Protests Started Over A Month Ago, But The Fight For Black Lives Rages On

Elly Belle
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock (10687875j) Students and community members marched from the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex to LAUSD headquarters where they listed to speakers outside LAUSD Headquarters urging LAUSD to defund school police and eliminate their budget. BLack Lives Matter protests, Los Angeles, USA – 16 Jun 2020
Mandatory Credit: Photo by Al Seib/Los Angeles Times/Shutterstock (10687875j) Students and community members marched from the Miguel Contreras Learning Complex to LAUSD headquarters where they listed to speakers outside LAUSD Headquarters urging LAUSD to defund school police and eliminate their budget. BLack Lives Matter protests, Los Angeles, USA – 16 Jun 2020

It’s been over a month since Black Lives Matter protests started after the police killed George Floyd in May. Since then, protesters in Minneapolis were able to push the city council to disband the police department and begin to reimagine what their security systems will look like. But the protests — and the actions that have come out of them — are not isolated to the city where George Floyd was suffocated and killed: Across America, protesters have continued to demand that officials defund and abolish police forces and change the country’s systemized racism altogether.

But one month of civil unrest later and it doesn’t seem that the movement to take action is slowing down by any means. On Monday, June 29, Democrats in Congress proposed legislation that aims to end excessive use of force by police, and get rid of protections that shield police officers who are accused of misconduct from being prosecuted.

While laws that protect police officers have already been undone in places like New York, a federal law would be an expansive intervention in the way policing works across the country. In cities like Portland and Minneapolis, student-led campaigns have pushed public school boards to cut ties with the police and take officers out of schools. For Portland schools, that means freeing up $1 million to be used on much-needed social services and more.

Despite individual wins and federal policy proposals, protesters and organizers in most cities are still fighting for officials to take real action around the main demand from protesters: defunding police departments and reallocating the funds to underfunded services like education and housing.

In Seattle, New York, Baltimore, Portland, and elsewhere, budgets remain in the high millions and billions even after cuts that might seem substantial at first glance. In Seattle, for example, protesters rejected a recent proposal by Mayor Jenny Durkan to cut the police budget by $20 million, which would only be a 5% reduction in funding. And in Los Angeles, council members approved a budget cut of $150 million to LAPD’s $1 billion, still a small slash.

Advocates are also asking for real change, rather than symbolic gestures. While officials like D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have named plazas in honor of Black Lives Matter and had “BLACK LIVES MATTER” murals and words painted on streets, activists have said and shown that they want much more than PR stunts that don’t provide any material change. Still, the ever-growing size of the movement has continued to ignite people’s passion to keep protesting and organizing for real justice.

Most recently, protests have taken the form of staged sit-ins at government buildings in response to moves for reforms and adjusted budgets rather than defunding plans. In New York, protesters have camped out at City Hall, waging Occupy City Hall for more than a week, in an attempt to pressure de Blasio and other officials in charge of the budget to cut NYPD funds by at least $1 billion, and reallocate it to social services.

On top of cutting the police budget, the #DefundNYPD campaign also demanded the city not increase NYPD budget lines in 2021, that no new policing-related initiatives are created, and more budget transparency. On the day of the budget vote, June 30, those occupying City Hall in Manhattan stayed the whole night watching the budget meeting from screens outside, with many disappointed in the budget outcome that failed to cut the $1 billion demanded, provided $13 million to the NYPD for “Special Expense,” and further defunded necessary services like healthcare, affordable housing, and more.

“The City Council failed New Yorkers today. Instead of shrinking policing, the Council moved cops from the NYPD to other agencies, refused to institute a hiring freeze on police and failed to take meaningful steps to shrink the NYPD’s massive and abusive presence in our communities,” Communities United for Police Reform said in a statement released on July 1 after the budget vote. “We will continue to fight for true justice for our communities, and for a budget that provides New Yorkers with the resources and services that we deserve.”

In Philadelphia, protesters have similarly asked city officials to reallocate police budgets into community services, homeless services, and libraries by holding a sit-in at the Municipal Services Building. This came as a last-ditch effort after weeks of protests achieved only a 4.3% reduction in the Philadelphia Police Department’s proposed 2021 budget.

