Black Lives Matter: Five Turbulent Years in 80 Iconic Images

We've collected 80 of the most powerful Black Lives Matter-related images from the past five years.
00
Black Lives Matter: Five Turbulent Years in 80 Iconic Images Newsweek

On the evening of February 26, 2012, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin left his father's fiancee's house in a gated community in Orlando, Florida, to walk to a nearby 7-Eleven. Returning with a bag of Skittles and a drink, he caught the eye of neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman.

Thinking that Martin looked "suspicious," Zimmerman called the police, and followed the unarmed black teenager. An altercation followed, and Martin was shot dead by Zimmerman.

For America's black community, this incident was more than a tragic misunderstanding. Activists saw Martin's death as part of a wider pattern of discrimination, harassment and deadly violence inflicted on their community, a hangover from America's dark history of slavery and segregation which never fully went away.

Read More: Black Lives Matter Founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors Says Trump Is One Of 'Greatest Threats' To U.S. Democracy

Outrage over Martin's death spread online, and reached fever pitch after Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder in 2013. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter began trending on social media, a counterpoint to some media reports and social media posts which smeared Martin as a "thug," or suggested that black people were responsible for the violence of law enforcement.

Since Martin's death, the movement has protested a number of subsequent killings, such as those of Michael Brown, Laquan McDonald and Eric Garner. The hashtag has spurred offline protests, marches and sit-ins. It has also moved beyond police brutality, and now agitates for the reduction of poverty, the end of the incarceration cycle of black men in the justice system, and better health and education funding.

Since President Donald Trump's election, the movement has taken on a new sense of urgency. Last year saw a number of white supremacist demonstrations and rallies, which were counterprotested by activists.

Like many civil rights protest movements before it, Black Lives Matter has relied on the power of photography and video to spread its powerful message—a plea for humanity in the face of institutional violence. This has been expedited in the digital age, as witnesses can capture on camera violent incidents and self-publish them instantly on social media.

We've collected 80 of the most powerful Black Lives Matter-related images from the past five years, from crowds of protesters engulfed in clouds of tear gas, to heartbreaking funerals of the victims of police shootings.

20130714 keisha
July 14, 2013: Keisha Martin-Hall holds a bag of Skittles during a protest rally in Times Square in New York after George Zimmerman was acquitted of all charges in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin, who was carrying a bag of Skittles when he was shot by the neighborhood watch coordinator. Keith Bedford/Reuters