BLM Unpacked: More than just a hashtag – Effects on Policy Making

Written by: Amadine
Edited by: Sarah
Graphics by: Yana

In the wake of the horrific murder of George Floyd – the tip of the iceberg in America’s long history of police brutality – there has been an outpouring of support and widespread advocacy from netizens on various media platforms. Their efforts have not only educated millions on the effects of institutionalized racism, but have also led to drastic changes in policymaking.

Following the release of the eight minute and forty-six second video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, #BlackLivesMatter has reignited an international movement in an outcry to address racial injustices and disparities. People worldwide have come together in solidarity to speak out against issues of deep rooted racism, which have been reflected through the pervasive killings of African Americans in the United States.

Protestors, netizens, and teens alike have all played key roles in ensuring a true, physical change in bureaucratic policies through the creation of various petitions, protests, wide media coverage, and donations. In a statement made by Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, he expressed that following a new wave of reform, funding for the New York Police Department (NYPD) would be shifted towards the youth and social services (among other implementations). De Blasio further noted that these changes would take place over the next 18 months in order to “rebuild a fairer city that profoundly addresses injustice and disparity.” Moreover, lawmakers, initiated by De Blasio, signed a bill that would annul the 50-A Legislationー a rule protecting police from being held accountable and keeping police records contained from the publicーin transparency of police discipline.

The Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a civil rights and police reform bill introduced by the democratic party, was also passed this June in Congress with a bipartisan vote of 236 to 181. This bill would “hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.” Centered around the core pillars of accountability, transparency, and training, this bill directly targets smaller areas of the law that make it difficult to hold police accountable due to elements like statutory language, immunity, practices and patterns, investigations, and racial profiling.

These radical amendments in policymaking have demonstrated the large effect mass media and organized protests have had on shedding light on issues and creating powerful change through education, awareness, and influence. The future of racial injustice is being shaped by our generation. We are all catalysts for the change the world is experiencing.

Voices are being heard, and finally, action is being taken.