Protesters blocked I-35 in Minneapolis today in what could be the first sign that Black Lives Matter is getting their message heard. Risking the same felony charge that DeRay McKesson was charged with in a similar protest in Louisiana, this latest action wasn’t done by black people.
After DeRay’s arrest for one of two peaceful protests blocking off traffic on a major interstate highway, the internet demanded he be released. Apparently he made enough of an impact to inspire another group to do it again today in Minneapolis.
This new group, who called themselves “the Coalition to Wake Your A** Up,” was a collection of non-black people of color and whites. They chanted, “I believe that we will win,” and were similarly arrested.
This all started when George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black person, for wearing a hoodie while walking where Zimmerman thought he shouldn’t. This inspired the viral movement called Black Lives Matter to form and bring media attention on similar reactions to assumed crime.
When a St. Louis Police officer shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, it was noticed that the officer was white. Black Lives Matter had grown so much by then that riots had started in major cities across the United States.
— MPR News (@MPRnews) July 13, 2016
There have been around 10 similar shootings in recent years, culminating in what may have been an unrelated shooting in Dallas. Five white police officers were killed by a sniper in what appeared to be a vigilante shooting.
— agitator in chief (@soit_goes) July 13, 2016
When protesters blocked I-35 today, the surprising fact was that the people involved were not black, but apparently decided to fight the same battle.
The truth is that racism has been a major problem ever since the United States was founded, a problem which, until the past century, has only begun to see progress toward eliminating. Even the actions of Abraham Lincoln didn’t stop it. He simply made it illegal to own a slave, but slavery persisted.
The black community has been fighting for the right to live with peace and the same privileges as everybody else, and until recently, it seemed nobody was listening. The protesters who blocked I-35 appear to be a sign that the rest of us are seeing their point.
Oluchi Omeoga of Black Lives Matter Minneapolis saw their actions as those of allies to the cause.
“These white people understand that we’re going through something, that black people are going through something in this country, and they want to fight to make a difference. I think that’s beautiful. This is not just St. Paul … this is a systematic issue.”
After the protesters blocked off I-35, they released a similar statement in support of the movement.
“The coalition … believes this shut down reinforces our belief that comfort and business as usual must be disrupted until substantive changes occur in our city and throughout the country. We support community-led alternatives, solutions, and programs to protect our communities. On this day, we support the workers attempting to make a living but we also know that sacrifices must be made if we hope to live decently together.”
Hopefully, this will prove to be a positive step toward equality and end police brutality against the black community. Their actions broke traffic laws and caused a major problem for Minneapolis, but the protesters blocking I-35 could be proof that the Black Lives Matter’s fight is making progress at last.
[Feature image via Michael Gordon/Shutterstock]