As I walked out of my office and approached 5th Avenue today at 6 pm, I came upon hundreds of peaceful protesters marching in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
The march comes less than 24 hours after Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer in Minnesota Wednesday night. His girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, recorded the aftermath on Facebook live. Her 4-year-old daughter was sitting in the backseat and witnessed the entire thing.
The march also comes less than 48 hours after Alton Sterling was shot in the chest four times while pinned down by a police officer in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.
As I write this article, President Obama is making his first comments on this news:
Vice President Biden also commented:
These kinds of peaceful protests have been happening across the country all week. To put it in simple terms, Americans are sick of police brutality against black citizens and they want to see it put to an end.
Indeed, from Eric Garner and Walter Scott to Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, smartphones and social media have revolutionized the conversation surrounding police violence in America. There are still people who insist we live in a post-racial society, but for many, the videos, like those from the killings of Sterling and Castile, are massive wake-up calls.
Gone are the days of acting like the killing of innocent Americans isn't a recurring issue.
Social media and technology has made visibility and transparency not only a possibility, but also a necessity. The criminal justice system in the US is in need of reform, and Obama himself said that acknowledging the problem areas of the criminal justice system does not mean all cops are at fault.
Americans aren't condemning all cops when they say Black Lives Matter. They want to see the criminal justice system acknowledge the massive flaws in their practices, accept responsibility for the deaths of too many innocent lives and stand up and act in order to make meaningful change.
Acting isn't hard to do. You just have to choose to do it. And the protestors in New York City have made their actions very clear today:
"Justice for Alton Sterling & Philando Castile."
"Stop the war on Black America." "Rise up! Stop police terror."
The protest has now moved down to Union Square where Black Lives Matter activists and all walks of life are coming together to speak out against police brutality in the US.