Lauren Martinchek, Medium - June 6, 2020
As I’ve said before on multiple occasions, thinking about what happened to the campaign of Bernie Sanders still stings. But whether it be the rapid spread of a global pandemic that has left over one hundred thousand people dead and forty million unemployed with little to no economic relief from the government, or the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police department that sparked nationwide mass protests, there hasn’t exactly been much time to process any of what this year has thrown at us.
That being said, one thing certainly appears clear: George Floyd’s murder was the tipping point. The widespread pain and anger that has spilled out to the streets stems from far more than the murder of one man by one officer or one police department. This is the direct result of decades upon decades of injustice, brutality at the hands of the police and the state, and economic inequality going largely ignored and unheard by the powers that be here in the United States. For weeks now, I’ve been wondering what the catalyst would be for the American people in the midst of a crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in modern history. The death of George Floyd was it, and understandably so.
I still haven’t watched the video.
I’ve seen the still images, with the sheer terror in his eyes and the utter contempt and sociopathic indifference in the officer’s. I know he called out for his dead mother, and heard the audio on my routine podcast of his last gasping breath before he slipped out of consciousness. That’s about as much as I can take.
As protests continue, Bernie Sanders tweeted:
“Congratulations to all who are out on the streets today peacefully protesting. Together, we will end police brutality. Together, we will defeat Trump. Together, we will fight for a government based on justice and compassion, not greed and lies.”
Thanks Bernie, but we got it from here.
I wish he had won, and the political revolution worked. I wish that there weren’t thousands upon thousands of people forced to take to the streets in the midst of a global pandemic just to make their voices heard and message known. But as cynical as I felt over the past few months, it finally feels as though we are actually in the midst of a revolution. A revolution that’s undeniably well beyond the scope Bernie ever envisioned.
As nice as it is to have his solidarity, this movement is far beyond what he started. It isn’t his.
This moment belongs to the young people on the front lines at these protests, especially young people of color. It belongs to the young organizers who, after asking the Minneapolis Mayor if he would defund the police, promptly demanded that he leave when he said no. The movement belongs to the people who are fully aware that this is far bigger than just needing police “reform”, and that it’s well beyond the point of asking politely. It belongs to everyone who is conscious of the fact that voting alone isn’t going to solve this problem, and have begun to imagine if every single person present at these protests went back to their neighborhoods and workplaces, and organized a general strike.
While it might be painful to think about how different things might be if Bernie had gotten the nomination, I have real hope in my heart for the first time in months. In a country that’s been so apathetic and weary, I truly did not expect these events to unfold and continue in the way that they have. Now it’s time to take it further. We’re seeing these protests generate not just a response within the communities that they’re taking place, but worldwide solidarity as well. Frankly, I’m just not that interested in what Bernie has to say when it comes to this. My hope lies with teenagers, community leaders, and the tens of thousands of people coming to the protests they organize.