View part one of this list here.
The nationwide antiracist rebellion that began on May 26 has now lasted three weeks, and provided a case study in how political and social change happens. Over 2,000 cities and towns across the United States and the globe have witnessed protests in the wake of George Floyd’s state-sanctioned murder. After the defiant movement racked up an impressive list of swift wins over the course of its first two weeks, the last week has seen even more victories.
While police precincts and fast food chains go up in flames, decades-old bureaucratic barriers and slow negotiations seem to have melted away as elected officials scramble to do the bare minimum for Black lives. Their political will, it turns out, can suddenly manifest in full force if the streets become ungovernable. If these past few weeks show us anything, it is, to paraphrase Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, that abolition doesn’t need to be a long, drawn-out process. It can be decided over a weekend: Call a meeting, assemble the right people in a room, take a vote, and get rid of the police.
The point of this list, just like our previous list, is to document the unprecedented changes achieved not by gradual, bread-and-butter electoral work safely contained within the Democratic Party, or by routine, friendly bargaining with the boss, but rather by open rebellion in the streets. As we enter week four of our generation’s greatest collective struggle, the list of our movement’s wins once again proves a fundamental lesson: riots get results.
- In San Francisco, unarmed professionals rather than militarized police will now be responding to non-criminal police calls.
- Hours after the police murder of Rayshard Brooks, the Atlanta chief of police resigned and the killer cop was fired.
- Denver public schools voted unanimously to remove police from Denver schools.
- Boston is cutting $12 million from its police department and redistributing the money to community services.
- Minneapolis city council voted unanimously to eliminate its police department and replace it with an as-yet undefined community alternative.
- Protesters in Seattle took over a police precinct and held the area against police for several days so far, declaring the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.”
- Statues of the genocidal colonizer Christopher Columbus have been beheaded and removed in St. Paul and Boston, and defaced elsewhere.
- The statue of racist confederate leader Jefferson Davis was removed from the Kentucky capitol.
- New York repealed a law, known as Section 50-a, which kept police disciplinary records secret, opening them up to the public for the first time in decades.
- The NFL, Nike, and other corporations made Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the United States, a paid holiday.
- Dockworkers of the ILWU announced they would shut down twenty nine ports across the West Coast on June 19th (Juneteenth) in solidarity with the protests over the murder of George Floyd and against systemic racism.
- NASCAR banned the use of confederate flags at all events and properties.
- After years of ignoring the righteous protests of Colin Kaepernick and others, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was forced to issue an apology and endorsement of protests against racism, while public opinion has swelled behind Kaepernick.
- After removing the only Black members of the dance team at the University of Washington, the dance team coach was fired and the cut members were asked to return.
- After public outcry, Trump was forced to back down and reschedule his racist rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma from Juneteenth.
- After 30 years of spewing pro-police propaganda and perpetuating racist stereotypes, the TV show “COPS” has been cancelled.
- Merriam Webster changed the dictionary definition of racism to include systemic racism.
- After public outcry, the president and board chair of the overwhelmingly white Poetry foundation were forced to resign.
- The Minneapolis Police Department is hemorrhaging cops, as demoralization spreads and police are quitting.
This is certainly a partial list, but it is reflective of the massive shifts and concrete gains that the rebellion has propelled from the realm of the unthinkable into reality. These gains are tenuous, and it will take continued rebellion to secure and build upon them until the entirety of racial capitalism is torn down and a truly free world is able to take its place. What we have now is far from perfect, and the backlash has already begun. But as we move forward during these historic weeks, we would do well to remember that the means by which these swift and unprecedented victories have been won have included street demonstrations, workplace solidarity, often illegal defiance of municipal orders, and riots.
This list is incomplete. You can help by expanding it.