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The murder of George Floyd was one of the numerous cases of police brutality towards African-American people. This specific case seems to have raised unprecedented awareness about racism and initiated a series of protests under the slogan “black lives matter.” TNGO political analyst Aurora Ceccotti interviewed Caroline Skye Grossman, who explains what it is like to actively take part of this movement, protesting in the streets of New York.
Aurora: Why did you decide to join the protests?
Caroline: I decided to join the protests because even though there is a global pandemic happening and New York is the epicenter of it, I think the number of cases of Coronavirus will eventually dwindle, but racism against Black people has been a pandemic in this country for centuries. Because it has been going on for so long despite people recognizing the need for and mentioning change, no change has actually happened. That being said, I wanted to be a part of this change. Racism has been happening in this country for too long.
Aurora: The Department of Small Businesses Services in New York estimated that circa 450 businesses were vandalized and looted between May and June. What impact did have looters on the protests?
Caroline: In terms of the effects the looters has on the NYC protests, I think because most of the looting happened at night after dark, Mayor De Blasio issued an 8:00 PM curfew in the city. This is ironic because his daughter was arrested protesting – the news even claims she was “looting”. Last week, the 8pm curfew was lifted because not enough people were following it and it put essential workers that work later hours at risk. This decreased some looting, but did not stop it; the number of arrests increased and the number of violent arrests conducted by NYPD (ed. New York Police Department), in my view, increased.
Aurora: Have you ever felt unsafe during the demonstrations?
Caroline: Personally, I have never felt unsafe during the demonstrations. This is probably because I maintained the 8 PM curfew while protesting, and attended more peaceful protests in uptown Manhattan like a Vigil on East End Avenue, and a march along Central Park West, while also encountering some closer to midtown that were peaceful. Whereas downtown Manhattan near Union Square and entering Brooklyn, there were more violent in terms of looting. I was able to feel safe wearing a KN-95 mask and I did not come into physical contact with anyone.
Aurora: Have you ever witnessed forms of police brutality? Has tear gas been used?
Caroline: I personally haven’t witnessed any forms of police brutality or tear gas because I attended more peaceful protests, but I am aware of the phenomenon and know people that have witnessed or been faced with tear gas or police brutality.
Aurora: Are people taking any measures to prevent a further spread of Covid?
Caroline: I would say people are somewhat taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 because everyone is wearing masks and many people wear gloves at the protests. However, people are no longer quarantining at home as much as they used to, and most protesters cannot social distance by maintaining a 6 feet from one another. Cases in NYC have flattened though and there is no longer an official Stay at Home order, so it is safer now.
Aurora: What do you expect the outcome of the protests will be? Will there be a radical, institutional change?
Caroline: I think that, because there are protests around the country and the world, there has to be some sort of institutional change. I have seen people standing up to this injustice that don’t normally speak out about injustices, which is saying a lot; and I think everyone standing up to racism is what it takes to foster change and dismantle the system. It’s not white against Black or Democrat against Republican, it’s everyone against racism.
Aurora: How has governor Cuomo’s approach towards the fight for civil right impacted the intensity of the protests?
Caroline: Governor Cuomo does an acceptable job approaching the protests. He recognizes the need for protesting during the current political climate and I think that’s important.
Aurora: What do you think about president Trump’s response to the protests?
Caroline: I think President Trump has inappropriate and irresponsible responses to protests. He feeds to the racism against Black people by the words he use to describe looters. I have read his tweets and seen him interviewed and he calls them “thugs“ and “hoodlums“, which are both not appropriate, especially coming from the President. His job as a leader is to help dismantle the racist system instead of feeding to it.
Aurora: Any final thoughts?
Caroline: Overall, it is so great to see so many people protesting and standing up to these injustices from all places and backgrounds, especially during a global pandemic. Of course, in this day an age, there are so many other ways to stand up too for those that are unable to protest.
This interview is part of TNGO’s Human Stories rubric.
The views and opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The New Global Order. Any content provided by our authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual.