Thursday, July 13, 2023, marked ten years of The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement’s existence.
Black Lives Matter activists and organizations plan to commemorate a decade of the movement with in-person and virtual events.
Calls to action include a renewed effort to reinvest in Black communities that have suffered disproportionately from police brutality, unequal treatment in criminal justice systems and mass incarceration.
The Black Lives Matter movement was formed in 2013 in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in a Florida gated community in 2012.
Zimmerman claimed to authorities that he acted in self-defense when he shot Martin. He also acknowledged to an emergency dispatcher that he had followed and profiled the Black teen as a potential burglar in the Sanford, Florida, gated community.
Martin’s encounter with Zimmerman, as well as the delay in arresting and charging the gunman in the killing, raised questions about how police handle suspected acts of vigilantism against Black victims.
On July 13, 2013, a Florida jury of six women, all but one of them white, found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter.
The immediate response to the verdict rippled throughout Florida and across the U.S., igniting a new generation of Black racial justice groups such as the Dream Defenders and BYP100.
Martin became one of the earliest symbols of the BLM, a movement that now wields influence in politics, law enforcement and broader conversations about racial progress in and outside the U.S.
On Saturday, July 15, 2023, the “#BLMTurns10 People’s Justice Festival” will be held in Leimert Park in Los Angeles, a historic neighborhood and cultural hub for Black Los Angelenos.
The festival is designed to feel like a village and will include a pop-up garden dedicated to families of people killed by police and white supremacist violence.
Festival organizers have invited Sybrina Fulton, Martin’s mother, to speak. Scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West, who is running for U.S. President as a third-party candidate in 2024, has been invited to give the festival’s keynote address.
On her part, Melina Abdullah, a Director of BLM Grassroots Inc, a collective of organizers across the country, opined that the need for BLM’s existence could not be more clear.
“What this movement moment means is that we have to absolutely redouble our efforts and redouble our commitment to making Black lives matter,” Abdullah said.
“Ten years in, we’re getting a glimpse at what would happen if there were no Black Lives Matter. We’re not just going to fight when it’s popular, but we’re going to fight because we need to fight.”Melina Abdullah
BLM Iterates Calls To Defund The Police
Moreover, the foundation is commemorating the 10-year BLM anniversary with the launch of a campaign dubbed Defund the Police Week of Action.
On Monday, July 10, 2023, it released a digital ad renewing 2020 rallying cries for defunding police departments.
In a statement, BLM foundation board member, D’Zhane Parker noted, “As we continue our push to defund the police, invest in Black communities and reimagine safety in our communities, we need our elected officials to focus on the people, not police.”
“The safest places around the world don’t have more police, more jails, more prisons, or harsher sentences,” Parker said.
“They have better access to economic opportunities, quality education, stable housing, and health care,” she added.
The organization is also encouraging supporters to ask local and national elected officials to introduce a draft proclamation that establishes July 13 as “Black Lives Matter Day.”