Things That Matter

They Were Marching Peacefully To The Polls In Honor Of George Floyd When Police Stopped Them With Pepper Spray

We’re less than 24 hours away from one of the most consequential elections ever. It’s so important that we all get out and vote and that’s exactly what one community in North Carolina was trying to do over the weekend when police intervened with pepper spray, preventing many from exercising their right to vote.

The march was a ‘get out the vote’ march in honor of George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by police. When they were stopped to observe a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd, police moved in and dispersed the crowd with pepper spray – including the elderly, children, and journalists.

Many are calling the police interference an obvious form of voter suppression or intimidation. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only similar story from the past few weeks.

Protesters were marching to the polls in honor of Black Americans killed by police when they were attacked.

On the final day of early voting in North Carolina, police in Alamance County pepper-sprayed a group of voters who were marching to the polls, leaving demonstrators injured and vomiting in the streets.

About 250 people—most of them Black—were taking part in an event called I Am Change Legacy March to the Polls and on their final stop before visiting a polling place in downtown Graham when cops intervened. Law enforcement officers used pepper spray to break up the crowd, a decision that has drawn criticism from the state’s governor and civil rights groups.

According to the Graham Police Department, law enforcement pepper sprayed the ground to disperse the crowd in at least two instances — first, after marchers did not move out of the road following a moment of silence, and again after an officer was “assaulted” and the event deemed “unsafe and unlawful.”

But the event’s organizers and other attendees have said they did nothing to warrant the response, and that they wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights and march to the polls.

“I and our organization, marchers, demonstrators and potential voters left here sunken, sad, traumatized, obstructed and distracted from our intention to lead people all the way to the polls,” said the march organizer, the Rev. Gregory Drumwright, in a news conference Sunday. “Let me tell you something: We were beaten, but we will not be broken,” he added.

The march to the polls was organized in response to the police killings of unarmed Black Americans.

The “I Am Change” march was branded as a “march to the polls” in honor of Black people whose deaths have fueled protests over racial injustice, including George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Trayvon Martin, among others, according to a flyer for the event.

The rally started at the Wayman’s Chapel AME Church and included a stop at the Confederate Monument in Court Square before they were set to continue to a nearby polling place. While stopped for a moment of silence at Court Square in honor of George Floyd, police ordered them to clear the streets.

“Once it was clear that they had no intention to clear the road,” police deployed the pepper spray at the ground, and the crowd then moved to the proper designated area, according to officers.

Many are calling the brazen tactics an explicit form of voter suppression.

Scott Huffman, a North Carolina Democratic congressional candidate who attended the march, said in a video shared on Twitter that demonstrators were exercising their First Amendment rights and that the organizers had obtained proper permits. 

According to marchers, some officers were allowing the protesters to march, but others weren’t, an obvious sign of the breakdown in communication between departments. 

The incident was criticized by a number of officials and civil rights groups, including the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, whose executive director likened it to “voter intimidation.”

“We need to find a way to close the book on voter suppression and police violence if we are to start a new chapter in our story that recognizes the importance of protecting everyone’s right to vote,” said ACLU of North Carolina executive director Chantal Stevens.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper shared the Raleigh News & Observer’s article about the march on Twitter and called the incident “unacceptable.”

“Peaceful demonstrators should be able to have their voices heard and voter intimidation in any form cannot be tolerated,” the governor said

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Protests Erupt In Brazil After Black Man Is Killed By Grocery Store Security Guards

Things That Matter

Protests Erupt In Brazil After Black Man Is Killed By Grocery Store Security Guards

Luis Alvarenga / Getty Images

Protests erupted around Brazil after a Black man was beaten to death by security guards. The man was attacked by grocery security guards on Nov. 19 and died from being choked. The protests echoed the call for racial justice heard in the U.S. after George Floyd’s death.

A disturbing video on social media showing a Black man being attacked by security guards sparked outrage in Brazil.

Video shows two security guards at a Carrefour violently attacking a man. The video is of 40-year-old welder João Alberto Silveira Freitas who died from the attack. His death has sparked protests throughout Brazil calling for racial justice. Protests popped up in front of Carrefour locations across the country calling for justice.

The timing of Silveira Freitas’ death heightened anger.

Silveira Freitas was attacked on the day before Brazil’s Black Awareness Day. The day, called Dia da Consciência Negra, is a day dedicated to honoring the Black community and their contributions. Originally, the Dia da Consciência Negra was celebrated on March 13 to coincide with the abolishment of slavery in Brazil. It was later moved to Nov. 20 to coincide with the death of Zumbi, a beloved Afro-Brazilian figure who fought against slavery in the 1600s.

Some of the protesters have turned their anger towards the French supermarket chain.

“Murderous Carrefour” was seen drawn on protest signs that popped up around the country. A Carrefour in Porto Alegre was attacked by demonstrators. The CEO of Carrefour tweeted in Portuguese condemning the actions of the security guards. He also said that the company is ending its contract with the security company.

People around the world are offering their support in the fight for racial justice in Brazil.

There has been renewed and amplified in recent months. The viral videos of unarmed Black people being killed by police has exposed the crisis in the Black community. Covid lockdowns and restrictions have given those videos a great audience and a more intense spotlight.

READ: Sasha and Malia Obama Participated in Black Lives Matter Protests Over the Summer, According to Their Dad

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A Black Student From Louisiana State Accused Three Police Offers Of Unzipping His Pants To ‘Look’ For Drugs

Things That Matter

A Black Student From Louisiana State Accused Three Police Offers Of Unzipping His Pants To ‘Look’ For Drugs

Anadolu Agency / Getty

Abuse of power by police is alive and well in Baton Rouge and in urgent need of being stopped.

Three police officers from the Louisiana capital have been put on paid administrative leave after accusations of harassment were issued by a local Black college football freshman. According to the student, Koy Moore a freshman who plays a wide receiver at Louisiana State University, the three police officers unzipped his pants and confiscated his phone to prevent him from recording the incident.

In a post shared to Twitter on Saturday, Moore claimed that the officers “violated” him in an attempt to search him for drugs and weapons while screaming “Where’s your gun?”

Koy Moore claims that he was violated by three Baton Rouge police officers.

“I was violated numerous times even going as far as trying to unzip my pants in search of a weapon that I repeatedly told them I did not have,” Moore wrote in the post. “As I tried to go live for video documentation of the harassment, they snatched my phone. I could have lost my life, and I know for a fact nothing would’ve happened to the guys who did it.” 

In his post, More questioned what could have actually happened to him if he hadn’t told the officers that he was a student at LSU.

In response to his tweet, LSU faculty and staff have supported him. Ed Orgeron, LSU’s football coach even commented on the incident in a post to Twitter.“While I cannot comment on the investigation, what I can say is that we must work collectively to embrace our differences,” Orgeron he wrote. “We have to listen, learn, and come together to combat social injustice and racism if we are to create a safer and more equitable society for all.”

The official LSU Twitter account retweeted the coach’s post writing that they shared in “the sentiment shared by Coach Ed Orgeron.”

The three officers, who have been placed on paid leave, have yet to be identified to the public. Still, Chief Murphy Paul of the Baton Rouge Police Department said his department had been in contact with Moore and that an investigation is currently underway.

“We appreciate Mr. Moore bringing this incident to our attention,” Paul said in a statement. “As in every case, we will be collecting all available evidence and conducting interviews. Accountability and transparency are critical in building trust with the community. I pledge a thorough investigation into this complaint.”

The incident in Baton Rouge underlines that major issue in modern American politics. 

During the summer, after Breonna Taylor and George Floyd were murdered by police, Baton Rouge took part in the nationwide protests.

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