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Young Voices Protesting: #16ToVote

Black Lives Matter and police reform protesters marching in Baltimore, Maryland last week. Protests have intensified in Atlanta, Georgia after the death of Rayshard Brooks. (Photo by Kenneth K. Lam & the Baltimore Sun)

Today marks the 22nd day since George Floyd lost his life. The event that sparked protests nationwide has led to three weeks of non-stop protesting, desspite being in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many large cities, including St. Paul, Minnesota, the same state where Floyd lost his life, as well as New York City, Los Angeles and many others have seen mixed results from the protests; some have seen extensive damage from protests and looters to police forces showing solidarity with protesters, often posing in photos kneeling with them.

With many Confederate monuments also being toppled at the same time while cities are seeing some slight changes in how police departments are handling emergency calls, one would assume that there is move towards a calmer environment.

Since then, protests have only intensified further after the death of another African-American this past weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. Rayshard Brooks has been the latest casualty in the growing voice of protests and calls to again reform police. Like Minneapolis last month, Atlanta experienced a storm of destruction. Protests continue throughout the U.S. and have largely been peaceful since those responsible for George Flyod’s death have been charged. Nonetheless, it seems unlikely that protests will go away anytime soon.

At the same time, youth contributions have been overlooked, as many of the protest movements themselves are led and populated by younger organizers, like A’niya Taylor. Taylor, who is 16 and a student of Baltimore City College high school, recently worked with the Baltimore School for the Arts in a recent protest last week, who argued for better historical curriculum in schools that provide accurate portrayals of race and racism in the context of history. “It is time we rebuild the foundation of what this country was built on,” Taylor declared. Indeed, voices like Taylor’s are calling not just for police reform, but an educational one as well.

As protests continue to occur, voices like A’niya Taylor’s also represent the ever growing youthfulness of the movement, Very few places in the world, let alone the United States, allow 16 year-olds to vote. Ironically, there’s no law that prohibits 16-year olds from protesting. We’ve seen this with March For Our Lives, Climate Change and now, police reform.

Clearly, rebuilding can only happen when you bring people from all walks of life and experience to the table. This includes all taxpayers, especially those who are 16 years-old and still don’t have a voice and vote. If they can organize a protest to fight for things like climate, police reform and support movements like Black Lives Matter, they certainly deserve to have a vote so they can make real change happen.

Jester Jersey

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