What We're Reading About The Past Week Of Protests
If you've been trying to keep up with news about the nationwide protests against police brutality, the stream of stories can be overwhelming. In the days following George Floyd's homicide at the hands of Minneapolis police, reporters have been covering the protests inmore than 140 cities across the country, trying to make sense of this tumultuous moment.
Here are some of the most illuminating stories that we've read this week to help us understand how we got here, and the larger issues driving the protests.
Minneapolis in context
This is hardly the first time that Minneapolis has erupted into protests about police brutality and the killings of black people. In 2016, people took to the streets after police shot and killed Philando Castile during a traffic stop in a nearby suburb, Falcon Heights. And in 2015, Minneapolis police shot and killed Jamar Clark, which ignited two weeks of protests.
In The Boston Review, Elizabeth Stinton relates the current protests in Minneapolis to the ones that followed the deaths of Clark and Castile. She also looks at the nationwide unrest that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968. Similar to the uprisings that took place over half a century ago, she writes, Minneapolis residents are fed up with the "buildup of unanswered grievances and the lack of concrete changes to their immediate living conditions."
Over atSlate, Joel Anderson writes that while many police chiefs are condemning the excessive use of force by the police officer who killed Floyd, it's important to pay attention to what police are doing during protests:
Many protesters, including journalists, have captured police on tape pointing guns, shooting rubber bullets and tear gas at them. Michael Dessam compiled a list atSlate of the ways police incited violence: "Police all over the country tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with nonlethal rounds on journalists or people on their own property, and in at least one instance, pushed over an elderly man who was walking away with a cane."
Existing while black
The COVID-19 pandemic is still raging during the protests, and as we've reported, black people are dying from the virus at disproportionate rates. And as Annelisa Merelli at Quartz writes, police brutality is also a public health crisis that affects black people at a much higher rate than others:
Many argue that these two crises for the black community—police brutality and the coronavirus—aren't independent of each other. In fact, in both cases the extent of the death toll stems from systematic discrimination, and in both cases, the solution may require a deep rethinking of the overall system.
In The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi examines a 1896 document by a statistician that says black people were naturally selected for disease and death, and would gradually become extinct. Kendi goes on to write that "too many Americans have been waiting for black extinction since Hoffman," and that black Americans are "living in a nightmare" rather than the elusive American Dream:
Stories of solidarity
Our NPR colleague Leila Fadel wrote abouta Somali immigrant, Safia Munye, who opened a restaurant in Minneapolis more than two years ago—only to close her doors due to COVID-19. However, the community rallied behind her business and raised more than $180,000 to re-open this weekend—that is, until it was burned down during the protests. But despite her loss, Munye says she wants justice for George Floyd and change for Minneapolis.
And The New York Times brought us another story about resilience and solidarity, about a Bangaldeshi family in Minneapolis who also lost their restaurant after it was burned down during one of the protests. Yet they support the uprising, and even opened the restaurant's doors as a medical haven for protesters.
To find more of the stories we're following right now, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to receive this week's edition about the protests unfolding across the nation.
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