Protesting for Equality: How the Black Lives Matter movement affects Pittsburg


Photo by: Joy Lee

Story by Lane Phifer, Multimedia Editor

More than 400 citizens of Pittsburg and surrounding areas participated in a Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest on June 8 at Immigrant Park, two of whom were senior Emma Annan-Noonoo and her father, K.O. Noonoo. Both spoke at the protest. 

“The BLM protest was very powerful,” Annan-Noonoo said. “There were six speakers who gave personal stories about their experiences with racism and why things need to change. We then marched and kneeled in silence to honor the people that were killed by police brutality.”

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man spent the last 8 minutes and 46 seconds of his life pinned on the ground while he cried out for his mother, for water, and the words, “I can’t breathe,” multiple times. 

Once this news reached the public, millions of Americans began protesting for an end to police brutality, racism and injustice. 

According to the article “From coastal cities to rural towns, breadth of George Floyd protests – most peaceful – captured by data,” 80% of protests that have been occurring since late May appeared to be peaceful, however 20% did not. 

The article “A Look Back At Three Weeks Of Black Lives Matter Protests In Kansas City,” said that in the beginning, some of the protesters were violent, and as a result, so were the police. 

“Protesters took a more aggressive stance against the police. A few broke into bands, looting and vandalizing Country Club Plaza businesses. The crowds rained plastic water bottles and rocks down on police,” the article said. “Officers, in turn, fired rubber bullets and tear gas. It went back and forth like this for hours on end the first three nights of protesting.”

However, for senior Franchesca Brownhanny, who attended the Plaza KC protest in Kansas City on May 31, the protests changed her life. 

“It was so earth-shattering to see what I’ve watched on TV and scrolled passed on TikTok come to life. It was all in front of me. The whole time I felt such an adrenaline rush,” Brownhanny said. “Watching these strong, black speakers and performers show their truth and advocate for reform created a new view in my eyes.”

As a result of the protests, all four officers who participated in Floyd’s death have been charged with murder and fired from the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD).

However, protesters have not backed down.

The lives of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Breonna Taylor and Tony McDade, along with thousands of others, were taken due to police brutality. 

“It’s important to protest because it gives everyone an opportunity to let their voices be heard and to stand up for the rights of others and myself,” junior Teziah Robinson said. “I hope these protests will start to make a change because everyone deserves equal rights and no one should be punished or treated differently because of the color of their skin.”

Since the protests began, thousands of individuals of all ethnicities started showing their support, one of whom is senior Ethan McConnell who spends his days worrying for the safety of some of his family members. 

“I have family members that are black and I fear for them every day because I don’t want to see the headline, ‘Police shoot another unarmed black man/woman,’” McConnell said. “Every time I see that, my heart drops, because that time it could’ve been my sister, it could’ve been my brother, my cousins, or my niece even.”

According to ABCNews, people all across America, along with 18 countries, have participated in the BLM Movement and have now become the largest civil rights movement in world history. 

“As a black man, seeing how there are people of all races in this world, not just in America, are supporting the movement and are fighting for our rights is pretty amazing,” sophomore Will Williams said. “I think I can speak for most people in my community and say that we just want peace and I believe that this movement will enact that.”