On October 7, UCI’s Black Student Union held a protest in response to LAPD’s Chief of Police, Officer Charlie Beck, visiting campus for UCI’s Race and Policing Symposium. Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters came to UCI from all over SoCal to support BSU in its effort to make a statement against Officer Beck. Many students, including those not directly affiliated with BSU, used the protest as an outlet to stand up for BLM, and support peers who are members of BSU.
The protest began at 11 a.m. and continued for several hours under the scorching sun. Those of us who attended the protest were willing to lose our voices, endure the heat, and sacrifice our time for this cause. For those of us who feel that there are injustices occurring within the police system, the protest was successful in that it was a peaceful and affirmative way for us to take a stand and have our voices heard.
Officer Charlie Beck is not unfamiliar with being disputed. Just this July, BLM staged a sit-in protest in front of Los Angeles city hall against him. In this occasion BLM was protesting against his ruling of the police killing of Redel Jones which he claimed to be supported by LAPD policy. BLM opposed his ruling, citing witnesses who were present at the scene during the time of the police killing who claimed that Redel Jones was shot in the back by an officer while trying to run away. This is one of the countless times in which Officer Beck has been opposed by BLM and criticized by the citizens of Los Angeles for wrongdoings that he reinforces through LAPD policies. BLM supporters did not choose to antagonize Officer Beck simply because he is a police officer, but rather because he is a police officer who has continually used his power to oppress black lives.
On the day of the protest Officer Beck was greeted by Black Lives Matter protesters with chants ranging from “hey hey, ho ho, these racist cops have got to go!” and “you can’t run, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide!” This type of demonstration is an effective way of reminding people in power, such as Officer Beck, that they cannot get away with transgressions without facing consequences.
Social media and news outlets are quick to coin the BLM movement as controversial and misunderstood. Those who are a part of the movement do not find anything controversial about it. Those who oppose it are frequently trying to refute its motives. Incidentally, the day of the protest there were also counter protesters present in favor of Officer Beck. Their claims were that more white people are killed by the police than African Americans annually.
Although their claims are not wrong, because according to a Washington Post database, more white people are killed annually by police than African Americans, they are not taking into account race percentages in the United States. More white people are victims because they are the majority in this country, but in proportion, African Americans are being killed more frequently than white people which is a major issue that has to be addressed.
Everybody is entitled to their own opinions of whether or not they choose to support the movement. But the fact of the matter is that because of systematic racism, police brutality is a flaw in our society. According to the U.S. police shootings database African Americans are three times more likely to be shot by police than whites, with 30 percent of them being unarmed, and fewer than 1 in 3 being suspected of a violent crime.
These statistics prove that police brutality is in fact a race issue. This is an issue that many of us on campus believe has to be addressed, and we will continue to raise awareness in support of BLM in an effort to incite change in our society, like progressive members of society should.
Marilyn Hernandez is a third year environmental science major. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.