Philadelphia has already proposed cutting the city’s $19 million increase to the police budget to $14 million. But according to Flan Park, an organizer in Philadelphia, this falls far short of what organizers demanded. Park said that allies called for at minimum, a $120 million reduction to PPD — an amount equivalent to the total increase to police operating budgets since the current mayor began his first term in office, while other coalition organizations called for things like a 50% reduction and immediate abolition of the police department.

“Groups like Philly for Real Justice, Black Lives Matter Philly, and Black and Brown Workers Cooperative have been organizing around the connections between police brutality and economic injustice toward Black Philadelphians for years before this summer,” Flan says. “Their leadership has been pushing these issues for a long time. I don’t think that even a flat or no increase budget for the PPD would have happened this summer without years of groundwork coming to fruition as people rapidly mobilized. But this fight far from finished.”

The protests and demands won’t be dying down anytime soon. Over the last month, there have been protests in every state in America, with protests in major cities spanning Seattle to New York continuing each day since May 29. What started as individual protests to call for justice for those killed by police — including George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Breonna Taylor — has quickly shifted into a nationwide movement to fundamentally end policing and transform communities. 

Kandace Montgomery, an organizer with MPD150 in Minneapolis, who has been pushing to defund the police for years, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that this moment feels different from the early days of Black Lives Matter, as more people are joining the cause. “Folks in a very decentralized way are mobilizing to the streets to demand justice. Organizers have been clear on this forever, but the general public is more clear that we need to eradicate systemic racism and abolish the police, and that is what feels different now.”

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

When Police Reform Isn't Enough, We Must Defund

Want To Defund The Police? Here’s How To Help

Copaganda: How Police Continue To Ask For Sympathy

More From

  • 13 Breathable Buys For The Sweatiest Situations

    Working out generally equates to working up a sweat — but, getting a workout in during summertime (especially during a heatwave) takes this concept to a whole new level. We're talking about how any type of activity now leaves us so perspiration-soaked that it's as though we'll never be dry again. To combat the feeling that we've just jumped in a pool of lukewarm saltwater, we hunted down the most breathable workout essentials to help us focus on our burpee form and not our swamp butt. Whether you've mastered the art of the at-home workouts or your fitness routine involves socially-distanced and mask-clad outdoor movement, it's all equally money well spent to invest in sweat-combative attire that's crafted to keep you calm, cool, and not dampened. Ahead, find all the best gear for making your body as dry as humanly possible: including breezy tanks that feel like wearing nothing at all, moisture-wicking face masks that you can actually breathe in, and even a sweat-proof accessory that'll save you from yet another sad broken-phone fate. At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. The product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Pull-On Boxer Shorts For A Cool and Comfy SummerThe Most Breathable Sheets For Super Cool SleepThe Most Breathable Face Masks For Hot Summer Days

  • Coronavirus Mansion Parties Are Yet Another Symptom Of The Disease Of American Capitalism!!

