A Summer of Protest: Photographing the Movement for Black Lives

by Dewayne Bingham, Assistant Photo Editor

Following months of COVID-19 related isolation and the gruesome, widely broadcast killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police—a sequence of events many have referred to as a perfect storm—local communities across the country have united under the common goal of ending police brutality and systemic racism.

Citizens young and old, from all racial backgrounds and walks of life, stood together this summer to demand justice for the countless people of color who have been unjustly jailed, beaten and murdered by police in recent years. They cried for justice, speaking and immortalizing the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and those who, like Reginald Arrington Jr, were brutalized in our own city.

Across the country, however, activists and their sentiments have faced immense opposition. The uncomfortable conversations they’ve put forth surrounding criminal justice reform and the reallocation of funds from police departments into their communities, along with their peaceful demonstrations, have often been mischaracterized and wrongly associated with violent rioting and looting. The reality, though, is that around 95% of demonstrations nationwide have been nonviolent.

Despite opposition from local police, conservative counter-protesters and deniers of the systemic issues plaguing our justice system, activists and Black leadership in Chattanooga have tirelessly and almost entirely peacefully pushed for positive change since decades of injustice boiled over in May. With a historically divided election approaching and many more conversations to be had, it doesn’t appear that their fight will be waning with the summer heat.

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