Not everyone can join a local demonstration, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s my duty to be out here,” said Brianna Petrisko. She was one of the countless Americans who took to the streets Friday night to make their voices heard and demand justice for the police killing of George Floyd.
Petrisko was among those at Foley Square in lower Manhattan, where most were wearing masks amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Our country has a sickness,” she told the Associated Press. “We have to be out here. This is the only way we’re going to be heard.”
Floyd, a 46-year-old Minneapolis resident, died Monday after an encounter with four police officers that included one officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes as they arrested him for attempted forgery. The unarmed Black man later died. All four police officers were fired when the video showing the incident became public.
Although Minneapolis remains the epicenter of demonstrations, related protests calling for justice for Floyd have taken place in at least 30 cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Denver, Atlanta, Louisville, Kentucky, Charlotte, North Carolina, and others. At least two people were killed last night, though many of the rallies were peaceful.
More are planned for Saturday and the days to come.
Thousands of protesters carried signs that said things like: “He said I can’t breathe. Justice for George.” They chanted “No justice, no peace” and “Say his name. George Floyd.”
“This has been brewing for years,” Owen Duckworth, a community organizer with Minneapolis racial justice and equality advocacy group The Alliance, told TIME. “A lot of black folks are scared. The moment is raw for a lot of people and that’s when you see the uprisings that have happened.”
Organizers say the protests, which have played out differently in each city, are working. On Friday, the officer is seen with his knee on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin was arrested and charged with third-degree murder. Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said his department had never charged a case in the amount of time it took them to charge Chauvin.
“Make no mistake,” tweeted Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, “this happened bc of protestors demonstrating in MN and nationwide, risking their lives to challenge a genocidal, white supremacist status quo.”
Not everyone, of course, can join a local demonstration to help effect that change—especially amid the current public health crisis. Here are other ways to get involved and help support the protests.
Sign a petition
A petition seeking justice for Floyd had nearly 6.5 million signatures early Saturday morning. It is the biggest Change.org petition of all time.
Another Change.org petition is calling for the charges against former Minneapolis Derek Chauvin to be raised to first-degree murder.
You can also ask the Minneapolis City Council to defund the police. (The University of Minnesota has already cut ties with the Minneapolis Police Department.) “Now is the time to invest in a safe, liberated future for our city,” the petition reads. “We can’t afford to keep funding MPD’s attacks on Black lives.”
To help advance national police reform, consider supporting a petition spearheaded by Black Lives Matter Utah organizer Lex Scott, who has drafted a bill she plans to take to national lawmakers. The bill calls for better implicit bias training for every police department, stricter policies on the use of deadly force, independent agencies to investigate officer-involved shootings and more.
Amplify local organizations doing the work on the ground.
A simple share on social media can help spread the word on how these organizations are fighting for Black lives and those of other marginalized communities. Some great places to start include Black Visions Collective in Minnesota, Action St. Louis in Missouri, Racial Justice Action Center in Atlanta, or your local Black Lives Matter chapter.
Contribute to a fund dedicated to helping bail out people arrested for demonstrating.
Here are just a few:
Minnesota Freedom Fund
Louisville Community Bail Fund
Atlanta Solidarity Fund
New York City
Free Them All for Public Health
Massachusetts Bail Fund
Columbus Freedom Fund
Just City Memphis
You may also want to contribute to a GoFundMe started by Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd to help cover the cost of funeral and burial expenses, grief counseling and assist the family in lodging and travel for upcoming court proceedings. Some of the funds raised will also go to benefit Floyd’s children.
Make sure you’re registered to vote — and use that power when the time comes.
“Many of the things that will change people’s lives are structural, so it’s about voting where you are and pushing for or against legislation in your city and town,” said activist DeRay McKesson in a TED interview. “Use your institutional power to change structures and systems. Who shows up to the hearings about police violence? Who is working on welfare reform? Who is working on bail reform?”
Vote for those candidates.
For more ways to take action, join The Movement for Black Lives’ national call for action at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday via Zoom. Register here.