The civil rights movement in America labelled “Black Lives Matter”, which erupted after the murder of George Floyd by a uniformed officer has been going in full swing. The event of Floyd’s death triggered a mass reaction against the state violence in which black people are abused without any accountability on the police’s part. A few of the protests have been demanding the defunding of the police department, that the police force should be dissolved.
Many protests are peaceful protests, but there have been instances in which the protestors use violence to express their sentiment. Such protests have received a lot of backlash; Donald Trump, the president, said that “these THUGS are dishonouring the memory of George Floyd” and that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. He also mentioned that he would send the National Guard to “get the job done right”, in context of his perceived lack of leadership in Minneapolis where Floyd was killed, and consequently, where the protests were taking place. The tweet with the slogan “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” has since been censored by twitter, which gave birth to another controversy.
Trump also blames the riots on Antifa, which is a terrorist organisation according to him, the name of which stands as a short form of anti-fascist. The organisation is a group of leftist activists who protest against an expression of what they find xenophobic, racist or sexist and fascist, claiming that such expression would suppress minority voices. There is no defined hierarchy or membership process, though it has been claimed by the group that it is secretive and is organised into autonomous local cells. In some reports, though, it is categorised as a far left militant organisation which believes in direct action rather than peaceful protests.
The police force in Minnesota believes that there are white supremacists attending the protests to agitate the protests and incite chaos. The Brookings Institution characterized the same as accelerationism, in which people incite chaos to destroy social order, so that in a highly polarized society, people would take their side. In the same vein, it has been reported that a white supremacist channel on Telegram incited followers to engage in violence and start a second civil war by shooting into the crowd. Franklin Graham, an evangelical pastor, has said that the idea of dismantling the police departments “has to be one of the most irresponsible ideas” that he’s ever heard. He says that the police are what stand between “us (the citizens) and total anarchy”.
An UK Member of Parliament told one of his constituents that while racism is a cancer, and I am glad the perpetrator is on a murder charge. Nevertheless, looters, arsonists and rioters have it coming.” While a number of celebrities have been showing support for the Black Lives Matter protests, the former Miss Universe Malaysia Samantha Katie James used instagram stories to say that the protesters who are angry over the murder of George Floyd are “foolish humans”, and that the black people chose to be born as colored people in America. She also said that the brutality should be taken as a challenge and that “the whites have won”. When asked to clarify what she meant by saying that the Black community chose to be born as coloured, she said that their soul chose where and how they were born.
The people are responding in many different ways to the news. On a Brietbart report on Samuel L. Jackson expressing his views in support of the protests, there have been comments which say that “Floyd was a criminal and he was high on drugs and that he was not killed by asphyxiation he had a heart condition.”(sic) or “When da White people start rioting? We are still the majority, and it would really stir up the fudge. These a****ts think they are getting away with something, but only because the silent majority has yet to speak… and act.” (sic).
It seems that George Floyd’s unfortunate death has brought out not just the simmering anger of the long black community in open but also unmasked the outright white supremacists as well as their apologists.