George Floyd’s death set off the protests across the United States — but it’s not the only reason people are taking to the streets. The demonstrations are also driven by decades of frustration over police brutality, a pandemic that has exacerbated the country’s racial and economic divides and a series of recent incidents that highlighted America’s enduring racism problem.
“You’re looking at a different kind of anger that you’ve never seen before,” said Cedric Alexander, a former police chief who now advises law enforcement agencies on community relations.
n July 2014, a black man suspected of a petty crime was pulled to the ground by New York City police and choked on the pavement as a witness videotaped him crying out, “I can’t breathe.”
The death of Eric Garner touched off protests across the city and around the country, energizing a budding project called Black Lives Matter, which swelled a few weeks later with the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Propelled by those events, and the deaths of other black men and women in police custody, the movement helped bring about a national reckoning on police use of force and other law enforcement tactics seen as targeting minorities and the poor.
But for all the change that has come as a result of that effort, it has not been enough to stop the deaths or disparate treatment, or to break the fear, repression and resentment that millions of Americans feel about the way they are treated by their police and their country