“Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious,” George Orwell said in his renowned novel, 1984. In San Diego and across the country, “One solution: Revolution” is a chant and mantra that protestors repeat as they march through their hometowns. As President Trump contributes to a narrative that protestors are violent looters and that he is protecting his people by deploying the military against them and violating their constitutional rights, he attempts to quell the rebellion. He creates a stigma against anyone associated with Black Lives Matter by depicting protestors as destructive and a danger to civilian safety. He, along with mainstream media, pats those who posted a black square on blackout Tuesday on the back, urges them to get back to their lives, and continues to ignore systemic racism in America. Media outlets and the government combined rock the complacent back to sleep, in hopes of destroying a movement that has taken root in a powerful and strong-willed generation, Gen Z. President Trump has been doing everything in his power to discourage and halt any protests regarding the Black Lives Matter Movement, expanding his capabilities in doing so. When this nation was founded, the President did not have this much power.
Following the American Revolution, our founding fathers came to a consensus that they wished to create a government in which the leader’s power was limited in an attempt to fully prevent tyranny. Checks and balances were created so each branch can monitor the two others and the legality of their actions. George Washington advised against creating political parties, knowing they would divide the nation. His warnings were not taken seriously, and a two party political system was created. Over time, the polarization in America has only become worse, and presidents have pushed the boundaries of their power in an effort to use any means necessary to further their agendas.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt expanded presidential power during his four terms by introducing his New Deal programs. President Lyndon B. Johnson did the same with his Great Society programs, and after 9/11, President George W. Bush established the Department of Homeland Security and introduced the Patriot Act, which brought already suspected government surveillance into the light. Now, President Trump is sending the U.S. military out against his own people and set a curfew of 7 P.M., violating first amendment rights nationwide.
The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances”. On June 1, President Trump addressed the nation in regards to protests responding to George Floyd’s murder. He then had the United States military fire tear gas onto a crowd of peaceful protestors to clear his path to St. John’s Episcopal Church, where he would hold up a Bible for the press while violating protestors’ right to peaceably assemble. This moment will be written in history forever — the President turns his back on his people and their first amendment rights in an effort to make himself look more powerful to the distorted media. Yet people are quick to turn the other cheek to this clear act of tyranny due to the small portion of “protestors”, including white supremacists, and in multiple areas, police officers, inciting violence and destroying property, alongside COVID-19- two domestic crises. This historical pattern of presidents expanding their executive power while the nation is too focused on other events must come into the light. It is time for Americans to realize that the people have the power, and should not allow for the U.S. government to coddle them into backing down from a justified and needed movement.
By stating that he will send the United States military to quell the rebellion throughout the nation, President Trump enacted the Insurrection Act, last used when California Governor Pete Wilson asked President George H.W. Bush in 1992 for federal military assistance to put a stop to the Los Angeles Riots following the murder of Rodney King. The act states, “If there is an insurrection in a State, the President, at the request of the State’s legislature, or Governor if the legislature cannot be convened, may call National Guards of other States into Federal service as well as use the Federal military to suppress the insurrection”.
Though the movement may be dying out virtually as people return to posting normally about their own lives, it is not going away in real life, nor is the threatening of Black life. In cities across the world, protests are occurring every day in response to police brutality against Black people in America. The NAACP, alongside the entire continent of Africa, called on the United Nations to recognize the current situation as a human rights crisis and call out the American government in the process for the cruelty shown towards the Black community since the founding of the nation, as slaves built the country which endangered them.
Slavery never ended, it was redesigned and worked into American prison systems. The thirteenth amendment states, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” This loophole allows for United States prisons to utilize their inmates for prison labor, and place them in inhumane conditions in the process. An Anti-Black rhetoric is written into American laws, and voices are silenced as more and more people are incarcerated for nonviolent charges which strip them of their right to vote for the rest of their lives. 1 in 13 Black Americans cannot vote due to felony charges, a policy that reeks of literacy tests, insane fees, and all other methods of voter suppression used in the 1950s and 60s.
Though President Trump, accompanied by the far right, wish to create a narrative that Black Lives Matter is simply an Instagram trend that people will move on from, it is pertinent for Americans to remember that real change is occurring as the protests continue, and this is only the beginning of a revolution that inspires progression and a growth in our humanity. He will continue to attempt to silence voices of the movement, but ultimately, the nation was designed to give the people the power, and the right/duty to overthrow a government that does not respect the rights of its citizens. Until the President can recognize that this is a humanitarian crisis rather than a political issue and stand up for Black lives, the protests will continue, and a full revolution could stem from them. An estimated 67% of adults advocate for Black Lives Matter, and this has become the biggest civil rights movement in world history. Though it took Americans a long time to come to terms with the cruel treatment the Black community receives in this country, people are now waking up and seeing this injustice. Becoming conscious of this inequality in America is a huge step for the nation, but it is not enough. Actions must be taken to dismantle the system in which the Black community is criminalized, wrongfully incarcerated, and brutalized by corrupt law enforcement and white supremacists, both at the local and federal level.