Injustice into action: What to do when the protests end


Sam Pote

After the death of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020, many Americans took to the streets to protest the injustice African Americans face at the hands of police. Protests took place around the country, including Richmond, from large scale marches to smaller acts of civil disobedience such as sit-ins and “blacking out” social media. While most of these protests remained peaceful, some resulted in more acts of violence, often instigated by some of the police officers responding to the gatherings. 

One notable violent event that took place during a Black Lives Matter protest was in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a young man named Kyle Rittenhouse shot three protestors, killing two and injuring the third. Rittenhouse then walked past police officers on duty at the protest, as shown in videos recorded by protesters, and traveled back to his home state of Illinois before being arrested. This sparked more turmoil in the movement, with many claiming that the police wouldn’t have been so late in making the arrest if Rittenhouse was not white. There is also evidence of Kenosha police working alongside white supremacist groups and armed militias in the area. 

Although Black Lives Matter protestors stand in unison against police brutality, it doesn’t stop there. 

   “I chose to protest because I recognize the need for societal change,” one senior Deep Run student, who asked to remain anonymous, said. “I wanted to protest to push for change and help the voices of the people be heard.” 

   Others want a more drastic change, calling for a complete restructure of the police system in our country. Many think a transition from state-funded, large-scale policing to a smaller, community-based system with a focus on de-escalation training and mental health crisis workers would increase trust in police and decrease the amount of unnecessary deaths in our country. This idea is colloquially referred to as “Defunding the Police,” and would allow more funds to be put towards things such as education, healthcare, and urban development. However, this “Defund the Police” movement is opposed by many, including President Donald Trump, who claims that it is the protestors that are being unethical instead of the police.  

   President Trump has often relied on the National Guard to control crowds at protests and crack down on people who choose to participate in them. In New York and other cities, there have been reports of unmarked vans forcefully arresting people who have been identified as protestors. This has fueled the fire of many protests, giving protestors more determination to push for change in our justice system. 

   “[Protests] inspire people to do their part within their community, work, and school environment[…]but [protests] are usually not totally effective by themselves,” another senior Deep Run student, who asked to remain anonymous, said. Protests must be accompanied by effective action such as voting to be truly effective in making change. 

   If you are old enough and able to, get registered and vote. Even though the presidential election is over, important positions like the governor and the House of Delegates are up for election in 2021. These positions greatly impact our local community, so it is important to vote for the candidate you think will make positive change.  Vote with your goals for an equal future in mind. Vote on behalf of people who no longer can. Vote on behalf of the numerous victims of police brutality, the names of which would take pages to list. Vote so that one day no one has to be scared of a police officer or scared to wear a hoodie.