Nafisa Osman, the Vice President of Justice Together, gives a presentation of Black Lives Matter as the last event of Justice Week. The event was held in the International Center on Thursday, Oct 27, 2016. (Cable Photo/Maggie Grob)

Justice Together Sheds Light on the Black Lives Matter Movement

Abigail Blonigen

A presentation during Justice Together Week last month was aimed at clearing misconceptions about Black Lives Matter, a powerful but often misunderstood movement that has swept the country.

Nafisa Osman presented a segment explaining what the Black Lives Matter is, how it began, and how it continues to grow.

“It began in 2012 after George Zimmerman was acquitted for the shooting of Trayvon Martin,” said Osman. Black Lives Matter was started by three black women: Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi to bring awareness to the disproportionate killing of black people by police officers.

Osman defined the goal of the Black Lives Matter movement as “to bring awareness of the injustice in the black community as well as to uplift and empower black people through the use of nonviolent tactics.”

The presentation changed freshman Katie Anderson’s mind entirely.

“Before the presentation I had a more negative view on the group,” she said. “This presentation made me more aware of the issues and showed me the true goals of the group.”

Osman also explained the Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter argument in saying “black lives matter” does not mean black lives matter exclusively, but that it is already apparent that white lives matter.

“Both in life and death, black lives continue to be undervalued compared to those of whites,” said Osman.

After warning the audience of disturbing content, Osman presented three cases of police brutality, accompanied by videos of the incident. The first case was the Rodney King incident from 1991. King was severely beaten by police officers, and the officers were found not guilty. This caused a series of riots that caused 53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, fires, damage, and a large financial loss for the city of Los Angeles.

The next case she presented was Mike Brown’s from 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was allegedly heard saying “Hands up, don’t shoot.” After police killed him, they left his body in the middle of the street without covering it.

The most recent case presented was the case of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota this past summer. Castile was pulled over for a faulty taillight, and was shot and killed while reaching for his wallet with a child in the vehicle. The officer pulled the trigger four times within 103 seconds of stopping the car.

The videos associated with these cases were gruesome and hard to watch. So are the statistics. In 2016, 947 people have been killed by police, 264 of which were black.

“Black and Native American citizens are eight to nine times more likely than whites to be arrested for identifiable level offences,” said Osman.

She concluded the presentation in saying how important the Black Lives Matter movement is, and how it has led to other black empowerment movements such as Black Girls Rock.

“At the end of the day, black lives matter, and the loss of black people should not go unnoticed,” said Osman.

For fifth year social work student, Jayce Mayberry, the event was a good way to put things into perspective.

“I felt the presentation was great and necessary. It was put together very nicely and many in our school and community don’t face these certain issues and may not understand what it is like,” Mayberry said.