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Black Lives Matter: »We look inwards«


The black community was promised a lot after George Floyd's death - what has changed? We went to Atlanta, the cradle of the civil rights movement, in search of answers.

AreaRead the video transcript expand here

Yonasda Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist

'No one died that day.

Things just burned, windows shattered - but George Floyd isn't here anymore."

George Floyd

"I can not breath.

Please take your knee off my neck.”

May 25, 2020 - African-American George Floyd is agonizingly killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

The act triggers one of the largest protest movements in the history of the USA - isolated demos end with riots.

»Black Lives Matter« finally becomes the name of a new civil rights movement.

Where is the movement today, what has changed?

To understand this, we met three people - an activist, a lawyer and a pastor from the black community in Atlanta - where the civil rights movement has its roots.

Fabian Pieper, THE MIRROR

"Nice to finally meet you."

YoNasDa Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist


YoNasDa Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist

"We expected 300 people and then we see hundreds of people from the back of there to the CNN building."

In the days after video of Floyd's death went viral, demonstrations in the United States have multiplied.

In the middle of the corona pandemic, which initially caused the death rate among black people in the country to be significantly higher than that among white people - social inequality is becoming even more visible to everyone at this time than it already was.

In Atlanta, YoNasDa Lonewolf organizes the first demo in the city on May 29th - and it will not remain without consequences.

Fabian Pieper, THE MIRROR

"Why do you think so many people took to the streets?"

YoNasDa Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist

'Everybody got tired of it - I mean the government, but it's about the system.

We all had to see loved ones die because of Covid, we were afraid of death.

And against this background we saw police violence and nobody could look away.«

YoNasDa Lonewolf describes herself as "born into the protest movement." She is a black and Native American activist and rapper, and has a long history of organizing demos and community events.

The Black Lives Matter demo that Lonewolf helped organize does not remain peaceful.

Police and demonstrators clash - the situation escalates.

The headquarters of CNN is right next to the Olympic Park.

Here the anger of some protesters is vented, they demolish the entrance to the transmitter building, set police cars on fire as the National Guard approaches.

YoNasDa Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist

“I feel like that was very necessary because some things have to be big, symbols.

No one died that day and week when the National Guard...some got locked up but just things burned, windows shattered but George Floyd isn't here anymore."

Burning police cars during protests is uncharacteristic of a city that, as the saying goes, is too busy to hate.

Atlanta and the Sweet Auburn neighborhood in particular are the cradle of the black civil rights movement, which - as we will learn later - is still fighting for fairer laws to this day.

Here Martin Luther King lived and preached his concept of non-violent resistance against the oppression of the black population in the Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Martin Luther King Jr., civil rights activist

"We are on our way."

33 percent of Georgia's residents are Afro-American - and only since the Voting Rights Act of 1965 have they been able to vote without restrictions.

Gerald Griggs, civil rights activist and attorney

»I am the first person in my family who was born with all their rights.«

Gerald Griggs grew up in Atlanta and with the civil rights movement, his father lived three houses down from Martin Luther King.

The lawyer represents black victims of police violence.

And Griggs is president of the NAACP in Georgia, one of the oldest and most politically influential civil rights movements in the United States.

Gerald Griggs, civil rights activist and attorney

Most African Americans thought the civil rights movement was a bygone era, but with the Black Lives Matter movement, the demand for social justice, we're in the midst of a similar movement.

Many of us have made it into positions of power, whether they are elected officials or board members.

This is an example of activism influencing the legislature.«

Around 90 percent of black voters voted for Joe Biden in 2020. As the second-largest minority in the USA, they make up a decisive group of voters.

Joe Biden, US President / April 29, 2021

"We have all seen the knee of injustice on the back of black America's neck."

The government announced that it would follow words with deeds: George Floyd's family was invited to the Capitol, the Democrats promised her and the community, among other things, the implementation of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive police law that also to prevent »racial profiling«.

But the law is currently bogging down in the Senate.

Gerald Griggs, civil rights activist and attorney


We understand that politics can be confusing, we understand that compromise is the way to get things across the finish line.

But we also say: You made us a lot of promises.

And if the promises that have been made, like the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, are not kept, there will be a message from Georgia.”

Reform is needed: Black people in the US are twice as likely to be killed by police as white people, according to a Washington Post tally.

Some cases are raised publicly in the community - such as the death of Rayshard Brooks, who was shot by an Atlanta police officer shortly after George Floyd while resisting arrest.

Even Martin Luther King's daughter spoke at Brooks' funeral at the historic Ebenezer Baptists Church.

Bernice Albertine King, daughter of Martin Luther King

"Don't stop until black life is in every state, in every city, in every village, in every sector of American society, and eventually the world."

The First Congregational Church is about a kilometer from the Ebenezer Church.

Here we seek the answer to how Black Lives Matter is being received outside of activist circles.

The small historic parish was founded in 1867 as one of the first churches by formerly enslaved Afro-Americans.

Your pastor, Dwight Andrews, is well acquainted with his community and the developments of recent years.

Dwight D Andrews, pastor


It was interesting that many of the young activists have no connection to what they perceive to be a much more conservative church perspective.

But there are limits to protesting in the streets when there are systemic issues that don't change just because you started a demo.

And I understand when Black Lives Matter protesters are exhausted.

Then that's because of a system that doesn't respond to protests.

We live in a system that hears protests but then moves on to Taylor Swift.”

Fabian Pieper, THE MIRROR

"Do you think anything has changed since 2020?"

Dwight D Andrews, pastor

"I'm not sure.

I think what a lot of people have realized is how deeply rooted violence against black people and young people is.”

Back to the place where police cars burned.

What has changed for Lonewolf, who has dedicated her entire life to protesting?

YoNasDa Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist

»Many activists were beaten up, people are tired of demonstrating and protesting.

I think there has been a change in the police officers that are hired, there are more reliable police officers, officers who come from the community.”

Despite this, Lonewolf remains suspicious of the police, but her more pressing problems lie elsewhere for the moment.

YoNasDa Lonewolf, Black Lives Matter activist

»We are currently turning inwards in activism.

It doesn't matter if it's violent crimes among black people: yes, black lives matter!

So we have to stop killing each other.

Or whether it's about not enough jobs, black lives matter.

We should make as much money as our white counterparts.

It all comes together in the end.«

For Lonewolf and the other people we've met, since George Floyd's death, the struggle has increasingly shifted, from the streets to the interior and politics.

But one thing is clear to everyone: it's far from over.

Source: spiegel

All news articles on 2022-12-14

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