As a regular feature of the Climate Stew Show, we include That Day in Climate History, a broadcast from the year 2165 that looks at the past and our successful responses to climate change. Sometimes the segments seem silly (Celebrities of the Future, Pets of the Future) but often we raise the serious issues of earthlings taking on new roles in a changing world. After reading Brentin Mock’s series of articles for Grist that look at the intersection of justice, environmental movement, and climate change, in Episode 26, we consider the #BlackLivesMatter Movement and its impact in times of extreme weather.
Reporting from the year 2165 Timothy Meadows reflects on the Black Lives Matter Movement and the positive effect it had on changing policing policies. Black citizens experienced human rights abuses during Hurricane Katrina and other natural and manmade disaster. The Black Lives Matter Movement not only made the streets safely on a day-to-day basis, but in the 2030s during a string of extreme weather events, better policing practices protected citizens in times of crises.
That Day in Climate History
I am Timothy Meadows. It is Saturday May 18th 2165 and time for That Day in Climate History.
Nearly 164 years ago on September 11th, 2001 a group of terrorists attacked the United States. In reaction the US government ramped up its anti-terrorism efforts and started a series of protracted and mostly fruitless foreign wars that did little in the end to bring any lasting peace or stability.
Domestically the US also created a department they called Homeland Security. In addition to protecting the US borders from those who would choose to harm citizens, Homeland Security oversaw FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. With a new emphasis on national security, the role of FEMA expanded and militarized and included protecting property as well as people with disastrous consequences. This was most sharply felt in New Orleans in 2005 in the aftermath of a hurricane called Katrina.
The federal government responded with military force. As a result, those who did not have a chance to evacuate or chose to stay behind, mostly poor, working class, and Black citizens, experienced human rights abuses at the hands of their own government. What started out as a natural disaster became a man-made catastrophe. The existing prejudices and injustices only magnified with the mega storm.
Nearly 10 years later after a string of incidents in which police officers, mostly white, killed Black citizens during arrest or in custody, the Black Lives Matter movement formed demanding robust changes to policing practice including body cameras for all officers and independent prosecutors to investigate when a law enforcer is implicated in a crime. The relentless efforts of these protesters helped bring about lasting reforms to the criminal justice system including more humane sentencing laws, greater oversight of police forces, and integrated community involvement in decision. These reforms made the country safer for people of color including transgender and queer people who had been unfairly treated by police.
Because of the foundation of justice and fairness laid by the Black Lives Matter Movement, later, in the 2030s, during a string of extreme weather events that rocked the USA, measures were already in place that protected citizens during a time of disaster. While there were storms as big and bigger than Katrina, and still isolated incidents of police brutality and injustice, a systemic change had been made that forever bettered policing practices in the USA. On this day in 2165 we remember That Day in Climate History
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