Since the recent death of George Floyd in the city of Minneapolis, Austin, Texas has seen day after day of protests resembling those of the Black Lives Matter marches across the U.S. and across the world.
While at times anti-police brutality marches have turned violent themselves, the issue of which the Black Lives Matter movement represents should not be misunderstood. This is not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. At its core, the movement is centered on the fact that blacks receive unequal and unfair treatment from the police.
It’s no secret that blacks are subjected to more police brutality than any other race, and it is often an unspoken or taboo subject. It has rarely—if ever—received the type of public notoriety it receives today. The hope and a dream of the Black Lives Matter movement is essentially the same thing that was written in our declaration of independence: all people are created equal and deserve equal treatment in the eyes of the law.
The Anti-Police Brutality Protests Has Led to Increased Force by Police
Besides peaceful marches, incidents in Austin have ranged from fires of all kinds (dumpsters, trash, cars) to vandalism of neighborhood businesses. The ironic part of the movement is that anti-police brutality protests have actually led to increased force being used by police. When protesters marched and took over I-35 in Austin, Texas in early June 2020, they were met with rubber bullets, bean bags, and tear gas being fired at them by Austin police officers.
Sadly, some officers began using excessive force with regard to peaceful protesters, including shooting a 16-year-old in the face with a “bean bag” who was 100 yards away from the scene of people blocking I-35. This officer is currently under investigation as it appears he deliberately attempted to injure an innocent child. People also have a misconception about non-lethal rounds. They may not kill you, but you may have enduring detrimental physical effects as evidenced by the fact that over 10% of people shot with rubber bullets have lifelong repercussions from them.
How Austin Citizens Are Calling for Change in the City of Austin
Police departments, including the Austin Police Department, have come under public fire for using what is deemed non-lethal force, and citizens across the country (again, including Austin) are demanding change. They want the police to receive additional training and education about how to use less lethal mechanisms in their law enforcement procedures.
These demands by the public have not gone unheard. The City of Austin has acted and called for the city to review its police protocols, while also looking at potentially defunding parts of the police department.
How These Protests Are Different From Past Marches
Protests are a vital part of the American way of life and one of our individual freedoms. They haven’t changed much in the many years they’ve been held, but one of the main differences in today’s protests is that nearly everyone has a smartphone and can record video.
With the presence of social media, thousands of images and angles of police brutality are caught on camera and uploaded to the Internet for everyone’s viewing and sharing pleasure. More people are seeing what the people on the front line have always seen.