    When YouTube star Jake Paul hosted a party at his California mansion in the middle of a pandemic two weeks ago, he garnered the ire of the mayor of Calabasas and local police. But the legal ramifications were not enough to get him to stop hosting ragers in the coronavirus hotspot. According to Paul, that’s just not how he lives. “I’m not the type of person who’s gonna sit around and not live my life,” Paul explained in an interview with Insider. And on Wednesday, just two week’s after Paul’s party, FBI are now investigating his home. Paul is not the only ultra-wealthy, extremely privileged American to be flouting lockdown rules. On Monday, another mansion party in L.A. that boasted over 100 guests also ended badly, with one person killed by gunshot and another four injured, demonstrating some of the other risks of massive underground parties during such precarious times. While the outcomes of both events were inherently different, they share a reckless quality, one that exposes the carelessness of privilege. Earlier in the pandemic, stories and photos of similarly large gatherings went viral on social media, with an accompanying degree of condemnation, as people called out the “dumb hicks” in Kentucky and Alabama hosting “coronavirus parties,” or folks traveling for a Memorial Day rager at Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri. But now, the viral party stories aren’t centered around average people, and are instead squarely focused on the elite. Just weeks after attending a maskless Bridgehampton party and testing positive for coronavirus, Trump re-election campaign advisor and girlfriend to Don Jr, Kimberly Guilfoyle is planning to host fundraisers in the Hamptons. And, Ashley Taylor Bronczek, a Washington D.C. socialite, threw a party at her home for over two dozen people after the Washington Ballet’s online fundraiser, which she co-chaired; after the event, Bronczek and several guests tested positive for the virus. Also, late last month, Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon DJed a “drive-in” Chainsmokers concert in the Hamptons with “thousands of people in close proximity,” according to CBS News. Finally, in the very wealthy town of Greenwich, Connecticut, parties hosted by teens have led to a jump in coronavirus cases.Obviously these wealthy party-goers are not the only ones ignoring the rules of how to act like a compassionate human during a pandemic. For his part, President Trump was only seen wearing a mask in public for the first time last month. But as we close in on six-months of enduring this global emergency, one thing is clear: Coronavirus is not a great equalizer when it comes to class, and it’s only further exposing the massive divide between the rich and the poor in this country. That’s why these mansion parties feel so particularly frustrating to witness: They’re examples of the behavior of privileged people acting like they are exempt from the rules that govern most of us, because, well, they always have been. Ultra-rich people break rules more often, Brad Klontz, a psychologist who works with millionaires and billionaires, told the New York Times in 2017. “They have this feeling that rules don’t apply to them, although that mind-set is often the key to much of their success,” Klontz said. “If they’re told something can’t be done a certain way, they think that doesn’t apply to them and find a way around it.”That type of entitlement — combined with the utter failure of our government to contain the virus when it had the chance — has resulted in an ongoing public health crisis in which the people who know they can take risks will continue to do so, even if it jeopardizes the lives of those who literally can’t afford to take risks at all. Paul admitted as much when asked about his mansion party: “No one has answers, our leadership is failing us, and everyone kind of just doesn’t know what to do.”Except, of course, that for someone who has all the privileges in the world, there are ways of knowing what to do and what not to do. There is no way to think that throwing a huge party right now is a good idea. But capitalism — a system from which Paul and all these other party-throwers directly benefits — doesn’t teach you that you get ahead by caring about other people. And the pandemic, which is making the rich richer and the poor poorer, is clearly not teaching them that either. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Kentucky Had A Coronavirus Party That Ended BadlyMissouri Pool Party Causes Massive Travel AdvisoryKimberly Guilfoyle Under Fire With Trump Campaign

  • WNBA Players Are Protesting Against This Republican Senator — & For Good Reason

