The demands for change and justice do not stop at our borders, they can be heard across the seas and in the wind.
*First article in a series on protests around the world*
It has been almost a year since the start of massive protests for Black lives in response to the murders of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Breonna Taylor by Louisville police officers, and so many other Black, Indigenous and persons of color around the nation by police departments. It is important that we keep the pressure on and continue to demand justice, to continue to demand a change in our system. It is especially important as the Derek Chauvin trial progresses that we let the state know that we have not forgotten and we will not stop until there is accountability and a new system that no longer threatens BIPOC lives.
We have seen certain police departments face defunding, or new training requirements, or new accountability measures, but none of this has come close to meeting the demands of the people. None of these things do what needs to be done to protect BIPOC lives. They are the bare minimum done in an effort to placate those with less radical demands and water down the movement as a whole, and they need to be treated as such.
As we continue this fight, however, I find it is just as important to realize that we are not alone in it. Not only are we seeing these battles across the United States of America, but all over the world, people are organizing uprisings and demanding change within their countries. While each of these uprisings have their own unique context and demands, there is still power in finding solidarity with those fighting for change any and everywhere.
One very famous example from 2020 were the Hong Kong protests demanding full democracy and an inquiry into police actions. These protests inspired many tactics that we saw adopted in our own protests here in the US, including the use of umbrellas to shield protestors from cameras and pepper spray, using traffic cones and water to extinguish tear gas canisters, as well as the important principle of “be like water” — a phrase used to reinforce the necessity of being fluid while also sticking together in order to evade arrest and protect each other.
Back in Oct. 2020 in Nigeria, there were massive protests that demanded an end to SARS, or the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, which has operated with little to no accountability “regularly engag[ing] in extreme brutality, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, armed extortion and kidnapping,” according to the Washington Post article “The massive protests in Nigeria, explained,” from Tarila Marclint Ebiede.
And this year in Myanmar a massive civil uprising is taking place after the military seized control of the government on Feb. 1 following the general election where “Ms Suu Kyi’s NLD party won by a landslide,” as stated by Alice Cuddy in her article “Myanmar coup: What is happening and why?” from BBC News.
Cuddy goes on to explain that “The armed forces had backed the opposition, who were demanding a rerun of the vote, claiming widespread fraud. The election commission said there was no evidence to support these claims.” In a collective effort to preserve their rather new democracy and avoid total military control, people took to the streets in impressive numbers to demand their voices be heard.
Looking around the world we can see that we are not alone in this fight for justice. Every day people are rising up and coming together to take the streets and demand change risking their lives, physical and mental well-being. There is an overwhelming call for state powers to do what is right by the people, and even though we are separated by sea, by borders, by language, by religion we are connected in our humanity and our demand for this humanity to be recognized.
Each article that follows in this series will take an in-depth look at a specific protest from the past year, highlighting the context of the protests — the demands, tactics, and how the state has responded. By creating a better understanding of what is happening beyond our own borders we can begin to see the universality in the fight for freedom and justice.
We can learn from what we see abroad and find ways to support those fighting their fight wherever it may be. By finding solidarity with others doing this work all over the world we undermine those that would silence our fight for radical change and we further empower our communities and our efforts towards liberation.