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The murder of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis Police officers sparked weeks of protests around the country. People flooded the streets of cities small and large to demand police accountability and reforms and to proclaim that Black lives matter now and always.
Despite declining coverage in mainstream media, the anti-racism protests continue across the U.S. and in cities around the world. Four weeks after Floyd’s death, police departments have experienced a reckoning, with lawmakers pushing policing reforms and officers being held accountable for their actions.
In Minneapolis, ex-officer Derek Chauvin was arrested and initially charged with third-degree murder in Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s charges were upgraded to second-degree murder on June 3. The three other officers involved were also arrested and charged with second-degree accessory to murder. One of the former officers, 37-year-old Thomas Lane was released on $750,000 bond, CNN reported.
Racist statues and monuments to the Confederacy and slavery have also been targeted. Around the world, these symbols of systemic racism have been torn down, decapitated and thrown in rivers.
Incredibly strides have been made in the four weeks since protests started, but work needs to continue. The Louisville officers responsible for Breonna Taylor’s death have not been arrested or charged in her murder. The North Star has highlighted a few of the accomplishments of the protests:
5-28: University of Minneapolis ends its contract with the Minneapolis Police Department.
5-28: ATU Local 1005 in Minneapolis refuses to transport police to protests or any protesters arrested by police.
5-29: Louisville Mayor Greg Fisher suspends no-knock warrants, a controversial practice that led Breonna Taylor to be murdered by police in her own home.
5-30: Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison takes over the George Floyd case.
5-30: TWU Local 100 bus operators refuse to transport protesters arrested by police in New York City.
5-31: Two Atlanta Police officers are fired after attacking local university students with tasers.
6-01: Minneapolis Public schools end its contract with Minneapolis Police Department.
6-01: Tulsa Mayor GT Bynum announces the city will not renew its contact with Live PD.
6-01: Louisville Police chief is fired after the fatal shooting of restaurant owner David McAtee by police.
6-02: ATU Local 85 refuses to transport police officers or arrested protesters in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
6-02: Six Atlanta Police officers, including the two who were fired on May 31, charged with using excessive force in the arrest of two college students.
6-02: The state of Minnesota launches civil rights investigation against the Minneapolis Police Department. The investigation will look into MPD’s policies, procedures and practices over the last 10 years.
6-02: San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin announces resolution that prevents law enforcement agencies from hiring officers with history of misconduct.
6-03: Denver Police Officer Thomas McClay was fired after posting a photo on Instagram of himself and two other officers in riot gear with the caption: “Let’s start a riot.”
6-03: Minneapolis Institute of Art, First Avenue and Walker Art Center cuts ties with Minneapolis Police Department for events.
6-03: Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney announces reforms for the city’s police department. Stoney implemented the Marcus Alert, which would make the police work with the Richmond Behavioral Health Authority on calls for people experiencing mental health crisis. He also committed to establishing a Citizen Review Board and removing Confederate monuments.
6-03: Fulton County, Georgia, kills a plan to spend $23 million to expand the county’s jail.
6-03: Los Angeles announces it will cut between $100-150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department and instead reinvest in the city’s community.
6-04: Portland Schools announces it will “discontinue” presence of armed officers at schools.
6-04: MBTA, the mass transit system in Boston, announces the city’s buses will not transport police to protests nor arrested protesters.
6-11: Louisville City County votes unanimously to ban no-knock warrants in the city.
6-12: Minneapolis City Council passes resolution to replace police department with community-led public safety system. It also voted to end the local emergency order that was declared due to protests.
6-12: New York officially banned chokeholds by law enforcement and repealed 50-a, which kept police disciplinary records a secret. New York City Council also identified $1 billion in cuts to the NYPD’s $6 billion budget. Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, rejected the budget proposal.
6-13: Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields resigns after two Atlanta Police officers shoot and kill Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s parking lot. Officer Garrett Rolfe, who shot Brooks, was fired and Davin Brosnan was placed on administrative duty. The death was ruled a homicide.
At the end of each story about the Black Lives Matter protests occurring around the country, we will share the following information on how best to protect yourself:
Protecting Yourself From Tear Gas
- Before being exposed: Do not wear contact lenses or makeup. This could trap the tear gas on your skin and eyes. Try to wear protective goggles if possible. Remember to wear a mask, which you should already be wearing to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Wear long sleeves and long pants to protect as much of your skin as possible.
- If exposed: Get yourself out of the area immediately. The CDC recommends seeking higher ground as most Riot Control Agents (RCAs) are heavier than air.
- Clothing: The RCAs will have contaminated your clothing, be sure to remove the clothes as soon as possible and discard. Clothing that needs to be removed over the head should be cut instead. The CDC recommends wearing rubber gloves and putting the contaminated clothes in a bag and then seal that bag in another bag.
- Exposed Skin: The International News Safety Institute recommends washing with soap and water. First, shower in cold water and then in warm water. Do not bathe. Wash your face as soon as you can, but do not rub the skin as you don’t want to activate the powder in tear gas. Do not rinse your eyes and face with milk, instead use water.
Protecting Yourself: Technology Edition
- Smartphone: Smartphones can easily give out information that police can later use against protesters. Turn off your location data and remove facial and fingerprint recognition. If you need to communicate with friends or family, be sure to download and use the Signal app, which encrypts messages. WIRED recommends Android users head to Settings, then Security and make sure the Encrypt Disk option is selected.
- Social Media: Do not post photos or videos with geotags and consider blurring the faces of protesters when sharing information on social media.
- Police Conduct App: The ACLU has created the Mobile Justice app to record police conduct. You can learn more about the app here.
- Identifying Clothing or Tattoos: It is highly recommended you wear clothing that is not easily identifiable. Be sure to cover any tattoos that can be used by law enforcement to identify you.
- In Case You’re Arrested: Write the number down of a lawyer, organization or friend/family member that you can call if you’re arrested on your skin. Be sure to have a form of ID in your pocket.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a senior writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Europe, Asia, Australia and the Americas.