A Year of Protests and Social Reform
By Margot Englander
2020 was a year like no other. This year highlighted what many perceive as inequalities in the American government and around the globe. Protests for human rights, health care, and climate control, as well as anti-government protests, took place in countries like the US, Belgium, and Russia. While Americans are most familiar with the protests in their home nation against perceived police brutality and racial inequality that came to a head after the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, all global citizens have seen a shift since March of 2020. While not every protest has been positive, the outcry of division is apparent now more than ever. One year later, the Chronicle is spotlighting the most impactful events.
Police Brutality/BLM Protests (Around the World):
In May, June, and July 2020, BLM (Black Lives Matter) Protests erupted not only in the United States, but around the world. As a response to what the movement considers years of inequality and police brutality, BLM gained a new wave of traction as citizens of all nations took to the streets amid the global pandemic. The BLM movement has been around since 2013, but was just recently brought to new heights of exposure after bodycam footage and recordings showed new mistreatment of individuals. These 2020 protests had millions of people rally together, even more protesters than in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. While many protested peacefully, others looted and burned businesses and government buildings, violently attacked police, and even took control of a section of Seattle, Washington.
Capitol Riot (Washington DC, USA):
The Capitol Riot in Washington DC, on January 6th was the culmination of months of tension, misinformation, and hate, and a strong belief by many supporters of former President Donald Trump that he should have won the election. January 6th was supposed to be the counting of the Electoral College votes to certify President Joseph Biden's win, but it turned dangerous when right wing extremists charged the Capitol building and vandalized the chambers. Many feel that insurrection further highlighted the differences in how violent BLM protesters and violent Trump supporters were treated by law enforcement.
Alexei Navalny Support (Russia):
Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition leader and Russian President Vladimir Putin's best known critic, who was recently jailed for speaking out against Putin. Thousands of anti-government corruption and Navalny supporters took to the streets to protest for his release. Police used violence and beatings to try to stifle the largest uproar in Russia in years. The U.S. government urged Russia to release Navalny and let protesters protest.
Protests Against Hijab Ban (Belgium):
In Belgium, a recent court ruling allowed bans on religious symbols in higher education, including on women wearing hijabs. Many feel this movement is deeply rooted in Islamophobia, and over 1,000 protesters took to the street to support the #HijabisFightBack
event. The majority of protesters were young hijabi women, as well as non-head covering
women who wanted to show solidarity and continue the long fight for equal opportunity in education.
Poland passed a near total abortion ban that resulted in thousands of protesters taking to the streets to fight for women's rights and healthcare rights. Under this new law, abortion can only be performed in cases of rape, incest, or if the mother's life is in danger. This conservative ruling puts Poland in the minority of countries in Europe.
Hopefully, 2021 will be a year that brings positive reform to local and global communities.