Black Lives Matter movement to mark 10 years of activism, renews call for defunding police

The Black Lives Matter movement hits a major milestone on Thursday, marking 10 years since its founding in 2013 in response to the acquittal of the man who fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Shot dead in a Florida gated community where his father lived in 2012, Martin was an early symbol of a movement that now influences politics, law enforcement and broader conversations about racial progress. in the United States and abroad.

BLM activists and organizations plan to mark a decade of the movement with in-person and virtual events. Calls to action include renewed push to defund policing and reinvest in black communities who have suffered disproportionately from police brutality, unequal treatment in criminal justice systems and incarceration massive.

In the wake of Supreme Court rulings that prevented relief from student loan debt disproportionately held by black borrowers and banned affirmative action in higher education, the need for BLM to exist does not couldn’t be clearer, said prominent movement activist Melina Abdullah.

“What this moment of movement means is that we absolutely need to redouble our efforts and redouble our commitment to make black lives matter,” said Abdullah, director of BLM Grassroots Inc, a collective of organizers at across the country.

“Ten years later, we have a glimpse of what would happen if there was no Black Lives Matter,” she said. “We’re not just going to fight when it’s popular, but we’re going to fight because we need to fight.”

On Saturday in Los Angeles, the “#BLMTurns10 People’s Justice Festival” will be held at Leimert Park, historic district and cultural center of Black Los Angelenos. The festival is designed to resemble a village and will include a pop-up garden dedicated to the families of those killed by police and white supremacist violence.

Festival organizers have invited Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, to speak. Scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West, who is running for President of the United States as a third-party candidate in 2024, was invited to deliver the festival’s keynote address.

The BLM movement first emerged in 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the mixed white and Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer who killed Martin a year earlier. Zimmerman told authorities he acted in self-defense when he shot Martin. He also admitted to an emergency dispatcher that he had tracked and introduced the black teenager as a potential burglar in the gated community of Sanford, Florida.

Martin’s meeting with Zimmerman, as well as the delay in arresting and charging the shooter in the murder, have raised questions about how police are handling alleged acts of vigilance against black victims. In 2012, former President Barack Obama, the nation’s first black commander-in-chief, underscored public concerns about fairness in the case when he said, “If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon”.

On July 13, 2013, a Florida jury of six women, all but one white, found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter. The immediate response to the verdict reverberated in Florida and across the United States, energizing a new generation of black racial justice groups, including the Dream Defenders and BYP100.

BLM co-founders Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Ayo Tometi – the three activists are credited with using the phrase as an affirmation and an organizing strategy – initially committed to building a decentralized organization governed by consensus . The August 2014 shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri helped the phrase “Black Lives Matter” become a powerful rallying cry for progressives and a target of a favorite mockery for law enforcement and policy unions. conservatives.

But barely three years into its existence, all but one of the founders remained involved in the movement’s fledgling organization. And in 2020, an unprecedented wave of donations to the movement following protests over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police meant BLM needed more infrastructure.

Amid disputes with grassroots activists over the direction of organizing the movement, the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation Inc. has been the steward of a charitable endowment worth tens of millions of dollars. BLM Grassroots Inc. operates separately.

The foundation is celebrating BLM’s 10th anniversary with the launch of the campaign it calls Defund the Police Week of Action. On Monday, he released a digital ad renewing the 2020 rallying cries for defunding police departments. The organization is also encouraging supporters to ask local and state elected officials to present a draft proclamation that establishes July 13 as “Black Lives Matter Day.”

“As we continue our efforts to defund police, invest in black communities, and reinvent safety in our communities, we need our elected officials to focus on people, not police,” said D’Zhane Parker, member of the board of directors of the BLM foundation, in a press release.

“The safest places in the world don’t have more police, more jails, more prisons or tougher sentences,” she said. “They have better access to economic opportunity, quality education, stable housing and health care.”


Aaron Morrison is a New York-based member of AP’s Race and Ethnicity team. Follow him on Twitter:

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