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George Floyd's death: 'This is why we are protesting'

Probal Rashid | District of Columbia, United States

Name: Ashley Battle-Chan
Age: 24
Occupation: Teacher
Date and Place the photo was taken: June 19, 2020, Black Lives Matter Plaza, Washington D.C.

Her Statement: "This protest is a true embodiment of the power in numbers, unity and faith in God. I truly believe that everything that is taking place is God perfect timing and the end result will bring forth real change greater than anyone could ever think or imagine. In the moment my natural reaction is to always show my pride and love for my blackness. But it doesn’t always eliminate the conflicting things that run through my mind seeing that I’m fighting a fight that my 100 year old aunt, too experienced."

A U.S. police officer’s killing of George Floyd, an African American man in Minnesota, on May 25 has sparked protests not only throughout the United States, but also around the world against racial injustice and police brutality. People have been gathering en masse for the first time in months since COVID-19 stay-at-home orders rippled throughout the world. They're mad about George Floyd but it runs deeper than that. They're also incensed by the killings of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Philando Castile, Walter Scott, and the many, many other black people who have died in police shootings. Now as protests spread across America and internationally to demand justice for Floyd, those final words have made their way onto coronavirus masks. The face mask, once just the symbol of a virus that attacks the lungs, has become a protest sign of anti-racism.

I have been covering the protest in Washington DC since Floyd’s death and I asked the protestors a common question – why are they protesting? They all wore face masks with anti-racist slogans or signs printed on the masks. I took their portraits on the road Black Lives Matter Plaza that was renamed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on June 5. It is a two block-long section of 16th street NW in Downtown Washington DC near the White House. Before it was renamed, Black Lives Matter Plaza was already a gathering place for activists, largely because of its proximity to the White House. Over the summer, the space has taken on a meaning of its own. Some people come to protest, some people bring their children to educate them and some come to take in the mural. My main goal is to convey their statements worldwide.

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