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

A bus stop is covered with signs, posters and flowers in remembrance of George Floyd, who died in police custody.
Creative Commons
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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.

Amanda Magnus grew up in Maryland and went to high school in Baltimore. She became interested in radio after an elective course in the NYU journalism department. She got her start at Sirius XM Satellite Radio, but she knew public radio was for her when she interned at WNYC. She later moved to Madison, where she worked at Wisconsin Public Radio for six years. In her time there, she helped create an afternoon drive news magazine show, called Central Time. She also produced several series, including one on Native American life in Wisconsin. She spends her free time running, hiking, and roller skating. She also loves scary movies.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.