One year after the killing of George Floyd we are now seeing justice play its role. Banned chokeholds, the use of tear gas, a 5 billion dollar police budget, and social media activism is a portion of changes made.
Former police officer Derek Chauvin forcefully held Floyd down by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 30 seconds, suffocating him. Floyd was being arrested on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
Chauvin was eventually found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
At the start of the US protests in May 2020, Black activists created “defund the police,” a slogan that refers to decreasing funds to law enforcement and funding new non-policing forms of public safety, community reinforcement, youth services and housing.
In response to Floyd’s death, Minneapolis law enforcement services are now equipped with response teams with training in de-escalation techniques trained to communicate with people and assess if they are a danger to themselves or community, have a mental illness, or are under the influence of a substance. Medical technicians, and social workers are also a part of the response teams.
Shortly after these changes, Minneapolis saw a 250% increase in gunshot victims, a 22% increase in robberies, and a 59% increase in rape victims. Police are doing their best to reassure public safety. “Everybody has a responsibility to call police, to get to know your neighbors and to talk to the kid next door,” said Don Samuels.
Following the policing changes of Minneapolis and the 2020 protests, states across the country made changes to their police force. California, Minnesota, Philadelphia, Washington, New York, Texas, and Florida all banned neck restraints, the use of tear gas on citizens, shooting at moving vehicles, and restricted plain clothes police officers (undercover or off duty police).
Denver, Seattle, Connecticut, and Houston all passed bills requiring officers to have their body cameras turned on and recording at all times. Some states have been making minor changes such as requiring officers to use de-escalation tactics, and warn the suspect before they shoot. Others have brainstormed ideas to apprehend suspects without the use of deadly weapons and limit the use of force when tackling or holding a suspect down.
Minneapolis dropped $8 million from their $179 million law enforcement budget while Los Angeles pledged to cut $150 million from their $5.8 billion budget. California’s governor banned neck holds and will no longer teach them in police academy training. U.S democrats proposed legislation to require all federal officers to wear body cameras and two states—Nevada and South Carolina—require all law enforcement to wear body cameras.
In light of George Floyd’s death, citizens want changes and awareness brought to police brutality and injustice. People immediately turned to social media to express their views and it has paved a way for more people to speak up about social justice issues, and expose corruption in our society’s justice system. Without this awareness, many police brutalities, and mistreatment towards people of colour wouldn’t have been heard. Social media gives the public a place to voice their opinion and make change.
Even old cases like Breonna Taylor’s were brought back up after Floyd’s death. Taylor was gunned down by Louisville police officers in March 2020 and the public was outraged. People began posting on their platforms trying to gain attention. Hashtags like #justiceforbrianna and #sayhername were trending for weeks. A petition was created and gained more than 5 million signatures in 5 days. In the past year nearly half of Americans were civilly active on their social media platforms. Getting the attention of politicians on social media creates movements that result in justice for all.
While there are still many injustices that mirror George Floyd’s, the global society has taken a new step forward: more discussions are being held and police violence are challenged globally. It is only a matter of time before such tragedies become past memories.