It’s been about a week since a New York grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner, but protests and demonstrations are raging on as communities across the nation are making it clear that they want more than just attention to be drawn to these issues—they want solutions.
In recent days, many have praised the amount of attention that has been drawn to race relations and the national discussions that have been sparked after controversial grand jury decisions, but that isn’t enough for the protesters who are filling the streets, blocking highways, screaming for justice and begging for change.
Protesters are not marching for miles, blocking traffic and staging ‘die-ins’ across the country to simply settle for some media attention.
That’s not what their goal is.
After a week full of demonstrations, protesters are not just chanting the slogans that have become familiar all across the globe, they are letting officials know what kinds of changes they want to see after two grand juries failed to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed Black men.
The first heartbreaking decision came after a grand jury failed to indict Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.
Only a few days later, it was announced that no charges would be brought against Pantaleo after he used a NYPD-restricted chokehold on the Staten Island father of six who repeated 11 times that he couldn’t breathe.
After these decisions, protesters seemed intent on letting the world know they were angry and disappointed.
Now they are focused on demanding change and making it clear what kinds of policies need to be put in place to give Black men a fighting chance in what is supposed to be a post-racial society.
One group, known as the NY Justice League, has been adamantly demanding that more clear laws are put into place about when an officer can and can not use lethal force.
The vague wording of many current state statutes give officers the right to use lethal force whenever they feel it is necessary but do not give specifics about when that is.
This lack of specific guidelines is why it has been nearly impossible for officers to be indicted in cases involving alleged police brutality.
The same group is also asking that the New York Police Department fire Pantaleo.
Other demands from protesters around the country include the call for police body cameras, retraining of entire police forces and tougher punishments for those who are accused of police brutality.
The outrage at the unfairness of the justice system has led to more than 70 medical schools in major cities like Chicago, Atlanta and Boston staging “die-ins” for Wednesday.
Many of the die-ins, groups of protesters lying on the ground with signs in hand, have already made their way to social media with most of them going viral.
From shopping malls to college campuses, videos of protesters lying down together and chanting “No justice, no peace,” “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “We can’t breathe” or “Black lives matter” have made media headlines.
Even celebrities have come forward to make their voices heard.
NBA ballers such as Lebron James and Kobe Bryant were recently seen wearing “I can’t breathe” t-shirts during warm-ups. Some celebrities are using their red carpet appearances as a platform to discuss race relations in America.
With citizens taking to social media to continue planning more marches, organizing more protests, launching more petitions and putting more pressure on politicians to bring about change, it seems like the fire behind this latest push for justice is one that won’t die out with time; it will only be quenched by effective change.