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Black Lives Matter Does So Much With A Bit

Black Lives Matter Does So Much With A Bit

When the mayor of Washington not too long ago painted "Black Lives Matter" on a road near the White House, it drew the ire of native civil rights activists working under the name.

Muriel Bowser had supposed the outsized yellow letters as a rebuke to President Donald Trump. But the small group of campaigners working under the BLM name in the nation’s capital joined with others to add a riposte targeted at the mayor and her police chief: "Defund the Police."

The exchange highlighted the dynamics of the decentralised protest movement that has swept the US since the killing of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, in what has been essentially the most significant civil unrest in the country for decades. 

Tens of thousands of people have marched under the Black Lives Matter banner, however they include a myriad of activist and neighborhood groups and native officials, all responding to a highly fragmented system of policing in a country with 18,000 different police departments.

The number of actual Black Lives Matter representatives at any specific protest will be fairly small. NeeNee Taylor, an organiser with the Washington chapter of Black Lives Matter, said her group was made up of "actually five black ladies and one black male".

"That’s what now we have that does this highly effective work," Ms Taylor said, adding that she hoped the momentum would last: "Don’t make it a moment. Make it a movement."

A broad coalition of antiracism activist teams emerged in the US since 2013 in response to a spate of killings of black Individuals that drew national consideration, including the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman, who was acquitted on murder charges.

Black Lives Matter was probably the most prominent, with largely autonomous branches throughout the US and overseas that usually worked with local people groups and different organisations. In 2014, activists together with BLM fashioned an umbrella group called the Movement for Black Lives.

After Floyd’s killing, these networks have provided a language of radical change, social media platforms for organising, and logistics for the protests. They liaise with volunteer medics, legal observers and scouts who be careful for hassle from the police, troublemakers in their ranks or far-right opponents.

The influence of BLM has its limits. Ms Taylor for instance, said her organisation opposed such widely used US protest tactics as "die-ins" — sit-ins that mimic prone our bodies — and the mantra: "Palms up, don’t shoot." To BLM, they're unduly submissive.

One other variable within the protests is the fragmented nature of US policing. Cities and different local authorities decide budgets, guidelines of conduct, and accountability for their departments. Though Floyd’s name has turn out to be known worldwide, activists in every corner of the US also carry the names of lesser-known victims for whom they seek justice. 

"Policing may be very local. It is either taking place on the state, or occurring on the town or county level," said Dominique Hazzard, an organiser in Washington with BYP100, a youth activist group that works alongsideside Black Lives Matter.

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