Kristina Knox, a 25-year-old child development teacher from Maryland, cried for many days after watching video footage of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man in Minneapolis who died after the police officer kneeled on his neck while Floyd gasped for air.
She had posted about high-profile episodes of police brutality wielded against black Americans on the social networking accounts before she attended her first protest in the week – spurred, partly, by hoping to make a better world on her two-year-old son.
“I’m over being walked emotionally, physically, mentally and over” Knox said at a protest outside of the US Capitol. “Enough is enough.”
Floyd’s death has sparked protests nationwide and around the world, engulfing city streets with 1000s of demonstrators.
Lots of the demonstrators who milled across the US Capitol in the week were black people their twenties who, like Knox, had felt compelled after Floyd’s death to march about the streets the first time.
The Usa has long been rocked by demonstrations over police killing of unarmed black women, boys and men over the last decade. Through the most widespread protests, after the fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, a lot of the protesters in Washington D.C. this week were just teens themselves.
New demonstrators said they had been driven to protest after seeing a lot of hearing and videos a lot of stories about black Americans dying as a result of law enforcement officers – and also by their concerns about the future of the country 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 with all the soul with this country this holiday season,” Evans said. If US President Donald Trump isn’t voted out of office, and a new generation doesn’t push for the reforms they want, “we may never see that chance.”
The protests are broadly preferred among Americans. According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, 64% of American adults were sympathetic and 55% of Americans disapprove of the way Trump handled them.
Trump, who seems to be seeking re-election in November, has suggested to a few governors to call in the National Guard.
While it is not clear just how a lot of people taking for the streets in protests in the last nine days are first-timers, organizers say the amount of new protesters is significant.
Freedom Fighters DC, a newly formed group that has hosted multiple demonstrations within Washington, said that about 150 were first-time protesters with the 500 or more protesters away from 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 together 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 people,” she said.
Asked what made this moment different, Kelsey Marshman, a 29-year-old mail handler, said: “It’s 2020! This should not be happening still. It genuinely shouldn’t. I’m tired of there being video which police (officers) not held responsible for that.”
The protesters’ demands include better police-sensitivity training, much more serious background record checks and convictions up against the police officers working in the case.
Derek Chauvin, law enforcement officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, has become charged with second-degree murder. Minnesota sentencing guidelines suggest that someone convicted for second-degree murder without any 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 stated it would investigate the department for systemic discriminatory practices.
About the hot, sunny day in Washington on Wednesday, volunteers passed out water and hand sanitizer, in the bid to lower risks through the coronavirus pandemic.
Most protesters wore masks because 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 merely allow them to do it? … No.”