My name is Amaya Ibañez-Brown, I am 12 years old and live in South Minneapolis. On Tuesday morning, May 26, I heard about the terrible murder of George Floyd. The extent of police brutality in our communities is horrific. At first, I couldn’t believe the way George Floyd had died and that someone could be so racist, so awful. That something like this could happen so close to my house, in the middle of my beloved city of Minneapolis. But after I thought about it, I wasn’t so surprised. I realized that these things happen all the time. Our government and our elected officials have had time to address and time to fix police brutality. We all could have stopped this. The MPD could have stopped this. All I could think about and say was again? Again another Black man was killed by the police? How can we keep letting this happen? It was eye-opening. I realized that this has been happening forever, but never so close to me. I thought about how this had to stop, that drastic changes were needed now. I realized that I wanted to be part of the change and that I couldn’t wait for someone else to make change. I was going to be in this movement. And even though we are in the middle of a pandemic, now is the time to act. All of these thoughts went through my head on Tuesday.

On Wednesday night, the demonstrations started, and I felt an explosion of emotions. I felt adrenaline and power, and I felt that for some people the only way they could be listened to was through protesting and disrupting “normal” activity in our city. People are mad at society. They are protesting because they are challenging what we know and challenging our structure of life. We need to listen to the people demonstrating, because they are correct: we need change. I also felt fear that night because the unrest was very close to my house and was affecting my neighborhood. I can’t see my city be destroyed and see businesses burned to the ground, especially when the businesses that are under attack are the ones from the communities that are already suffering. I don’t like violence and the pain this is creating, causing my mind chaos and division. But I know that our communities are strong, and our city will overcome this. And when there is justice there will be peace. And we will rise from the chaos and ashes to change Minneapolis for the better.

The big thing is that now more than ever I have this gut feeling to stand up to oppression. Georges Floyd’s murder less than a mile from my house changed me. I don’t feel responsible for what’s happening. But I do feel like we are all responsible for demanding change, and I do feel responsible for playing my part in this fight for justice.

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Amaya Ibañez-Brown is 12 years old and lives in South Minneapolis. She is in 7th grade and attends Barton Open school. In her free time she loves to dance, sing, act, do art, play tennis, and especially write. She also loves to go to the beach and spend time with her family and friends. She says, “I am super interested in social justice and want to make a change in the world.”