Black Lives Matter: The Movement Sweeping America

A Powerful Ideology Bringing Communities Together

Christian Touhey, Video Editor

In the Bay Area, the Black Lives Matter organization aims to raise awareness about anti-Black racism affecting communities nationwide.

Originally founded in 2012, this national activist movement began as response to allegations of police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old African-American high school student, was shot and killed by the captain of his local neighborhood watch in apparent self-defense. The killer, George Zimmerman eventually had his charges acquitted. This event began the ideology many have risen to protest for.

While the Black Lives Matter movement emphasizes a realization of police brutality, others fight for different reasons. Devin Murphy, a protester at a recent Black Lives Matter event, believes Black Lives Matter should focus on unity as a community, rather than protesting violence.

“I am proud to protest against police, and I agree that is one of the large problems that need to be addressed when talking about this issue,” Murphy said. “At the same time, Black Lives Matter should be about the African-American community coming together in a new way that encourages peace without involving violence.”

Brian Peagler, a police officer in San Francisco, has spent 26 years in law enforcement and is currently part of the Elite Police Unit. He has been following the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement since their start in 2012.

“I’ve been working for the San Francisco Police Department for over 20 years, and throughout those years I haven’t seen an increase in excessive use of force by officers,” Peagler commented. “I am not saying that it never happens, but I am speaking specifically for San Francisco, not Oakland or San Jose.”

At a recent court hearing in San Francisco this past Saturday, families stood outside Phillip Burton Federal Courtroom to protest the death of Kayla Moore, a woman living with schizophrenia who was killed by Berkeley Police in-custody after a disturbance call. Among previous trials, the jury has dismissed all claims of excessive force and wrongful arrest.

Maria Moore, sister of Kayla Moore, believes the officers should be held accountable for their actions without question.

“The officers have a specific procedure when dealing with mentally-ill people, and they did not follow this procedure for Kayla,” Moore told Woodside World. “[Kayla] did not deserve to die that night, she deserved to be helped. The Berkeley I know 20 years ago is not the Berkeley I know today.”

When asked about how this case could be related to the Black Lives Matter movement, Moore felt resentment towards the relationship built between police and communities.

Moore said, “It’s no wonder why we have this distrust with police officers, because they are not entering the scene with compassion. They want to take you to jail, and in this case they killed someone. I can only hope an occasion like this will bring more attention to the fact that Black lives matter too.”

Throughout America, numerous protests have taken place in response to deaths of those such as Philandro Castro, and Alton Sterling. Both of these men were killed by police by use of excessive force, and both deaths were caught on camera.

“Police are trained to respond properly to any situation,” Peagler said. “If someone confronts an officer with a gun, that officer will respond differently than if they were confronted with something less dangerous. It is not easy what to expect.”