It’s Just the Beginning: What the Current Black Lives Matter Protests Have Changed

After police officers killed George Floyd on the streets of Minneapolis, protests emerged across the country—and around the world—to demand justice for Floyd and an end to police brutality. They continued even after many states enacted curfews and police used tear gas and rubber bullets against protestors. More than 10,000 protestors have been arrested, but the rallies have yet to stop as demonstrators put pressure on officials to enact sweeping change and eliminate policies and systems that constantly compromise the safety of Black people.

Because of these protests, the four officers involved in Floyd’s death were charged, and below, you’ll find a handful of other actions that have taken place as a direct result of longtime activists and current protests.

This is not an absolution: In many of the places listed here, police have been violent toward peaceful protestors, and these actions only scratch the surface in terms of the revolutionary change that must occur. But it’s a start. Now we keep going.

Minneapolis City Council members announced a commitment to disband the Minneapolis Police Department.

On June 7th, a “veto-proof majority” of the Minneapolis City Council announced their intention to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department and rethink how the city handles emergency response and public safety, according to The Appeal. Minneapolis City Council President Lisa Bender said, “We are here because here in Minneapolis and in cities across the United States it is clear that our existing system of policing and public safety is not keeping our communities safe. Our efforts at incremental reform have failed.” She continued, “Our commitment is to end our city’s toxic relationship with the Minneapolis Police Department, to end policing as we know it, and to recreate systems of public safety that actually keep us safe.”

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to cut funding to the New York Police Department.

On June 7th, de Blasio announced a set of reforms, including moving funding from the NYPD to youth and social services. According to the New York Times, de Blasio did not say how much funding he would cut from the department’s $6 billion annual budget but that it would be decided with the City Council before the budget deadline on July 1st.

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A few days prior, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer sent a letter to de Blasio that called on New York City to cut $1.1 billion from the NYPD over the next four fiscal years and redirect that money toward “vulnerable communities most impacted by police violence and structural racism.”

de Blasio also announced his support for reforming the state law known as Section 50-a, which makes police disciplinary records confidential. Prior to de Blasio’s announcement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also announced he would support repealing the provision. This week, New York lawmakers started to approve a package of police reform bills, including the repeal of 50-a and banning chokeholds under legislation titled the “Eric Garner Anti-Chokehold Act.”

Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.

The Star Tribune has reported that multiple organizations, including museums and venues, have announced they will “limit or end” collaborations with the MPD following Floyd’s death. The Minneapolis Public Schools school board voted unanimously to end its contract with the MPD, and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board voted to end its relationship with the MPD and voted to create a new uniform for the Park Board’s police force in order to distinguish themselves from the MPD.

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The University of Minnesota also announced it would cease contracting with the MPD for support at large campus events and “specialized services.” The change came after University of Minnesota’s first African-American student body president, Jael Kerandi, sent a letter to the university president calling for the school to cut ties.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and city officials announced plans to cut millions from the Los Angeles Police Department budget.

On June 3rd, Garcetti announced that there would be $250 million in cuts to the proposed budget in order to “[reinvest] in black communities and communities of color,” with $100 million-$150 million of those cuts coming from the LAPD budget. Previously, Garcetti had proposed a 7% increase in LAPD’s budget. According to the Los Angeles Times, the cuts would be reallocated toward “youth jobs, health initiatives and ‘peace centers’ to heal trauma, and will allow those who have suffered discrimination to collect damages.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom also ordered state police to stop training that teaches officers how to “use a hold that can block the flow of blood to the brain,” otherwise known as carotid holds.

Louisville’s Metro Council will vote on “Breonna’s Law,” named in honor of Breonna Taylor, which would limit the use of no-knock warrants.

This March, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her own home by Louisville police after they used a “no-knock” search warrant to enter her apartment. As protestors demand justice for Taylor’s death, the Louisville Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee approved an ordinance called “Breonna’s Law,” which would make it so no-knock warrants could only be sought if there’s “imminent threat of harm or death” and would be limited to “offenses including murder, hostage-taking, kidnapping, terrorism, human trafficking and sexual trafficking,” according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. On June 11th, the full Metro Council will vote on the legislation.

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Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has also announced that no-knock warrants have been temporarily suspended, a new police chief will be named, body cameras will now be required while executing a search warrant, and there will be a new civilian review board for “police disciplinary matters,” according to the New York Times.

Philadelphia removed a statue of its former police commissioner, while several southern Confederate statues and monuments were torn down.

The city of Philadelphia removed a statue of its racist former police commissioner Frank Rizzo after protestors attempted to light it on fire and take it down using a rope. (The statue was originally scheduled to be removed next year. ) According to the New York Times, Rizzo became police commissioner in 1967 and then served two terms as mayor, once urging people to “vote white.” The Times reports that while police commissioner, Rizzo “rounded up gay people late at night and forced members of the Black Panthers to strip down in the streets.” He also vowed to show members of MOVE, a radical black liberation group in West Philadelphia, “more firepower than they’ve ever seen,” after they didn’t heed an eviction order.

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Several Confederate statues and monuments have also been removed or toppled, including a monument to Confederate troops and a statue of a Confederate officer in Birmingham, Alabama; a statue commemorating Confederate soldiers in Alexandria, Virginia; and a statue of a Confederate general in Richmond, Virginia. There are also now plans for the state of Virginia to remove a Richmond statue honoring Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. And across the pond, protestors in England toppled a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston into the Bristol Harbor.

Bus drivers across the country are refusing to drive police officers to protests or transport protestors who get arrested.

In Massachusetts, the MBTA announced it would not be shuttling local police force to public demonstrations, according to the Boston Globe. Similarly, union bus drivers in New York City, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh have refused to transport police or drive arrested protestors.

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