The #BlackLivesMatter movement has been active across the United States, protesting the deaths of African American women and men at the hands of law enforcement. While most are familiar with the hashtag or the protests, there’s probably some confusion around this movement. Here’s 5 things you should know about #BlackLivesMatter.
- Began on social media: The #BlackLivesMatter movement started as a hashtag on social media in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin. As the hashtag gained momentum, so did demonstrations and protests that occurred in response to other deaths, like Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO, and Eric Garner in New York City.
- Working against police brutality: The main focus of the #BlackLivesMatter movement is to fight police brutality against African Americans in the U.S. But, according to their website, #BlackLivesMatter is also focused on resisting “all of the ways in which Black people are intentionally left powerless at the hands of the state,” including poverty and mass incarceration.
- Worldwide movement: While most of the #BlackLivesMatter chapters are in the U.S., there is also one in Canada (Toronto) and one in Ghana. #BlackLivesMatter demonstrations have been held all over the world.
- Not affiliated with a political party: On August 9, 2015, #BlackLivesMatter sent out a press release that said they do not endorse any presidential candidate in the 2016 election. Further, they also made it clear that they are not affiliated with any political party. They work for “ideological and political intervention,” trying to hold the political world accountable.
- Reforming police departments: Although the movement does not promote the importance of policing, they are not trying to abolish police departments. Rather, they are trying to reform them because there is overwhelming evidence that the black community is disproportionately victimized by the police system.
Whether or not you agree with everything the #BlackLivesMatter movement does or claims, it is important to educate yourself about this significant grassroots movement happening in the U.S. and around the world. Check out their website here.