By Jacqueline Quynh

DENVER (CBS4)– With waves of protests and demands for justice in the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police continuing, the pages of history are currently being written.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen links arms with people protesting the death of George Floyd on June 1, 2020 in Denver. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Over the past week, there have been stories and images of peaceful protests as well as unrest, with some opportunists vandalizing and looting businesses. And all of it will be part of this chapter in time. Yet historians and those in the teaching profession have already been taking notes, and plan to teach about what’s happened to students in the next term.

CBS4 talked with Dr. Apryl Alexander at the University of Denver. She’s a professor of forensic psychology and teaches about the history of the criminal justice system.

“This is easily going to go into my curriculum with students, we often talk about systemic oppression, marginalization of people of color and police ties into this nicely. For me, I’m really going to talk about this in terms of what the impact is on communities of color, the societal impacts of these inequities on individuals both from a psychological perspective and a physical perspective.”

Apryl Alexander (credit: CBS)

Alexander also said communities of color have been talking about the use of excessive force and discrimination by police for decades, but because there is such clear evidence in George Floyd’s death, it may lead to a key turning point in history.

“What we saw over the last few days is a lot of people getting out and protests. We haven’t seen that in quite some time. I think the biggest that we’ve seen was maybe for Trayvon Martin prior to that thinking about Rodney King. And so, what was Rodney King to us, that was kind of one of the first incidents on video tape of police brutality so we are revisiting it again. So I think the movement is getting re-energized again and more people are paying attention.”

In a lot of ways, she said, the civil rights movement has yet to end, and Floyd’s death only helped to show how far it still needs to go. She hopes people will not be poor students of history because if policies and attitudes don’t change, some of the things happening in the past few weeks will repeat again far into the future.

Jacqueline Quynh


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