Black Lives Matter

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{Use mdy dates|date=June 2015}}

Protestors carrying placards at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in New York City in November 2014

Black Lives Matter is an American movement that started after the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of African-American teen Trayvon Martin. It received fresh impetus from the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an African-American teen. The movement has received worldwide media attention.

The movement was co-founded by three black activists: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi.[1][2]

The shooting of Walter Scott by a white policeman was recorded by bystander Feidin Santana, who contacted a local activist involved with Black Lives Matter; they, in turn, contacted Scott's family to take possession of the video. This led to the police officer's arrest.[3]

It should be noted that the #Blacklivesmatter hashtag is only used when the perceived crime is white on black. Although the numbers of black on black crime is higher, the hashtag isn't used to protest black on black violence. According to the 2010 National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) under the US Department of Justice (DOJ), 62,593 blacks were the victim of white on black violence, while 320,082 whites were victims of black on white violence.

Description and events

Photo from march on April 29 in New York City

The #BlackLivesMatter movement began as a hashtag after George Zimmerman's 2013 acquittal for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, and gained momentum after the shooting of Michael Brown, the shooting of John Crawford III, and the death of Eric Garner, all in 2014. Currently, there are 23 Black Lives Matter chapters in the U.S., Canada, and Ghana.[4] The organization states that Black Lives Matter is "a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of black people by police and vigilantes" and that "Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all black lives along the gender spectrum."[5] The movement has received worldwide media attention due to its massive scope and ongoing existence. Protesters and protest organizers have met with U.S. President Barack Obama and other prominent leaders to demand an end to what they view as racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration of African-Americans, and the militarization of many U.S. police departments.

Sean Bell Protest

As of March 2, 2015, at least 700 Black Lives Matter demonstrations have been held worldwide.[6] In August 2014, during Labor Day weekend, #BlackLivesMatter organized a 'Freedom Ride' that brought more than 500 black people from across the nation into Ferguson, Missouri, to support the work being done on the ground by local organizations.[7] #BlackLivesMatter members and supporters rode in from New York City, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Miami, Detroit, Houston, Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Nashville, Portland, Tucson, Washington, D.C., and more, in a similar way to that of the Freedom Riders in the 1960s.[8] In December 2014, at least 20 members of a protest that had been using the slogan were arrested at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.[9]

The "informal branch of Black Lives Matter in Ferguson" has been involved in the Ferguson unrest, following the death of Michael Brown.[10]

Black Lives Matter organizers supported the April 15, 2015, fast food strike in asserting economic injustice as a major oppression against self-identifying African Americans.[11][12][13]


The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag was created by Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors right after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Trayvon Martin trial.[14] The hashtag was first used by Patrisse Cullors in response to a Facebook post by Alicia Garza that used the phrase.[14] The American Dialect Society chose the hashtag form of the phrase as their word of the year for 2014.[15][16]

BlackLivesMatter appeared in an episode of Law & Order: SVU.[14][17] The TV drama Scandal expressed support to the Black Lives Matter movement on their March 5, 2015 episode that showed an unarmed black teen shot by a police officer.[18]

Vida Johnson and other black professors support the movement.[19]

Founder Alicia Garza has denounced certain corporate and mainstream appropriations and adaptations of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and slogan which she believes ignore or contradict the spirit and philosophy behind it, including the "Our Lives Matter" iteration. She has written: "#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean your life isn’t important–it means that black lives, which are seen as without value within white supremacy, are important to your liberation".[17] In a video interview with Laura Flanders, Garza discussed how "changing Black Lives Matter to All Lives Matter is a demonstration of how we don't actually understand structural racism in this country". She went on to discuss how other lives are valued more than black lives, which she strongly feels is wrong, and to take blackness out of this equation is inappropriate.[20] In a Twitter post, Black Lives Matter said, "If you really believe that all lives matter, you will fight like hell for Black lives."[21]

A group of Asian-Americans has created the hashtag #Asians4BlackLives in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter and specifically to confront anti-blackness in some Asian-American communities.[22]


Photo from march on April 29, 2015, in NYC for #BlackLivesMatter

Founder Alicia Garza has summed up the philosophy behind Black Lives Matter as follows:

When we say Black Lives Matter, we are talking about the ways in which black people are deprived of our basic human rights and dignity. It is an acknowledgement black poverty and genocide is state violence. It is an acknowledgment that 1 million black people are locked in cages in this country—one half of all people in prisons or jails—is an act of state violence. It is an acknowledgment that black women continue to bear the burden of a relentless assault on our children and our families and that assault is an act of state violence. Black queer and trans folks bearing a unique burden in a hetero-patriarchal society that disposes of us like garbage and simultaneously fetishizes us and profits off of us is state violence; the fact that 500,000 black people in the US are undocumented immigrants and relegated to the shadows is state violence; the fact that black girls are used as negotiating chips during times of conflict and war is state violence; black folks living with disabilities and different abilities bear the burden of state-sponsored Darwinian experiments that attempt to squeeze us into boxes of normality defined by white supremacy is state violence. And the fact is that the lives of black people—not ALL people—exist within these conditions is consequence of state violence.[17]

