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In a time where black people are justifiably devastated and grieving, the privileged should be using their privilege to speak up against injustice—not undermining black feelings with selfishness and careless ignorance. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, was pinned down with a knee to his neck—until he became unconscious—by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, a white man. Floyd later died in police custody. 

Protests demanding justice for the lives of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black victims of police brutality, started in Minneapolis, New York, Louisville and more cities across the country. San Marcos held a protest at the county courthouse May 29, several hundred people marched in downtown Houston and Austin residents protested in the middle of  I-35 on May 30.

These protests are responses that stem from decades of police brutality and corruption. Although recent ones are a result of the injustice Floyd faced, protests are rooted in years of pain and frustration a majority of society is unable to comprehend. 

When these marginalized communities worked to meet common ground in a peaceful manner, no one listened or acted. Now, they are fed up.

On the topic of privilege, some argue that not all cops are bad. In a time where activists are screaming Black Lives Matter, some argue All Lives Matter. And while black people are grieving, some continue to tell them how they should or should not respond to tragedy. 

Any time someone in a place of privilege says or does any of those things, it is a problem. Those statements take the plight of black people and place it upon their oppressors, who are then viewed as victims. At some point, enough is enough. 

When it comes to police officers, like those who stood and watched Floyd plead for his breath until he became unconscious and later died, those who do not speak out against institutional wrongdoing are a part of the problem and contribute to centuries-long systemic racism. When incidents like Floyd’s occur, police departments are responsible for holding their officers accountable. Bad apples cannot exist in a field that is supposed to keep civilians safe. 

People protest to force action because otherwise, change will not take place. Historically speaking, officers have gotten away with abusing the criminal justice system to fill a hunger for power, greed and control.

Further, it should not take black people protesting before those in power decide they want to do the right thing.

Ahmaud Arbery was an unarmed 25-year-old black man killed by an ex-police officer and his son while jogging in the streets of Georgia. The video of his “modern-day lynching” went viral three months after his death and only then, after signed petitions, social media posts and calls to the Georgia Police Department, did the men responsible get arrested.

It took Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety John Harrington four days to announce Chauvin’s arrest and charge him with third-degree murder and manslaughter. For four days, Chauvin roamed free, and that is unacceptable.

Moreover, journalists should not be punished for doing their jobs. We have an obligation to our communities to provide important information, and that should not be stifled because officers are having a bad day. As we hold ourselves and others accountable, we expect the institutions tasked with protecting us every day to do the same.

The fight for justice is not over. We need to stop making the choice to ignore oppression and decide to do better at listening and speaking up against injustice. While we have only named the most recent victims of police brutality, this has been an ongoing issue for decades. It is ridiculous we are still addressing it in 2020. 

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