#BackChannel: Processing Protests And Police Violence On Top Of A Pandemic

Jun 2, 2020

The George Floyd Memorial at Chicago Avenue and 38th Street in Minneapolis.
Credit Creative Commons

As of June 2, The Washington Post reports on-duty police officers have shot and killed 422 people in 2020 — on par with the average number of fatal police shootings in the U.S. despite the way the coronavirus pandemic has changed or slowed down everyday life. 

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis is a flashpoint and sparked protests across the nation over the weekend. In many communities, police officers donned riot gear and used tear gas, rubber bullets and other means to subdue those demonstrating — and peaceful protests turned violent, leading to fires, broken windows and vandalism.

On this edition of #BackChannel, host Frank Stasio talks to pop culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal about the protests, the police response and how communities are reacting to the most recent victims of police brutality: Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. They also discuss the pain of this recent violence in addition to the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on African Americans.

Natalie Bullock Brown is a filmmaker and teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University. Mark Anthony Neal is the James B. Duke Professor and chair of the department of African and African American studies at Duke University.