List of deaths protested by Black Lives Matter

Link Date Name (Age) of deceased City, State Description and aftermath
[23][24] January 1, 2009 Oscar Grant III (22) Oakland, California Shot by BART Police officer Johannes Mehserle. Initially Grant had struggled with officers, but was shot while being restrained and unarmed.[25] The officers were responding to a call of a fight on a train.[26] Mehserle, who maintained that he accidentally used his handgun when he meant to use his Taser, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and received a sentence of two years in jail.[27]
[28][29] May 16, 2010 Aiyana Jones (7) Detroit, Michigan Shot by policeman Joseph Weekley during a house raid. Weekley was ultimately cleared of all charges after multiple mistrials.[30]
[31][32] November 19, 2011 Kenneth Chamberlain, Sr. (68) White Plains, New York Shot by policeman Anthony Carelli in Chamberlain's home. No criminal charges filed. Emergency services were drawn to Chamberlain's home after his medical alert device activated. Chamberlain refused to let them in, with police breaking down the door to enter.[33]
[34][24][35] February 26, 2012 Trayvon Martin (17) Sanford, Florida Trayvon Martin was shot outdoors by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman, who was later charged and acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter.[36]
Resulted in the speech "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago" by President Barack Obama.
Directly inspired the beginning of the Black Lives Matter movement.[37]
[38][29] March 2012 Rekia Boyd (22) Chicago, Illinois Shot by policeman Dante Servin after Servin confronted a group of people in a local park. A directed verdict found Servin not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.[39]
[31][35] November 23, 2012 Jordan Davis (17) Jacksonville, Florida Shot by software developer Michael David Dunn over an argument over loud music. Dunn was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole.[40]
[31][41] November 29, 2012 Multiple:
Timothy Russell (43)
Malissa Williams (30)
Cleveland, Ohio Both were shot during a car chase, each being hit more than 20 times. 13 policemen fired 137 shots into the car; the car chase stemmed from police thinking they were being shot at by the car's occupants, but no gun was found in the car and the sound was later determined to be due to the back-fire of the Chevrolet Malibu. Policeman Michael Brelo was charged with voluntary manslaughter, but was cleared in 2014. The judge found that because other policemen had also fired, it was not beyond reasonable doubt Brelo was responsible for killing the duo.[42][43]
[44][45] November 2, 2013 Renisha McBride (19) Dearborn Heights, Michigan Shot by airport maintenance worker Theodore Wafer, after McBride had approached Wafer's home on a rainy early morning after a car accident, seeking help. Wafer was sentenced to at least 17 years in jail for second-degree murder, manslaughter and felony firearm usage.[46]
[47][48] April 30, 2014 Dontre Hamilton (31) Milwaukee, Wisconsin Shot by policeman Christopher Manney, when a fight broke out when Manney attempted to frisk Hamilton. Although he did not face criminal charges, Manney was fired from the police.[49]
[50][24][51] April 30, 2014 Eric Garner (43) New York City, New York Died from a chokehold by policeman Daniel Pantaleo as well as the police's compression of Garner's chest. Garner was being arrested on the suspicion of selling untaxed cigarettes.[52]
[53][54] August 5, 2014 John Crawford III (22) Dayton, Ohio Shot by policeman Sean Williams when police answered a 911 call alleging a man waving a gun in a Walmart store. Crawford was holding a pellet/BB gun being sold in the store itself. A grand jury declined to indict any policemen, but the United States Department of Justice is investigating.[55]
[56][24][51] August 5, 2014 Michael Brown (18) Ferguson, Missouri Shot by policeman Darren Wilson on a street. After Brown robbed a convenience store, he was confronted by Officer Wilson. The two struggled through the window of Wilson's police vehicle, where Wilson shot Brown, who fled with Wilson pursuing. When Brown turned around and advanced on Wilson, Wilson shot Brown multiple times in the front. Both a St. Louis County grand jury and the United States Department of Justice decided not to charge Wilson.[57]
Resulted in several waves of the Ferguson unrest, as well as the "Hands up, don't shoot" saying.
[58][59] August 11, 2014 Ezell Ford (25) Florence, Los Angeles Shot by policemen Sharlton Wampler and Antonio Villegas, who confronted Ford as part of an "investigative stop".[60]
[61][62] November 20, 2014 Akai Gurley (28) Brooklyn, New York City Shot by policeman Peter Liang, who drew his gun and accidentally discharged it. A round ricocheted and hit Gurley, who was elsewhere on the same stairwell as Liang. Liang was indicted by a grand jury on manslaughter, assault, and other criminal charges.[63]
[50][24][51] November 22, 2014 Tamir Rice (12) Cleveland, Ohio Shot in a city park by policeman Timothy Loehmann.[64] Rice had been pointing his air-soft pellet gun at passersby prior to getting shot. A grand jury will decide whether either Loehmann or his partner Garmback will be indicted.
[65][66] March 6, 2015 Tony Robinson (19) Madison, Wisconsin Shot by policeman Matt Kenny during an altercation as Kenny was responding to reports of a man jumping in front of cars and attempting to strangle someone. The Wisconsin Department of Justice will investigate the Robinson shooting.[67]
[68][69] March 28, 2015 Meagan Hockaday (26) Oxnard, California
[70][51] April 4, 2015 Walter Scott (50) North Charleston, South Carolina Shot by police officer Michael Slager during a traffic stop. Slager was charged with murder after a video surfaced showing him shooting Scott multiple times from behind while Scott was fleeing.[71]
[72][24][73] April 12, 2015 Freddie Gray (25) Baltimore, Maryland Fell into a coma while being transported by police after they arrested him. Gray died a week later of injuries to his spinal cord. Charges have been filed against 6 policemen after a medical examiner’s report that ruled Gray's death a homicide.[74]
Resulted in the 2015 Baltimore riots and 2015 Baltimore curfew.
[75][76] June 17, 2015 Emanuel Nine (multiple) Charleston, South Carolina A mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church resulted in nine dead and one injured.[77]
[78] July 13, 2015 Sandra Bland (28) Waller County, Texas A woman was pulled over by police, arrested, and found dead in her jail cell. Her death was ruled a suicide by the county medical examiner, with no evidence of foul play.[79]

See also


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External links