    As players from across professional sports participate in league-approved protests, like wearing “Black Lives Matter” or “Equality” on the back of their uniforms or kneeling before the anthem, the WNBA is escalating matter by directly targeting the owner of one of the league’s teams: Republican Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who is an owner of the Atlanta Dream and running for re-election in November. On Tuesday, players from teams across the league, including the Dream, showed up to their games wearing shirts that said “Vote Warnock” — as in Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, the Democrat running against Loeffler for her Senate seat.“The truth is, we need less — not more politics in sports,” Loeffler wrote. Last week, Loeffler also gave an interview to host Jack Posobiec, coming out even more strongly against the Black Lives Matter movement. “I felt some of the recent actions that the league has taken has really moved to divide us further at this moment when I think sports could be such a powerful, uniting force for our country,” she told Posobiec in the interview. Loeffler has also repeatedly used racist language by calling Black people open-carrying “mob rule” and referring to people in support of the movement for Black lives a “woke mob.”The WNBA is over 80 percent Black, and its players have been advocates for social justice for a very long time. After the league announced they were dedicating their season to Black Lives Matter and SayHerName, Loeffler penned a letter to league Commissioner Cathy Engelbert urging her to scrap those plans and focus instead on the imagery of American flags. Following these incidents in defiance of the entire Black Lives Matter movement from Loeffler and her campaign, several players took to Twitter calling on the league to eject her from ownership. “Kelly Loeffler is the anti-movement. She represents what happens when people choose the identity of whiteness over everything else,” New York Liberty player Layshia Clarendon wrote for The Undefeated. “She was OK with owning our team. She was OK with having players who spoke out, like I have, but she is not OK with us gaining this momentum and power.” But, after Engelbert said they wouldn’t force Loeffler to sell, players took matters into their own hands, donning shirts to endorse Loeffler’s opponent. The idea for the shirts originated with Seattle Storm veteran and 11-time WNBA All-Star Sue Bird. Coaches were made aware of the action beforehand, but it is unclear whether Dream co-owner Mary Brock was. Before endorsing Warnock, players had several Zoom calls with him to ensure he was someone whose policies they could get behind. “He’s pro reproductive rights, for criminal justice reform, and pro LGBTQ+ rights,” Clarendon tweeted.> I am honored and humbled by the overwhelming support from the @WNBA players. This movement gives us the opportunity to fight for what we believe in, and I stand by all athletes promoting social justice on and off the court. BlackLivesMatter> > — Reverend Raphael Warnock (@ReverendWarnock) August 4, 2020“When we realized what our owner was doing and how she was kind of using us and the Black Lives Matter movement for her political gain, we felt like we didn’t want to feel kind of lost as the pawns in this,” Elizabeth Williams, who has played for the Dream since 2016, told the New York Times.Loeffler responded by calling the players’ actions “more proof that the out of control cancel culture wants to shut out anyone who disagrees with them,” ironically accusing the players of being “more interested in playing politics than basketball.”Loeffler is running in a November special election against 20 candidates to keep her Senate seat, which she was appointed to last year after Johnny Isakson stepped down due to health problems. Her main competition is actually the other Republican fighting for the seat, Doug Collins, and the two have been vying to make themselves the most obviously pro-Trump; Collins has used Loeffler’s ownership of the Dream against her, pointing out that the WNBA partnered with Planned Parenthood and using that fact to paint Loeffler as “pro abortion.”A poll last week showed Loeffler leading Collins with 26 percent of the vote to his 20 percent; Warnock is polling with just 9 percent of the vote, but the WNBA plans to continue campaigning for him throughout the coming weeks. > You can’t tell us to stick to sports while a sitting senator owns one of our teams! 🙄 It’s one thing to sell a team, it’s another thing to flip a senate senate seat. @RevWarnock is the democratic candidate running for senate in Georgia.> > — Layshia Clarendon (@Layshiac) August 5, 2020It is unclear whether the league will reprimand the players for their action; in 2017, when players wore “Black Lives Matter” shirts during warmups, they were fined for violating the league’s uniform policy, which they then protested with post-game media blackouts.But this action — of players openly campaigning against their owner — is an unprecedented example of the kind of collective labor power that athletes have but so rarely come together to use. The women of the WNBA are doing just that — another example of women, and Black women in particular, being at the forefront of justice movements and paving the way for everyone else. Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?Idaho Is In A Legal Battle To Block Trans AthletesWomen Athletes Are On The Frontlines Of ProtestsUSAG's Reckoning Isn't Over, Athlete A Reveals

  • Alicia Keys Is Officially Launching A Lifestyle Beauty Brand

    Alicia Keys’ naturally glowy complexion has always made us wonder what beauty products the singer-songwriter has in rotation, even before she first committed to going without makeup in 2016. Now, Keys’ dedication to the beauty revolution is going one step further with the upcoming launch of a lifestyle beauty brand, announced today in conjunction with e.l.f. Beauty.Not to be mistaken for a collaboration, Keys will be launching her very own brand under the e.l.f. Beauty portfolio, which acquired W3LL People earlier this year. The company dropped the news today, revealing that the line is expected to launch in 2021. “We are beyond thrilled to leverage our strengths to help realize Alicia’s vision, as it not only aligns with our mission to make the best of beauty accessible but infuses it with an even deeper dimension,” said Tarang Amin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, e.l.f. Beauty, in a press statement. While we don’t know the specific categories Keys will be entering or the name of the brand just yet, we do know that the formulations will be dermatologist-developed and cruelty-free, according to the company. The fact that it’s operating under the e.l.f. umbrella might also suggest that the prices will be wallet-friendly, like the company’s two other brands.Keys’ new venture will also have a lifestyle component, as the press release explains: “A culmination of Keys’ personal skincare journey and her passion for bringing light into the world, this new lifestyle beauty brand will enable Alicia to further explore conversations about inner beauty, wellness and connection…. The brand aims to bring new meaning to beauty by honoring ritual in our daily life and practicing intention in every action.” Keys hasn’t officially spoken out about the announcement, but we’re eagerly awaiting product specifics — and following the news closely for more updates in the future.Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?