What George Floyd Protestors Around the Country Want in Order to End Demonstrations

Crowds took to the streets nearly a week ago in a rage after the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, but as the protests move into their next phase, the question of what it will it take to quell them—what exactly that would look like—is gaining new urgency.

The answer is both simple and complicated. Above all, the protesters say they are looking for justice. But what justice looks like varies by city, by incident, and according to the community's history with police.

Protesters in major cities across the country told Newsweek protests will continue for the foreseeable future with the outcome tied to what reforms and serious efforts are made to combat police brutality. Organizers acknowledged, however, they cannot last forever, and activism will continue even once fierce protests die down. Activists added that once the intense daily protests fade, the job of forcing police departments to adopt the reforms they've been calling for for years will continue.

"Most of us are not sleeping at night since May 25," Michelle Gross, president of Minneapolis-based Communities United Against Police Brutality, told Newsweek."That's not sustainable. I keep telling people I'm an organizer for protests, but also an organizer once the protests are over. When this is over don't go home and say 'I did my bit.'"

In Minneapolis, where officer Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Floyd, protestors are looking for police reforms in a city where more than 60 percent of victims in Minneapolis police shootings from 2009 to 2019 were black.

Gross's group sent Newsweek an unpublished, 19-page document with their recommendations, including requiring police to carry their own professional liability insurance, robust civilian oversight of police, and a disciplinary reset mechanism.

The group said the disciplinary measures, including termination, are often reduced in arbitration through an argument that this conduct didn't lead to discipline in the past. The reset mechanism means that use-of-force policies would be revamped "with clear consequences for violations and a declaration that past practices no longer apply."

"This work will last until systemic racism is uprooted in police departments across America," Nekima Levy, a Minneapolis civil rights lawyer and Black Lives Matter activist, told Newsweek about her expectation for how long the protests will continue. "Until they change training procedures, criteria for evaluating police officer candidates, provide psychological evaluations once a year, and root out officers with domestic violence issues, you're going to continue seeing these problems."

In New York City, activists called for Mayor Bill de Blasio to defund police, with $1 billion in the NYPD budget being targeted by activists, as well as lawmakers, and even those close to de Blasio. Similar demands have been made in other major cities, such as Chicago.

Comptroller Scott Stringer wrote a letter asking for the NYPD budget to be slashed by $1.1 billion over four years, to go instead to communities that have disproportionately been affected by police brutality issues and the coronavirus outbreak. More than 200 current and former de Blasio staffers also asked for the $1 billion cut, but for 2021 alone.

"Where we are right now with all four cops charged and arrested, that's just the beginning because George Floyd's arrest never should have happened," Nelini Stamp of the Working Families Party, told Newsweek. The party is coordinating with Black Lives Matter organizers and calling to defund the NYPD by $1 billion as part of a 110-group coalition led by Communities United for Police Reforms. They argue that the money could be invested in social service and safety net programs, instead.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he would not be adding the more than $600 million to the LAPD budget that was planned, with $100 million to $150 million being stripped from the budget. Altogether, Garcetti said $250 million from the budget would be reallocated to communities of color to "invest in jobs, in education and healing."

Carmen Perez, is in the unique position of coordinating protests with her group Justice League in New York and in Los Angeles, where she has been living during the pandemic. She also works with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, which has called for defunding police, closing down jails, and demanding Los Angeles district attorney Jackie Lacey resign because of her record around prosecuting cases involving LAPD officers.

Pointing out that the NYPD handed out summonses to blacks and Latinos, while white people in parks received masks, Perez told Newsweek the COVID-19 outbreak has fueled the protests around the country because people are home and cannot turn a blind eye to their social media feeds and TVs.

"We're all home due to COVID, we can't ignore it. It's been shock after shock after shock and in black communities that have been over-policed during COVID, you're beginning to see this escalation," she said.

Chicago activists are also pushing for police reform, centered on enacting Civilian Police Accountability Council legislation. One petition—which has garnered 60,000 supporters—calls for the city council to have the ability to hire and fire the police superintendent, the head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, members of the police board, and determine Chicago police policy, including disciplinary measures and the firing of officers and convening of grand juries.

Campaign Zero, led by Ferguson protester DeRay Mckesson, launched an 8CantWait campaign Wednesday with eight policies the group says have been proven to decrease police violence by 72 percent, including banning strangleholds and chokeholds, requiring de-escalation and a warning before shooting, banning shooting at moving vehicles, and exhausting all alternatives before shooting.

Some activists like Gross say they don't plan to continue marching for the rest of their lives, highlighting the urgency of the work ahead of them, but others say that's exactly why they're in the fight, despite worries that President Donald Trump's law and order approach to having the military stamp out protests in American cities could lead to a long, hot, dangerous summer of protest.

"We can not just stop with a few reforms around policing," Tanya Watkins, lead director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation in Chicago, told Newsweek. "The entire system has to be admonished and dismantled and that is long-term work."

"It's going to be a consistent summer of action," Perez, who protested the deaths of Eric Garner in New York and Mike Brown in Ferguson, said. "A righteous summer—because what happened to George Floyd is not new to us."

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MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA - JUNE 3: People visit a memorial at the site where George Floyd was killed on June 3, 2020, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Floyd died while in police custody on May 25, after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for nine minutes while detaining him. Today Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced that charges of aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter had been filed against 3 former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao in Floyd's death. Ellison also announced that charges against Chauvin were upgraded to second-degree murder. Scott Olson/Getty Images/Getty