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Books To Read So That You Can Be A Better Ally Of The Black Lives Matter Movement

During this time of so much unrest and pain, you might be feeling relatively powerless but it’s important to know that there are ways to help. There are petitions to sign, groups to support and people to hug. But perhaps one of the most empowering things you can do to help right now is to educate yourself. To be a true ally to the Black Lives Matter movement you have to educate yourself about the history of systemic racism in our country.

To help, we’ve put together a reading list of books and poems by African-American writers to check out.

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

Amazon.com

Activist Angela Davis was a pioneer of her time and while you might see her various quotes about racism and race circulating around the internet in the wake of George Floy’s death, there is far more to learn from her. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, which was published in 2016, shows her thoughts and insights on civil rights, racism, and feminism through a series of essays.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Amazon.com

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter will light up how you see the ways in which racism affects Black people of various classes. Carter lives in a poor neighborhood and goes to school at fancy suburban prep school where she juggles having to blend in and stay ahead of the educational curve. Starr’s life is thrown out of balance when the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil occurs at the hands of a police officer.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Written in 1962, this classic about the Civil Rights Movement is divided into two parts both of which give a powerful reflection on Baldwin’s time Harlem. In his novel, writes “If we – and I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of others – do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.”

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

Amazon.com

As a reporter for The Washington Post, Wesley Lowery spent much of President Obama’s second term in office traveling from city to city, covering the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, including Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. They Can’t Kill Us All begins with his own aggressive arrest during the Ferguson protests after allegedly “failing to disperse” quickly enough when police officers cleared out a McDonald’s – then goes on to recount the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement from the front lines. In short, it’s essential reading right now.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Amazon.com

For this story that sheds light on the collective trauma felt by slaves and their descendants, Morrison won a Pulitzer Prize. Morrison’s novel was inspired by a true reported piece written in the American Baptist in 1856 and follows a woman who escaped as a slave from a fictional plantation to live in the free state of Ohio. Despite her escape, she remains haunted by the ghosts of her pays.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

Amazon.com

Everyone needs to read every piece by this poet who has described herself as a black, lesbian, mother, and warrior. In this collection of essays, speeches, and poems by Lorde there’s so much to learn from this brilliant keynote speaker and writer.

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Here’s How You Can Help Daunte Wright’s Family After He Was Killed By Police

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Here’s How You Can Help Daunte Wright’s Family After He Was Killed By Police

Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Police have taken another Black man’s life, this time it’s 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Protests have broken out in cities across the country as the nation reacts to the killing of yet another young Black man.

But as the nation reacts to the murder, Wright’s family – his mother and child – need all the support they can get right now and thankfully there are many ways that we can all be better allies while helping support the family that Wright leaves behind.

Daunte Wright is the third high-profile police murder in Minneapolis.

Daunte Wright was driving to his older brother’s house with his girlfriend on Sunday afternoon, when police pulled him over for expired tags. Police said they found an existing warrant for Wright’s arrest and attempted to handcuff him.

Bodycam footage revealed Officer Kim Potter shot Wright when she claimed to be reaching for her taser. He died on the scene, just 10 miles from where former police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of George Floyd.

According to CNN, Daunte’s death is at least the third high-profile death of a Black man at the hands of police in Minnesota in the last five years. And Daunte Wright’s death comes less than a year after the police killing of George Floyd, which sparked protests around the world.

Daunte Wright leaves behind a family still struggling with such an immense loss.

Daunte’s mother, Katie Wright, spoke out about the fear he experienced before his death. Daunte called her after the police pulled him over, at the suggestion of his older brother. “I know my son was scared. He’s afraid of the police, and I just seen and heard the fear in his voice. But I don’t know why, and it should have never escalated the way it did,” Katie told Good Morning America on April 13.

According to Katie, Daunte believed he was getting pulled over for his hanging air fresheners, then she heard “scuffling” and an officer told him to hang up the phone. “I tried to call back three, four times and the girl that was with him answered the phone and she said that they shot him and he was lying in the driver’s seat unresponsive.”

If you’d like to help support Daunte’s family and demand justice, below are a few resources and action items:

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The Justice Department Has Brought Forth Federal Criminal Charges Against Derek Chauvin And 3 Other Police Officers

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The Justice Department Has Brought Forth Federal Criminal Charges Against Derek Chauvin And 3 Other Police Officers

Stephanie Keith / Getty

Updated May 9, 2021.

The crowd outside the Minneapolis courtroom and at the location of George Floyd’s murder broke into a rallying cry of relief in April when it was revealed that former police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty. Jurors overseeing his trial came to the decision which was greeted with chants of “justice” and “Black Lives Matter” which broke out on the streets.

After reading the jury’s verdicts in April, Judge Peter Cahill revealed that they found Chauvin guilty of all three counts.

Chauvin, 45, was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. 

Despite his plea of not guilty Chauvin (who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed) was convicted of the charges that accused him of causing Floyd’s death by “perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life” and “culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm” according to CNN

Soon after reading the verdict, Judge Peter Cahill thanked the jurors for their service in the case remarking “I have to thank you on behalf of the people of the state of Minnesota, for not only jury service, but heavy-duty jury service.”

