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What's behind the movement sparked by George Floyd's death

Posted at 5:27 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 18:27:53-04

WACO, TX — As the nation fought off the coronavirus, it also came face to face with a disturbing video of a black man being killed by a police officer.

The peaceful protests in Waco, like others around the country, sought to give voice to a story of injustice. But why the George Floyd story?

Experts say it has a lot to do with the perfect storm of Floyd’s death caught on camera, a pandemic that had us anxious to get outdoors and people less willing to put up with what they called extreme and unnecessary measures.​

Some said protests seemed to get bigger and more vocal every day.​

But Baylor Professor and Journalism chair Mia Moody-Ramirez stood at the suspension bridge and noticed something about the people in these demonstrations.​

"Were they the crowd that you expected? No, they were not. They were young, many of them were still in high school. It was very diverse, I would say, primarily anglo," she said.​

Groups not known for marching took to the streets, supported by a flood of social media posts.​

What motivated these people to protest the death of George Floyd specifically?​

Jo Welter of the Community Race Relations Coalition of Central Texas says the viral video of Floyd weighed heavily on people.​

"This just became the tipping point where people had had enough," she explained.​

Floyd's death was also accompanied by the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, she says, and it provided the final straw.​

"We've had many situations and many events and occurrences, that have made people think about this more regularly, which makes a huge difference," said Welter.​

And all those people gathered in the middle of a pandemic, risking their health in a way, for free speech.​

"We don't know if it's because of COVID-19, so we do get the sense that this time - it's different," said Dr. Moody-Ramirez.​

"A lot of people would not risk going out if it weren't for the real motivation meaning they want to make a difference," added Welter.​

The protesters are calling for change after one pandemic helped them see another.

"People get upset, they protest, and then a few weeks later it goes back to the way it was. You know, just when you think there's going to be change," said Moody-Ramirez.​

"It's really intolerable and it has become so intolerable that it really is the time, maybe, for change," said Welter.​

And while we can change laws and training, changing our attitudes takes effort and time.​

"Racism is a pandemic, this is one thing that I've told people, we know that eventually, we will get a cure for the COVID-19 Pandemic, but will we ever have one for racism?" asked Moody-Ramirez.​

The George Floyd case has already sparked a police reform bill in congress, and it has brought more discussion of race in this county.