Black Lives Matter staged a march on Saturday around the Minnesota State Fair attended by families looking to enjoy the annual festivities. With the fair gates closed by police, the march ended up outside the main entrance where organizers aired their grievances in speeches on social and political injustice.
The BlackFair protest march, as it was called, left Hamline Park around 11:45 a.m., temporarily blocking the intersection of West Minnehaha and Snelling Avenue before proceeding to the Snelling overpass of Energy Park Drive where a four-minute “die-in” took place. According to TwinCities.com, the “die-in,” which involved marchers lying down on the street, was a reminder of minorities killed by police.
The estimated number of marchers ranged between 350 to 500 blacks and whites, with tagalongs representing Asian-Pacific islanders, transgenders, and sexual minorities. The officers minding the security of the families within the gates, numbered about 100.
The BlackFair organizer, Rashad Turner, told the press that while many people wanted the protest to focus on police brutality, there was also the matter of economic and social injustices being interrelated. TwinCities.com quoted him as follows.
“There are going to be thousands of people, low-income people in Saint Paul who are going to smell that food, but they’re not going to be able to have any.”
The Black Lives Matter movement started with the acquittal of mixed-race George Zimmerman (his father German and his mother Peruvian of black ancestry) in the Florida shooting death of black teen Trayvon Martin. In their scuffle, the mixed-race Hispanic watchman shot and killed the black teen, according to Wikipedia. Zimmerman reportedly sustained head injuries.
Another incident that kept the movement alive was the death of black man Freddie Gray while in police custody. The police officers were charged with mishandling the arrest that led to Gray’s demise. The officers were three black officers and three white officers.
According to the Washington Times, black officer Caesar Goodson, Jr., 45, was charged with second degree murder in the case while the other officers faced lesser charges. Goodson drove the van that allegedly caused injuries to Gray while riding in the back, leading to his death.
During an NBC interview on November 23, 2014, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani cited an official statistic indicating that 93 percent of blacks are killed by other blacks. In an article “Black lives matter! The struggle against police murders, brutality and abuse” on March 5, 2015, Political Affairs author Jarvis Tyner accused Giuliani of racism.
The incidence of blacks being killed needlessly has a tragic historical backdrop. In two-and-a-half years between 1967 and 1970, Nigerian forces crushed a Biafran uprising in which 2 million blacks died from forced famine and fighting. In another case, according to The Guardian, fighting associated with African Islamist group Boko Haram targeting Christian blacks, killed 6,347 civilians in 2014.
A popular notion in the United States is that the policeman, like a watchdog, has a specific function, that of stopping crime. The watchdog prevents a thief from breaking into a house whether he is black or white. If it turns out the thief is black or white, it is a moot point for the policeman who has a clear job to do.
The problem is not black men being shot by cops. It is bigger.
Nationwide gangs like the Bloods and Crips participated in the Baltimore rallies against police brutality. In a unified stance brokered by the Nation of Islam, they issued a statement saying they were not out to get cops. The implied message is that these gangs could also be persuaded to stop killing each other. With proper motivation, they could join civic projects aimed at improving their neighborhoods.
The Black Lives Matter movement is ripe for a new action plan – find opportunities for black youths to sharpen their mathematics and science skills and produce something of value to mankind in general. From among them could emerge a black version of Benjamin Franklin who invented the lightning rod, or ancient Chinese Cai Lun who invented the paper.
Black Lives Matter is a cry for help, an opportunity for those who want to give a black community in pain some relief. For a nation with a black president at the end of his term, and leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton seeking new causes, the timing is right to seize such an opportunity.
[Photo by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images]