‘It did hit people differently than many of the murders we’ve seen.’ Melina Abdullah on death of George Floyd

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Activists spray painted the words “BLM,” “Justice for #GeorgeFloyd,” and “Say his name!” on a boarded-up business in Santa Monica. June 5, 2020. Photo by Amy Ta.

Protests over police violence and officer-involved killings of Black people continued over the holiday weekend. The national Black Lives Matter movement hosted another demonstration too. The BLM movement began in 2013 as an effort to hold officers accountable in the deaths of unarmed people. It has picked up renewed vigor following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But how effective has that movement been in eliciting long lasting change? 

“I think that the murder of George Floyd is one tremendous straw that absolutely broke the camel’s back,” says Black Lives Matter LA co-founder Melina Abdullah. “And we know the names Breonna Taylor and Sean Reed and Ahmaud Arbery. … And of course that straw of George Floyd helps all of those other names come to the surface, and for us to recall what it means that these other lives were stolen as well.”

Adbullah says the protests are sparking more change now because George Floyd’s death hit people differently than many of the other murders that were seen on tape. “I think it is what has ushered people beyond the kind of tinkering around the edges of a policing system that is fundamentally oppressive. And [because of that, people are] willing to take larger steps towards transforming the way in which we deal with public safety in this country and in LA as well.”

Credits

Guest:
Melina Abdullah - professor in the Department of Pan-African Studies at Cal State LA, and organizer of the Black Lives Matter movement - @DocMellyMel

Host:
Steve Chiotakis

Producers:
Christian Bordal, Jenna Kagel, Kathryn Barnes