight. Injustice and oppression doesn’t end when the cameras turn off and the headlines disappear.
One of the most powerful things you can do to bring about lasting change is quite simple. VOTE. Every election. Police chiefs, county sheriffs, mayors, and local law enforcement are usually elected positions and you have the power to make sure those officials support racial justice. As Barack Obama reminds us,
“So the bottom line is this: if we want to bring about real change, then the choice isn’t between protest and politics. We have to do both. We have to mobilize to raise awareness, and we have to organize and cast our ballots to make sure that we elect candidates who will act on reform.”