In the last few weeks, protests that began after the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers have spread to practically every major city in the United States. Black Lives Matter has become a rallying cry followed closely by “no justice, no peace.” Protests that are successful are more about winning the hearts and minds of the people than politicians. When the people want change, then there is the political will to change.
Protesters in Hong Kong to Chinese rule have lead a very successful DIY campaign that US protesters can learn from. A key component of Hong Kong’s success has been leveraging the internet and social media. Modern society is celebrity obsessed and the movement has had celebrity supporters testifying in high profile settings including on social media platforms.The Hong Kong movement has had a decentralized organization with self-chosen diplomats representing it in interviews. They have even called on foreign governments to discourage them from sending more crowd control equipment to the area.With racial protests pitting extremely well equipped police forces against unarmed protesters and journalists with tragic results.In Hong Kong, Twitter has become a major tool for organizing protests and for keeping their message front and center. The Hong Kong movement has catchy slogans, even an anthem and flag which help magnify the message on social media. Further, Hong Kong protesters have run successful crowdfunding campaigns that have been used to pay for advertisements to keep the issue in the spotlight. Viral videos are easily shared and keep protesters motivated and further spread the message. The eyes of the world are now on racial injustice in US. These are techniques that be used to keep them there.
October 5, 2020 is an important day. It is the last day to register to vote in order to be able to vote in the Presidential election in Florida. We are all used to seeing voter registration drives friendly people with clip boards covered with forms gracing shopping malls and the front of grocery stores. Times have changed, in more ways than one. With the pandemic still lingering, ensuring that you are ready to vote is just as important as minimizing your exposure to the novel coronavirus. Luckily, there are many routes to do so with people holding virtual registration drives such as a Vote.com. To register directly with in Florida, apply online at RegisterToVoteFlorida.gov. The site allows for first time applications as well as updates to existing registrations. More and more elections are shifting to a mailed in vote. Now more than ever, it is important to make sure your address is up to date with the Division of Elections.With a few exceptions, any Florida resident that is also a US citizen and at least 18 years old can register to vote.
There are many routes to having your voice heard and voting is one of the most powerful. It may be surprising to you that 2020 marks only 100 years that women have had the right to vote. Florida’s history with African American voters is even more brief with most roadblocks to voting only having been swept away in the 1960's. Florida, however, has the dubious honor nationwide of having one of the worst records for disenfranchising would be voters that have felonies on their records. Amendment 4 was overwhelmingly approved by Florida voters, restoring voting rights to over a million people that have served their time for felony convictions. A federal court just ruled against the Florida Legislature that had stated court fees had to be cleared up first stating it amounted to an illegal poll tax. With so many efforts to minimize access to voting, the message is clear that voting is a powerful act.
For further information, check out the Florida Division of Elections page: https://dos.myflorida.com/elections/for-voters/voter-registration/register-to-vote-or-update-your-information/
The murder of blacks at the hands of police is cyclical in nature. The recent murder of forty-six-year-old George Floyd on May 25, 2020 will forever go down in history (it also was Memorial Day). In our modern eyes, we see it as a turning point, but if you look back at history, we (black people) have been here before. The decision we face now, is which direction we will go. The death of George Floyd is painful for many black families who collectively remember generations of violence against blacks - police dogs, water hoses, racist chants, and hooded hoodlums burning crosses. Imagine this, a family that grew up in the 1950's witnessed the assassination of one of the most prolific black leaders - founders of the NAACP, Harry and Harriette Moore in 1955, Malcolm X in 1965, Martin Luther King Jr. and Fred Hampton in 1968, and many friends, brothers, sisters, and friends.
Fast forward more than 50 years, and despite the changing faces of government and rhetoric of politicians, policies still haven't changed! George Floyd was heartlessly killed by the Minneapolis police department and the police force tried to cover it up, as many agencies due their indiscretions. If history tells us anything, we have to be hyper vigilant to make sure justice is served. Let's look back in time, in 1979, a 33-year-old black man by the name Arthur McDuffie was driving a motorcycle on a suspended license. He gave the police chase, but ended up surrendering. When the police got a hold of him they literally crushed his skull like an egg. McDuffie died after being in a coma. The officers falsified records and said that the injuries occurred as the result of an accident caused by McDuffie's speeding. It was later found that the officers ran over the motorcycle to assist in the fabrication of their story. To make matters worse the officers were acquitted after finding considerable evidence against them. After the verdict, the city of Liberty City, Miami (a once prominent black city in the 1940s and 50s, but blighted by welfare and poverty in the 1970s and 80s) rioted and burned what it could to the ground. The injustice continues.
Attiyya Atkins is a former municipal reporter for the Sun Sentinel. Her journey has taken her from Queens, New York to the sunny shores of Fort Lauderdale, Fl. She enjoys spending time with her family, attending community events, and playing with her children. She's a proud Gator and has freelanced for several publications, including the Huffington Post. She enjoys motivating people, starting activist campaigns, and helping her community.