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One year ago today, for our nation and for all the world to see, George Floyd was horrifically, callously, and diabolically murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis. What this murder sparked has been called a racial reckoning, an inflection point, and even a time to fish or cut bait in which millions across America couldn’t help but be shocked out of a slumber. Millions couldn’t help but observe that pro quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, vilified for kneeling on a football field in order to call attention to the issues of racial inequities and police brutality, had been extremely on point. The film of the prone and handcuffed, Mr. Floyd being brutally murdered in plain sight on street pavement by a police officer kneeling on his neck was a stark and shocking side-by-side image.

Thousands rallied and marched in Bozeman (and across Montana) in support of Black lives and in protest of police brutality while calling for reforms in policing that would stop the beatings, tasing, and killings of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in Montana and across the country.

Hundreds of people, both BIPOC and not, reached out to The Montana Racial Equity Project (based in Bozeman but working the entire state) to thank us for our advocacy and to express support for our mission. BIPOC have been looking for community in which to find support and solidarity. Non-melanated folks have been looking to become more knowledgeable about the breadth, depth, and manifestations of individual, systemic, and structural racism – how to stop it, repair the destruction, and move forward with a strong racial equity lens and purpose. And literally hundreds of individuals, organizations, and businesses donated their time, talent, and treasure to help us succeed in our mission (thank you!).

Where do we, as Montanans stand now? Have we slacked off? Has finally coming out of pandemic-induced isolation and the guilty verdict in the murder of George Floyd caused Bozemanites and Montanans to become slack about ever-present injustice and inequities towards BIPOC? To some degree — yes. To this, we say do not let the verdict on the murder of George Floyd let you drop into complacency.

The horrible deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Daunte Wright, Andrew Brown, Matthew Williams, Kurt Reinhold, Ma’Khia Bryant and hundreds more at the hands of law enforcement and our carceral system, go unchallenged. This state and country are indeed in a racial reckoning to change the systems, structures, policies, and procedures which produce these so-called “legal” deaths.

The Civil Rights Movement continues to energize in all the ways that racial inequities and injustices need to be addressed. The Montana Racial Equity Project is here for it and, with your support, will continue to be until we are fixed. Let’s make sure that we all can breathe and that George Floyd’s cry for his mama will not have been in vain.

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Judith Heilman is the executive director of the Montana Racial Equity Project.

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