The Justice Department has now filed federal criminal charges against Derek Chauvin as well as three other former police officers at the scene of Floyd’s death.

The Justice Department has accused Chauvin of using excessive force and violating the civil rights of George Floyd. The three other officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, have also been charged federally for their part in Floyd’s death. According to NPR, “two of the men, Kueng and Thao, are accused of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin. All three face a charge of failing to provide medical care with ‘deliberate indifference’ to Floyd’s suffering. They already are preparing for a state trial in August.”

In response to the verdicts, the attorney Ben Crump and George Floyd’s family released a statement describing it as going far beyond Minneapolis and underlining how it has “significant implications for the country and even the world.”

“Painfully earned justice has arrived for George Floyd’s family and the community here in Minneapolis, but today’s verdict goes far beyond this city and has significant implications for the country and even the world. Justice for Black America is justice for all of America. This case is a turning point in American history for accountability of law enforcement and sends a clear message we hope is heard clearly in every city and every state. We thank Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and his team for their fierce dedication to justice for George. But it does not end here. We have not forgotten that the other three officers who played their own roles in the death of George Floyd must still be held accountable for their actions, as well,” the statement read.

Soon after the verdicts were read Chauvin was handcuffed and taken into custody by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The sentencing will take place in eight weeks from today.

Nearly a year has passed since the death of George Floyd but the fight for justice carried on. During the trial, released transcripts of body camera footage show that Floyd had pled for his life and told officers at least 27 times that he couldn’t breathe before his death.

The opening statements of Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial took place in late March and revealed shocking details on the case of George Floyd. One of the biggest revelations came from the prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds rather than the commonly believed 8 minutes and 46 seconds. In addition to this, is the reveal that it was in fact a 911 dispatcher who witnessed George Floyd’s death last May.

Watching the incident through a nearby police camera, Jena Scurry was in fact the person who called the police on the police officer.

Jena Scurry is the dispatcher who first raised the alarm about Floyd’s death.

“You’re going to learn that there was a 911 dispatcher. Her name is Jena Scurry,” special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell stated during an opening statement on behalf of the state “There was a fixed police camera that was trained on this particular scene. She could see through the camera what was going on. You will learn that what she saw was so unusual and, for her, so disturbing that she did something that she had never done in her career.”

Watching what was happening, Scurry reportedly became so worried by what she saw Chauvin and the three other officers taking part in that she called Minneapolis Sgt. David Pleoger. Ultimately it was Pleoger who managed the officers involved in the murder

“My instincts were telling me something was wrong,” Scurry explained to prosecutors that took place during the trial at Hennepin County Courthouse this past Monday. “It was a gut instinct of the incident: Something is not going right. Whether it be they needed more assistance. Just something wasn’t right.”

Scurry testified that while she could not remember when she called police she was moved to take action after an uncomfortable “extended period of time.” 

At one point, the defense noted that it took some time for Scurry to call Chauvin’s sergeant. In fact, it took nearly 30 minutes from when the dispatcher received the first 911 call about Floyd. She also stated during her testimony that she became concerned when she saw the police vehicle “rocking bath and forth” while Floyd was inside.

Scurry was actually one of “at least three people who called for police intervention as she watched Chauvin kneel on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds during his May 25 arrest outside a downtown convenience store, according to Blackwell,” according to CNN.

On the eighth day of Chauvin’s criminal trial, the special agent who led investigation into George Floyd’s death changed his mind on what he thought he heard Floyd say while Chauvin was kneeling on his neck.

Senior Special Agent James Reyerson who led the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was shown a clip from Minneapolis Police body-camera footage of Floyd during his murder. In the clip, Floyd can be heard something while handcuffed, his stomach pressed to the ground.

“Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said, ‘I ate too many drugs?” Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Reyerson.

“Yes, it did,” Reyerson replied.

After, what CNN describes as “a short break,” the prosecution played an extended clip of the video for for Reyerson.

“Having heard it in context, are you able to tell what Mr. Floyd is saying there?” the prosecutoing attorney Matthew Frank asked.

“Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd was saying, ‘I ain’t do no drugs,” Reyerson replied.

Top-ranking police officials from the Minneapolis Police Department, including the city’s police chief, testified that Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd was a violation of protocols.

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, and Chauvin’s currently-retired former supervisor, Sgt. David Pleoger, testified against him this week during his murder trial for his murder of Floyd. Arradondo testified against Chauvin on Monday said that he “vehemently disagreed” with Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd on May 25, 2020.

“There’s an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control in the first few seconds,” Arradondo told the jury. “But once there was no longer any resistance — and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless — to continue to apply that level of force to a person prone down, handcuffed behind their back … that in no way, shape, or form is part of our policy, is not part of our training, and is not part of our ethics and values.”

The prosecution team played bystander video of Floyd’s murder during the opening statement and accused Chauvin of violating the oath of his badge.

The prosecutor stated that he also betrayed his post when he refused to help Floyd when he pleaded “I can’t breathe.”

“We plan to prove to you that he’s anything other than innocent,” Blackwell said in his statement.

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