The Southern California Black Lives Matter Protests of 2020 Collection consists of newly processed digital photographs documenting the protests and other gatherings related to the Black Lives Matter movement. These photographs were taken by Keith Rice, Bradley Center Archivist and Historian, who attended the various demonstrations in the Los Angeles area. Photographer Nicholas Soracco has also donated photos to the collection.
In 2013, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi created the Black-centered political organization, Black Lives Matter (BLM), in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in 2012. Their mission is to, “eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.” The Black Lives Matter Foundation also strives to create a safe space where Black imagination, innovation, and joy can flourish.
The BLM movement started to grow nationally in 2014 after the killings of Michael Brown in Missouri and Eric Garner in New York. On May 25, 2020, a Minneapolis police officer named Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black Houston native, by kneeling on his neck for almost 10 minutes. George Floyd’s death was witnessed by numerous bystanders, who recorded and posted it online, inspiring the Black Lives Matter protests which began in 2020. The Black Lives Matter Foundation has since evolved into a member-led network consisting of more than 40 chapters worldwide.
A sizable part of the Black Lives Matter Protest collection also references Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old medical worker who was killed in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, on March 13, 2020 when plainclothes police executed a "no-knock" search warrant. Her death, along with the murder of George Floyd and 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, were major catalysts that prompted anti-racism protests across the country. Local killings by the LAPD further escalated the situation, such as the August 31, 2020 shooting of Dijon Kizzee, a 29-year-old native of Westmont, an unincorporated community in South Los Angeles.
The collection also contains united civil rights demonstrations, such as the “Farce of July”, when the Black Lives Matter foundation partnered with local indigenous groups. These demonstrations focused on racial justice broadly as well as on abolishing ICE concentration camps. Another example of support from other marginalized groups is the “Ktown for Black Lives” event. This recurring, unaffiliated event takes place in Koreatown, where locals show solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement while also bringing awareness to struggles within the Asian community, such as the civil war in the Philippines.
The Southern California Black Lives Matter Protests of 2020 Collection is a valuable resource for anyone wanting to delve deeper into civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. These photographs capture important moments during the ongoing protests of the BLM movement.