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Ellen Pompeo wants to know why police are carrying machine guns at anti-racism protests

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Kayleigh Dray
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“At the Women’s March, there were no machine guns,” notes Ellen Pompeo. “At Pride marches, there were no machine guns. But the Black Lives Matter march? Machine guns everywhere.”

On Monday 25 May, George Floyd was killed when police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the handcuffed man’s neck for at least eight minutes.

Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder. Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who helped restrain Floyd, and Tou Thao, who stood near the others during his killing, have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

In a statement, governor Tim Walz said the charges “are a meaningful step toward justice for George Floyd.”

However, with thousands across the USA taking to the streets in protest against systemic racism and the repeated failure of America’s policing system, Walz added: “We must also recognise that the anguish driving protests around the world is about more than one tragic incident.

“George Floyd’s death is the symptom of a disease. We will not wake up one day and have the disease of systemic racism cured for us. This is on each of us to solve together, and we have hard work ahead. We owe that much to George Floyd, and we owe that much to each other.”

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In light of this, Grey’s Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo has shared an observation she made whilst attending a Los Angeles march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“I’ve been to other protests,” she said, in a video shared via her Instagram page. “There were no National Guard with guns, with machine guns, there were no police with machine guns [at these rallies].

“I’ve never seen police with machine guns. I’ve never seen the National Guard with machine guns. We’re at a march for black lives, and we’re here to talk about the fact that they matter. And there’s machine guns – big ones – and aggression.”

Anti-racism protests: police watch as tear gas is deployed during demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death on 31 May 2020 in Santa Monica, California.
Anti-racism protests: police watch as tear gas is deployed during demonstrations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death on 31 May 2020 in Santa Monica, California.

Pompeo continued: “They’re on rooftops, they’re in cars, they’re in tanks. And I haven’t ever seen that show of force and that show – not that it’s as forceful as a lot that we’ve seen, but, I mean, we’re in the middle of the day here. And, at other protests, I’ve never seen that amount of ammunition.

“So, I’m just wondering why that is? At the Women’s March, there were no machine guns. At Pride marches, there were no machine guns. But the Black Lives Matter march? Machine guns everywhere.

“I don’t know. You tell me.”

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Finishing on a more hopeful note, Pompeo added that she had a good day “letting people know that they matter.”

“Love you all,” she said, signing off.

To paraphrase what we’ve said before, it’s worth remembering that non-black people need to educate themselves, listen more, and learn how to be a better ally in the fight against racism.

Here are just a few of the ways we can all do this:

How to support Justice for George Floyd:

Further charities and organisations to engage with:

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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