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2020 Black Lives Matter Protests, 2020

In the spring of 2020, amidst a global pandemic, a number of acts of violence against black people took place across the country. On February 23, 2020, 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, when he was pursued and confronted by three white men who shot and killed him. On March 13, 2020, a 26-year-old emergency medical technician, Breonna Taylor, was shot and killed while sleeping in her home when Louisville, KY police executed a no-knock warrant targeting other individuals who were not present. Taylor was killed when gunfire was exchanged between her boyfriend and the officers, whom he believed to be intruders. On May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill. A white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes while three other officers assisted in restraining Floyd.

Arbery’s, Taylor’s, and Floyd’s deaths sparked nationwide protests and a renewed interest in and support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Over 60 countries internationally and over 2,000 cities in the US held demonstrations, the majority of which were peaceful. Looting and rioting did take place in Minneapolis and other cities across the country, including Raleigh and Fayetteville, NC. Some protests were met with significant police brutality, often against peaceful protestors and reporters. By June 3, over 200 cities had imposed curfews and more than 30 states had activated over 62,000 National Guard personnel to quell the unrest.

Durham residents also participated in protests that remained peaceful. The daily protests continued for several weeks and were a noticeable contrast to the more violent protests in other North Carolina cities and across the country. Many credit this to the organization and leadership of Durham’s protestors, as well as the low profile that Durham police kept throughout the protests. Mayor Steve Schewel said, "the philosophy and practices of our police force were important in keeping the peace. They have been non-confrontational and supportive of free speech and the right to assemble."

As part of the response to the killing of George Floyd, many local Durham artists painted murals on boarded up storefronts throughout downtown.

A mural with a blue background displaying buildings, raised "power" fists as flowers, a bull, and the words "Black Lives Matter," "A change will come," and "No justice no peace."

"A Bull's City" by Mack Wilson-Leigh, Eric Cabbell, Jr. and other members of the Raleigh Art Night group. The artwork was located at The Oak House at 126 West Main Street. Photographer: Elizabeth Shulman . Downtown Durham Protest Murals (NCC.0238), North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library, NC . Photo ID: mss_0238_012

The silhouette of a black person tangled in the American flag.

Mural by Matthew White and Megan Elizabeth Easterling. Photograph was taken on Main Street near 9th Street Bakery. Photographer: Elizabeth Shulman . Downtown Durham Protest Murals (NCC.0238), North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library, NC . Photo ID: mss_0238_046

A mural with a black woman depicted as lady justice holding scales with the words "no justice no peace" and a red banner above her head displaying the words "black lives matter."

"Black Lives Matter" by Wade H. Williams. Mural located at M Pocha at 101 East Chapel Hill Street.   Photographer: Elizabeth Shulman . Downtown Durham Protest Murals (NCC.0238), North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library, NC . Photo ID: mss_0238_065

A man's face made up of colorful geometric shapes with a single tear in his eye with the words "we are George Floyd."

"We Are George Floyd" by Kimberly Pierce Wright. Mural located at M Pocha at 101 E Chapel Hill Street.   Photographer: Elizabeth Shulman . Downtown Durham Protest Murals (NCC.0238), North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library, NC . Photo ID: mss_0238_066

Three window panels with yellow paper hanging in them. Names of black people murdered by police are written on the paper. The words "Black Lives Matter" are painted in red across the windows.A colorful spray painted mural containing flowers, a woman's face, and hearts.A white background with flowers and the words "black flowers blooming look in your mirror: it's me unending love: change your neighbor is you the dream remember? touch through black love changes all"A sign addressing Black Durham and Black artists.A spray painted black man in the style of a comic book superhero. It is made to look like electricity is coming out of his hands. On the sidewalk in front of the mural are vinyl album covers of black musicians. Three vertical panels depicting poetry, a vertical mouth and the face of a black woman, and a tally of hash marks.A blue mural with clouds and the words "Hate breeds war" and "Love breeds peace."A red mural depicting James Baldwin and the words "the power of the white world is threatened whenever a black person refuses to accept the white world's definition. - James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time."A mural depicting a black woman in a white graduation cap and gown wearing a mask over her face. Lyrics by rapper Notorious BIG are shown: "stay far timid only make moves when your hearts in it & live the phrase 'skys the limit.'" A small white piece of paper attached to a large board covering a window with the words "Black lives do matter."Colorful geometric shapes in the background with images of black men, women, and children embracing. A large white mural with hearts, clouds, eyes, and a rainbow and the words "healing here waking ancestors speaking one strong ready."An mural with abstract swirls of red and blue intertwined with the words "black joy matters."The faces of a black man and woman made to appear as though light is shining from their eyes. The words "royalty," "we don't die we multiply," and "we need you to feel us, not just hear us!" appear. The images of black faces with a crown and the words "still searching 4 soul city."A white background with the words "time does not heal all wounds" painted in yellow.The faces of Emmett Till, Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown as angels and the words "The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution. - Dr. Huey P. Newton."A solid red wall with the face of a black woman and the words "humanize blackness."The profiles of a row of people holding hands painted in red with trees on either side of them and the words "symbol of life and possibility in landscape where little else can thrive" and "in times of crisis the wise build bridges."An image of a milk carton with the words "BLM, Missing Justice Share if Found, 100% daily value of necessary" next to a list of names of black people murdered by police and the words "some but not all."An image of a black man with a halo and tears pouring out of his eyes with a snake pictured around him, also crying.An image made to look like the sun with a yellow circle containing the words "black is beautiful." The names of black people murdered by police point out from the circle like rays of light. The hashtag #saytheirnames appears at the bottom of the mural.A collage of repeating signs that say "Guilty: Kops Kovid Kapitalism (KKK).A collage of photographs of black men and women, some shown protesting, some shown in portraits with family and friends.A mural depicting raised "power" fists and the words "black lives matter," "say their names," and "all power to the people."A wide shot showing multiple murals on storefronts and windows. Some of the words shown are "Killed by Durham Police," "Killed in Jail," "Imagine a World Without Police," "Every little thing is gonna be alright," and "Black as Eva."A red mural with the silhouette of a black man and woman with crowns, handprints all around them, and the hashtag #blm. Above that is a blue sky with clouds and the words "There comes a time when silence is betrayal - MLK."A mural displaying a photograph of Breonna Taylor with a halo around her head and the words "say her name."