Here’s What The #BlackLivesMatter Movement Has Accomplished (VIDEO)

The 2012 shooting death of unarmed Florida teen, Trayvon Martin, sparked a national and international backlash against America’s well-established system of racial injustice.  Martin was killed by an armed civilian, who was part of a neighborhood watch group. Under Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law, Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, was found not guilty for the murder of the 17-year-old black teen.

Following Trayvon Martin’s death, what started as a social media hashtag, #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) soon grew into a national movement. As explained on the BLM website:

“Rooted in the experiences of Black people in this country who actively resist our de-humanization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes.”

An unarmed black person is killed by police or vigilante police every 28 hours in the United States. While some of the names are familiar to us — Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, John Crawford — so many other innocent lives have been taken with little to no awareness of the part of the public.

In spite of persistent efforts from police, politicians and media pundits, many who have gone out their way to cast the movement in a negative light, BLM activists and protester have worked diligently to bring police brutality and the systemic racism that often fuels it, to the forefront of the national conversation.

Even as their critics hurl false accusations from one side, while the other side implies that their efforts are useless, BLM has gone about the business of changing of the world, seemingly unfazed.

To be certain those changes have yet to be felt everywhere, or by everyone. Still, indictments of police officers are five times higher today, then they were just five months ago. In the past week alone, six police officers have been indicted on murder charges. The murder indictments were handed down in states as diverse as Georgia, Maryland, Virginia and New Mexico.

Between 2005 and 2011 there were just 42 officers indicted on murder charges, although rough estimates suggest that police kill as many as 1,240 people each year. If those numbers are correct, then over the same six-year period, U.S. police killed about 7,440 people. Yet only 42 officers, or .018 percent of police officers who killed someone, were indicted for a crime in connection with those deaths.

To highlight the dramatic progress that has been achieved in the relatively short time since BLM was created, consider that six police officers, from four separate departments, located in four different states, were all indicted on murder charges, in a single week. Compare that to the average of less than two officers a month, which was the norm between 2005 and 2011.

The Black Lives Matter movement has done an incredible job of bringing the issue of police violence and corruption to the national stage. As we see from recent polls, public trust in the police has reached a 22 year low. That’s a good thing. It means that more and more citizens are becoming aware of the very real problems that exist within the criminal justice system. It also means more and more citizens are questioning what they hear in the “official police statement,” instead of blindly trusting the word of every member of law enforcement. It means that maybe the U.S. is finally facing up to the reality of racist cops and killer cops.

I say it’s good, because until we’re ready to admit there is a problem, there’s no way that we can address the problem. When it comes to racism, the U.S. is like any addict in the grips of an addiction, intent on persuading ourselves and those around us, that there’s nothing wrong at all. Everywhere you turn, you see the symptoms of the problem; denial, excuses, blame-shifting, lying, intimidation, threats and the all-too-familiar acts of violence. The first step to recovery is acknowledging the problem.

Less trust in the police will undoubtedly lead to good things. It will result in greater oversight and higher standards of accountability. It will result in more officers being held responsible for the lives callously and carelessly taken away.

In case you missed it, here’s the very powerful #BlackLivesMatter State of the Black Union video:

The problem is a long, long way from being solved, but what we see today tells us that BLM is clearly having a real and important impact on the criminal justice system.

*Featured image credit: Fibonacci Blue on Flckr, under creative commons license 2.0