The killing of George Floyd brought together millions of protestors around the world. It wasn’t the first time police brutality had been captured on video but the impact was felt far from the Minneapolis street corner where an officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck.
It was a movement that started from pain some know all to well and a suffering Pastor Otis Moss III said was an awakening for many in America.
“I think for some people they were surprised,” he said. “They were surprised that they were witnessing this type of trauma in America because they lived under a myth about America. For those in our community, we have been speaking about this type of over and over and over.”
The protests found some of the most diverse crowds coming together to speak out against the continued deaths of unarmed black men and women during interactions with police. But with some criticisms that the multicultural allyship seen last summer, might be short lived.
Tim Wise, an anti-racism speaker and author said the success of the protests will be revealed in the what comes next.
“I think in part, sort of the big factor was the fact that for most of us, at the time that George Floyd was killed we were in the middle of essentially a lockdown,” he said. “We were able to see and hear and more importantly feel some of what was going on. As opposed to you know, when we’re sort of back to our routine prior to COVID-19 where it was much easier to hit the snooze button on the alarm clock and go back to sleep, right?”
Wise said it’s important to keep the big picture in mind.
“We need to remain focused. I think on the larger systemic struggle it’s not going to be enough to go into the streets for a year and protest and demonstrate and rally,” he said. “We’re going to have to go back and challenge our family members, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbors – that’s the hard work. That’s like the iceberg where 10% is above the waterline and 90% is beneath. The 10%, that’s the protest activity and it’s important. But the 90% is the day to day institutional work which I fear we haven’t focused enough of our attention on.”
But some of those protests took the form of violence, by way of property destroyed and stores and businesses looted.
Jackie and Janel Jackson are the mother and daughter owners of Kilwins Chocolate, Fudge and Ice Cream, a chain of black owned shops across the city including a location on South Michigan Avenue, right in the middle of what would become a hot spot for looters.
“We came in and it was glass shattered everywhere,” Jackie Jackson said. “(There was a) fixture that they took from CVS and it’s very heavy. They used this to bust the window open.”
“Looking outside, all you see is cars driving up, people packing their bags, luggages, suitcases of items and putting it in their cars and going,” Janel Jackson said of the looting.
“That particular day, we were in here all day preparing to make all these beautiful products because everything is made fresh. And just to see all of that hard work go to waste,” Janel Jackson said. “To see what was happening in the city of Chicago and to our stores, it was a moment where I was cringing because it was like how could anybody be so careless or not be considerate of other people’s hard work?”
And while they worked together for a month to get the shop back up and running, the two see things a little differently when it comes to the influence of that fragment of the protests.
“The looting absolutely was not necessary,” Jackie Jackson. “Burning up the buildings, destroying hard worked business. But protesting and marching, all of that was necessary. I loved everything about that.”
“We’ve tried other, better ways and it was time to do something different,” Janel Jackson said. “Unfortunately it was at the cost of innocent people, innocent business owners. But at the end of the day, if things can change, if we can really see some real change, then that is the ultimate goal.”