By Janell Rosee & Wesley Lowery
In recent years, policing has been among the nation’s most visible issues as people outraged by use of force and racial disparities in punishment took to the streets under the “Black Lives Matter” banner. But activists say the movement’s efforts have entered a new phase — one more focused on policy than protest — prompted by the election of President Trump.
“What people are seeing is that there are less demonstrations,” said Alicia Garza, one of three women credited with coining the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag. “A lot of that is that people are channeling their energy into organizing locally, recognizing that in Trump’s America, our communities are under direct attack.”
Activists say they’re no less aware of those statistics than in years past. But like most of the political left, they were stunned by Trump’s electoral victory in November. And in the months since, they’ve grappled with the role of an antiracism movement at a time when political threats to other groups — immigrants, Muslims and women — have gained urgency and pushed more progressives into the streets in protest.
In interviews, more than half a dozen leaders in the Black Lives Matter movement said that last year’s presidential election prompted renewed focus on supporting other minority groups as well as amassing electoral power to fight an administration that has pledged to roll back Obama-era efforts to reshape policing practice. Those leaders — who hail from various factions of the decentralized movement of individuals and organizations that have, at times, clashed — said the reality of Trump’s presidency has forced a reconsideration of strategy.
“There was a lot of regrouping that had to happen within our movement and on the broader left to really think strategically,” said Asha Rosa, the national organizing co-chair for the Black Youth Project 100.