Kristina Knox, a 25-year-old child development teacher from Maryland, cried for days after watching video footage of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis who died right after a police officer kneeled on his neck while Floyd gasped for air.
She had posted about high-profile instances of police brutality wielded against black Americans in her social websites accounts before she attended her first protest in the week – spurred, in part, by hoping to make a better world on her two-year-old son.
“I’m over being walked physically, emotionally, over and mentally” Knox said for a protest outside the US Capitol. “Enough is enough.”
Floyd’s death has sparked protests nationwide and around the world, engulfing city streets with a large number of demonstrators.
The majority of the demonstrators who milled around the US Capitol this week were black individuals their twenties who, like Knox, had felt compelled after Floyd’s death to march on the streets initially.
The United States has become rocked by demonstrations over police killing of unarmed black women, boys and men in the last decade. During the most widespread protests, following the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, most of the protesters in Washington D.C. in the week were just teens themselves.
New demonstrators said they had been driven to protest after seeing a lot of videos and hearing too many stories about black Americans dying at the hands of police officers – and also their concerns about the future of the continent itself.
“It’s not to say that Ferguson did not anger us, but there’s definitely something different about this moment, especially because it is an election year,” said Arianna Evans, 23, a political science student, who attends Prince George’s Community College in Maryland.
“We’re grappling together with the soul of the country this season,” Evans said. And a new generation doesn’t push for the reforms they want, “we may never see that chance.?, if US President Donald Trump isn’t voted out of office?
The protests are broadly loved among Americans. 64% of American adults were sympathetic and 55% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump handled them, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll.
Trump, who seems to be seeking re-election in November, has suggested into a governors to call in the National Guard.
Even though it is not clear exactly how a lot of people taking towards the streets in protests over the last nine days are first-timers, organizers say the number of new protesters is significant.
Freedom Fighters DC, a newly formed group who has hosted multiple demonstrations within Washington, declared that about 150 were first-time protesters of the 500 or so protesters beyond the Capitol building on Wednesday.
Alayshia Florida, 20, a self-described first-time protester who may be headed to nursing school this fall, convinced a white officer to kneel along with her beyond your US Capitol Wednesday, amid cheers.
“It’s time we change how law enforcement officers view us by inviting these to see us as humans,” she said.
Asked what made this moment different, Kelsey Marshman, a 29-year-old mail handler, said: “It’s 2020! This ought not to be happening still. It really shouldn’t. I’m fed up with there being video and these police (officers) not held liable for that.”
The protesters’ demands include better police-sensitivity training, much more serious background checks and convictions versus the law enforcement officers working in the case.
Derek Chauvin, law enforcement officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, has been responsible for second-degree murder. Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest that someone convicted for second-degree murder without a criminal history receive between 30 and 22 years in prison. If they secure a conviction against Chauvin, but Christa Groshek, a defense attorney in Minneapolis, said prosecutors would likely seek more than that.
Minnesota also filed a civil rights charge from the Minneapolis Police Department over Floyd’s death and said it would investigate the department for systemic discriminatory practices.
Around the hot, sunny day in Washington on Wednesday, volunteers passed out hand and water sanitizer, within a bid to reduce risks through the coronavirus pandemic.
Most protesters wore masks when they held up handmade signs bearing phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Shooting” and “There comes a period when silence is betrayal.”
“The people rose facing oppression in 2020. Were we successful stopping it? I doubt it,” said Lorenzo Bell, 36. “But did we just allow them to undertake it? … No.”