Marching toward change

Protests and demonstrations ensure justice for victims of police brutality

Lisa Prater , Staff Writer

 Millions of united voices are singing the same song. The untimely murders of James Scurlock (22, Omaha, NE), Elijah McClain (23, Aurora, CO), Breonna Taylor (26, Louisville, KY), and recently the attempted murder of father, Jacob Blake (29, Kenosha, WI) have all been major causes behind global protests.  And those in attendance are all wanting nothing but to bring awareness to the effects of police brutality and the injustice done to its victims.

Around the nation, many have debated the effect that protests have had on the US and its flawed government. Can we say the united and enraged communities have posed a change, whether locally or globally? 

Frankly yes. Since the 2020 injustice protests began, many state governments have passed bills to improve the safety of citizens. States are finally addressing prejudice in the U.S. on a systemic level. Hate crimes and unjust killings by police are collectively becoming more intolerant and racism within police departments are being outed and recognized by the justice system.

 In the last 15 years, 47 nonfederal officers have been convicted following their arrest for an on-duty murder. However, only five were convicted of murder while the rest were given lesser charges such as manslaughter. 

As a united nation, regulations and bills surrounding police reform have been proposed, but only a few have been acted on. In June of this year, the House passed a bill that bans chokeholds as a means to subdue a suspect and regulates what exactly is “excessive force”, clarifying the blurred lines of violence under police custody. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is one of many governors that have taken immediate action and has signed a multitude of police reform bills into law. In total, 16 states introduced bills regarding police accountability and stricter regulations surrounding police misconduct. Over 154 bills have been introduced, amended, or passed following the murder of George Floyd, the murder that incited major global demonstrations. 

But of course, talking about doing something and putting action behind your ideas are two drastically different things.

Many states like Iowa and Colorado have over 19 laws still waiting to be reviewed and open investigations into police brutality cases and the circumstances surrounding these suspect killings and injuries. Being that police reform is a “state-to-state” issue, the federal system cannot issue a set of preventative and specific laws to help avoid such situations.

Although many cases such as Freddie Gray and Breonna Taylor have yet to receive due to justice, more attention has been brought to the cruel circumstances. Even clear cases such as Jeremy McDole are being reopened to review details that don’t correlate with reports. 

Riots and protests have pushed many District Attorneys Offices to prosecute police officers that are suspects in instances of police brutality and excessive force ending in fatal outcomes. The more recent murders of George Floyd and Pamela Turner have come with convictions for their killers. These convictions were pushed and demanded by local protesters raising awareness for the arrest of obvious cases of killers. 

In the past few weeks, justice has been served on a local level as well. James Scurlock was murdered by a white business owner during a protest trying to protect attendees from being shot. On Sept. 15, his killer was indicted on four different charges including manslaughter. 

In Kentucky, Brenns Taylor’s family’s civil case has also been ruled upon. Her family was awarded $12 million in her wrongful death. This settlement could have been a right step towards Kentucky’s promise for accountability but unfortunately, the judge did not rule in favor of the criminal case.

The 2020 injustice protests have only just begun and already so much has changed. Our communities have exposed many cases of prejudice and racist intentions by a plethora of law enforcement officers, brought awareness to the unjust murders committed by those we trust to “serve and protect,” and have challenged the morals of countless DA offices when many murders who wear the badge are let free. In the early stages, our revolution has altered governments and has rightfully put away menaces to society.