Photo credit: raydene hansen - Hearst Owned
Photo credit: raydene hansen – Hearst Owned

From Cosmopolitan

The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Tony McDade, news surrounding the October 2019 killing of Brianna Hill, and the horrifying way a white woman used her privilege to threaten Christian Cooper’s life in Central Park have sparked international protests against racism and police brutality in America.

Over the past week, protestors in Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Columbus, Anchorage, Atlanta, Salt Lake City, and New York City were confronted by police in riot gear, tear gas, and, in the case of Louisville, Kentucky, gunshots. (While it’s unclear who fired a gun, according to the New York Times, seven demonstrators in Kentucky were shot by the police.) This was in stark contrast to how the protestors who decried the stay-at-home orders were treated.

If you feel helpless, confused, angry, or fired up, there are actions you can take right now to demand justice. Here’s how you can help:

Contact Government Officials

WCCO reported that mayor of Minneapolis Jacob Frey “called on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to press charges against the arresting officer for George Floyd’s Monday night death.” Since this petition was created, the four fired officers who were involved in his arrest and murder (Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng) have been charged. Chauvin was initially arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, but Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upped his charge to second-degree murder. The three other cops have also been charged, and Kueng and Lane are currently out on bail. Call Mayor Frey at 612-673-2100 or email him at [email protected] to let him know you demand justice and that these officers continue to be held accountable.

And don’t forget to contact Hennepin County attorney Mike Freeman at 612-348-5550 to demand all the officers involved in Floyd’s murder are held accountable by the law. The ACLU even pre-wrote scripts you can use so you don’t have to worry about what to say, and the NAACP made this easy form to contact your congressional officials to advocate for criminal justice reform.

Sign a Petition

Donate, Donate, Donate

So many of the organizations that are dedicated to helping save and advocate for Black lives are in desperate need of additional funds, as are the families involved. And many protestors are being held on bail, so donating to a bail fund helps combat mass incarceration as well as racial and economic disparities. Consider donating to the following:

  • George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd set up an official memorial fund on GoFundMe to help their family during this time. Donations cover “funeral and burial expenses, mental and grief counseling, lodging and travel for all court proceedings, and to assist our family in the days to come as we continue to seek justice for George.” Funds will also be committed to The Estate of George Floyd to help his children receive an education.

  • Breonna Taylor’s family set up a GoFundMe to help them with the financial burden of seeking justice for her.

  • This is the official GoFundMe for Floyd’s 6-year-old daughter. Money donated to this fundraiser will assist with obtaining mental health counseling for her, a good education, and safe travel to and from all court proceedings.

  • This GoFundMe will help cover funeral costs, mental health and grief counseling, and legal fees for McDade’s family.

  • The Minnesota Freedom Fund and North Star Health Collective are two of the high-profile funds receiving a ton of donations, so they’ve since paused on accepting any more. That said, they recommended a bunch of organizations to donate to, and you can find all those on their home pages.

  • Reclaim the Block aims to reallocate money from the police department to other areas of the city that need more health and safety resources.

  • Black Visions is committed to organizing Black communities in Minnesota. Donate here and text Black Lives to 23559 to stay informed.

  • The Louisville Community Bail Fund is using donations to bail out protestors and “provide post-release support to get them from jail, fed, and to a situation of safety.”

  • The Chicago Community Bond Fund pays bond for people in Cook County, Illinois. As the organization stated, the “inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children,” so donating to these types of organizations is crucial.

  • The Philadelphia Bail Fund continues to receive referrals for people who desperately need access to donations. A one-time or recurring donation can help free someone.

  • Any surplus donations to the Atlanta Solidarity Fund will go toward legal defense funds and to support protestors in other locations.

  • The Peoples City Council Freedom Fund helps Los Angeles protestors with legal support, bail, fines, and court fees.

  • To help out in Houston, check out Restoring Justice, which also provides trauma care and additional help navigating the criminal justice system.

  • The Colorado Freedom Fund can generally assist those in Denver and the surrounding areas with cash bonds up to $500.

  • The Columbus Freedom Fund is helping out Ohio residents who were arrested for protesting.

  • The Massachusetts Bail Fund has freed more than 2,745 people since it’s been active and encourages donors to give however much they can.

  • While you should definitely donate to your local fund and cities where the need is the greatest, if you want to donate to a national fund, The Bail Project National Revolving Bail Fund is a solid option. You can also donate directly to NAACP, Equal Justice Initiative, Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, Unicorn Riot, LGBTQ Fund, Emergency Release Fund, and Trans Justice Funding Project, which are all helping on a national level.

Photo credit: Anadolu Agency - Getty Images
Photo credit: Anadolu Agency – Getty Images

Read Up on the Issues

Teen Vogue and Elle compiled super useful guides on anti-racism reads and how you can use your voice and privilege to fight for a better America. Also, check out Campaign Zero’s 10-step plan of action for ending police brutality and eight policies that can decrease police violence by 72 percent. Within the #8CantWait page, you can search your city and see if it has enacted any of the eight policies. If your city isn’t doing enough, the website automatically gives you the contact information for your mayor. (Note: While Campaign Zero does have some useful resources, many have criticized the organization and this initiative for its data analysis and lack of transparency, so please think deeply before you donate to it and as you read their materials.)

Be Cautious About What You Share Online

As many have pointed out, avoid sharing images of protestors who can later be found and targeted. Also, consider how sharing violent images of Black people being killed takes a mental and emotional toll on those who see them, especially without warning. You do not have to share a graphic video of a Black person being killed to demand justice and speak out against racism.

Photo credit: Star Tribune via Getty Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Star Tribune via Getty Images – Getty Images

Protest Wisely

As people take to the streets to protest, it’s so important to know that if you’re an ally, your responsibility is to amplify the voices of Black people, make sure they’re not being mistreated by the police, and not incite violence or create a path of destruction. It’s totally understandable that people are upset and angry and have gone this direction—not telling anyone how to feel here!—but please keep in mind that it is Black people who will be accused and face the repercussions of looting and destroying cities during these protests even if they’re not the ones doing it.

Photo credit: Hannah Peters - Getty Images
Photo credit: Hannah Peters – Getty Images

If you can’t make it out to a protest, you can still participate virtually. On Friday, June 5, there will be a virtual protest at 3 p.m. ET in honor of Breonna Taylor. During this demonstration, you’re encouraged to contact Kentucky officials and go through this list of demands that Loralei HoJay, the creator of the petition for Taylor, thoughtfully wrote out for everyone:

Check in With Your Black Friends

Take time to check in with your Black friends, coworkers, and classmates who are struggling and still trying to go about their daily lives right now. A little goes a long way, but be sure to consider your relationship with them before reaching out and do so in a way that doesn’t put any additional burdens on them.

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