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2020年 7月 15日

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Protests Against Police Violence Erupt in United States

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The death of an African-American man at the hands of police officers in the United States have sparked protests against police violence across the globe, with people taking to the streets and raising their voices to protest systemic racism.

George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man living in Minneapolis, died on May 25 after a police officer handcuffed and pinned him to the ground by placing his knee on Floyd’s neck. This chokehold was applied for over eight minutes, with Floyd telling officers “I can’t breathe.”

Smartphone footage shared on social media and later TV of Floyd’s death at the hands of the police went viral in America, outraging many in the country and abroad at an obvious abuse of power. From the next day, demonstrators in Minneapolis protested against police abuse of black Americans.

In the days that followed, similar protests were organized around the country. Police tried to intimidate protestors, often using force and rubber bullets to try to disperse crowds. A few protestors died from police violence.

The anger at police abuse following Floyd’s death had been simmering for decades, as police have long targeted black Americans unfairly, often killing them with little justification. Similar riots have bubbled up in the past, with a notable string of protests happening in 2015 over a similar case of a black man being murdered by police.

President Donald Trump urged protests to stop, going as far as to tweet out that demonstrators were “thugs” and that “When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” This referred to how some people appeared to be robbing stores in cities with protests, though Trump’s message carried racist undertones.

Protests have continued on in the weeks since, and have even expanded to other countries as people express solidarity with those angry at racism. Organizations such as Black Lives Matter have organized peaceful demonstrations in Tokyo and Osaka, attracting Japanese and non-Japanese participants.

While the protests started as a way to seek change to police practices, it has since resulted in change to almost every aspect of American life.

As discussions about racism in modern America heated up in the days after Floyd’s death, many companies and brands have changed policies that were seen as problematic. Others, such as Nike, started observing the holiday of Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in the U.S.

Editors and executives left positions due to allegations of unfair treatment of black employees. Meanwhile, statues and other monuments to racist Americans have been torn down in recent weeks.

The protests remain ongoing, as are discussions of how to change the country during this moment.
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Key Words and Expressions

  1. protest — a strong complaint or action expressing objection to something
  2. raise one’s voice — to speak in a loud angry way or make your claim public
  3. abuse of power — improper use of authority by people in authority
  4. demonstrator — a participant in marching or gathering to show their opposition to something
  5. simmering — If a negative emotion is simmering, it gets stronger gradually and could burst out at any time.
  6. justification — the action or explanation to show something to be right or reasonable
  7. looting — the activity of stealing goods from shops during a violent event
  8. solidarity — unity or agreement of feeling or action among people
  9. racism — prejudice against a person or people of a particular racial or ethnic group
  10. monument — a statue, building or other structure that is built to honor a special person or event

Reading Comprehension Test

Questions

  1. How did George Floyd’s death spread to people across the world?
    a. The police told the media that they had made a mistake.
    b. Smartphone footage of his death went viral.
    c. Many witnesses told TV news what happened, and it got big from there.
    d. A newspaper broke the story.
  2. Which of the following comments is not true?
    a. The protests over George Floyd’s death are also a response to a long history of police violence against
    blacks.
    b. Protests and demonstrations against police violence have spread beyond just the United States.
    c. Many companies and brands are responding to problematic practices because of the protests.
    d. Donald Trump has said he is supportive of the protests.
  3. How have police largely responded to the protests?
    a. They have been very nice to the protestors.
    b. They have actually joined in the protests and want to make changes too.
    c. They have been very honest about mistakes they have made.
    d. They have used lots of physical force to try to stop protests.
  4. Why are protests happening outside of the United States too?
  5. What is Juneteenth?
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