Here’s What You Can Do to Demand Justice for Black Lives Right Now

Shannon Barbour
·10-min read

It’s been almost a year since George Floyd was killed after Minneapolis police officers pinned him to the ground and Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for at least eight minutes. These actions were caught on tape and shared widely, igniting protests against racism and police brutality across the globe in the summer of 2020. The jury in the trail against Chauvin delivered a guilty verdict Tuesday on the three charges against him. (Chauvin was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.) The judge previously refused a defense request to sequester this jury after police shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright at a traffic stop nearby in Minneapolis on Sunday. New protests demanding justice for Wright are now taking place in Minnesota as police chief Tim Gannon told reporters Wright's murder was "accidental."

Both Floyd and Wright's deaths are among additional acts of police brutality against Black people, including the killings of Jacob Blake, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Elijah McClain, all of whom were honored during last summer’s protests.

If you feel helpless, confused, angry, or fired up, there are actions you can take right now to demand justice. Here’s how you can help:

Contact Government Officials

Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, was just found guilty of the murder of George Floyd. The three other cops—Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng—are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. Kueng and Lane are currently out on bail. Call Mayor Frey at 612-673-2100 or email him at CitizenInfo@Hennepin.us to let him know you demand justice and that these officers continue to be held accountable.

And don’t forget to contact Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman at 612-348-5550 to demand all the officers involved in Floyd’s murder are held accountable by the law. The ACLU even pre-wrote scripts you can use so you don’t have to worry about what to say, and the NAACP made this easy form to contact your congressional officials to advocate for criminal justice reform.

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Sign a Petition

Donate, Donate, Donate

So many of the organizations that are dedicated to helping save and advocate for Black lives are in need of additional funds, as are the families involved. And many protestors end up being held on bail, so donating to a bail fund helps combat mass incarceration as well as racial and economic disparities. Consider donating to the following:

Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images

Read Up on the Issues

Teen Vogue and Elle compiled useful guides on anti-racism reads and how you can use your voice and privilege to fight for a better America. Also, check out Campaign Zero’s 10-step plan of action for ending police brutality and eight policies that can decrease police violence by 72 percent. Within the #8CantWait page, you can search your city and see if it has enacted any of the eight policies. If your city isn’t doing enough, the website automatically gives you the contact information for your mayor. (Note: While Campaign Zero does have some useful resources, many have criticized the organization and this initiative for its data analysis and lack of transparency, so please think critically and read through materials.)

Be Cautious About What You Share Online

As many have pointed out, avoid sharing images of protestors who can later be found and targeted. Also, consider how sharing violent images of Black people being killed takes a mental and emotional toll on those who see them, especially without warning. You do not have to share a graphic video of a Black person being killed to demand justice and speak out against racism.

Photo credit: Star Tribune via Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Star Tribune via Getty Images - Getty Images

Protest Wisely

As people take to the streets to protest, it’s so important to know that if you’re an ally, your responsibility is to amplify the voices of Black people, make sure they’re not being mistreated by the police, and not incite violence or create a path of destruction. It’s totally understandable that people are upset and angry and have gone this direction—not telling anyone how to feel here!—but please keep in mind that it is Black people who will be accused and face the repercussions of looting and destroying cities during these protests even if they’re not the ones doing it.

Photo credit: Hannah Peters - Getty Images
Photo credit: Hannah Peters - Getty Images

If you can’t make it out to a protest, you can still participate virtually. Although the date for the virtual protest has passed, you’re still encouraged to contact Kentucky officials and go through this list of demands that Loralei HoJay, the creator of the Change.org petition for Breonna Taylor, thoughtfully wrote out for everyone:

Vote

Sometimes it feels like voting won’t change anything, but it’s vital that we all continue to exercise our right to vote. After all, positions like the attorney general in Kentucky are elected ones. Your vote matters, so use it. Check out this guide for all the information you need to register to vote.

Check in With Your Black Friends

Take time to check in with your Black friends, coworkers, and classmates who are struggling and still trying to go about their daily lives right now. A little goes a long way, but be sure to consider your relationship with them—and ask yourself, Would my friend expect to hear this from me specifically?—before reaching out. Only reach out in a way that doesn’t put any additional burden on them.

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