DH Dev. Report #8

Lincoln, Omaha communities clash with law enforcement in ongoing protests |  News | dailynebraskan.com

To connect COVID-19 with Black Lives Matter in Nebraska, this essay will focus on the George Floyd protests that occurred around May-June 2020 in the Lincoln area. This reading is accessible through the ENGL 477 discussion for the class. It is from an outsider perspective recalling the events of the protests through the newspapers.

On May 29 through the 31st of 2020, protests related to the Black Lives Matter movement sparked after George Floyd died in police custody in Minneapolis due to a police officer kneeling on his neck. The organizers held out signs stating, “white silence is violence,” “end white terrorism,” and “justice for George Floyd” to show solidarity for Floyd, his family, and for racism to stop (Pitsch 2020). However, the protest became violent after the Lincoln police with the Nebraska State Patrol used rubber bullets and tear gas on the protesters who were gathered around the busiest intersection in Lincoln. Around nine reports of vandalism, three people arrested, and one woman was injured after being ran over by a vehicle. Chief Jeff Bliemeister states that “we shouldn’t let the violent actions of a very small group of people in Lincoln detract from the overall message…[the violence and destruction] becomes the focus. Not the murder of George Floyd” (Wan and Pilger 2020). One protestor, Dominique Liu-Sang, describes her experience with the demonstrators in the crowd. She states that the protestors were scared with no weapons on their backs, and that they were “more apt to voice our anger and concern, but they weren’t being violent. They weren’t throwing anything. They were just peacefully protesting” (Kelly 2020).

These protests occurred simultaneously alongside the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of staying isolated to avoid the spread, the protestors risked their lives and the lives around them to stand up for an issue they cared deeply about. The issue becomes complicated as the line between safe pandemic procedures and the right to protest blurs with conflict of interest. For these protestors, finding justice for George Floyd outweighed the risk of spreading the disease. In response to the protests around the Lincoln area, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Barid remarks that the “idea that folks (who) have important messages that they should get out, and that their voices need to be heard, may be subjecting themselves to further threats is absolutely painful for all of us to consider” (Basnet 2020). The Mayor encouraged protesters to continue to wear masks and keep their distance between each other to stay safe.

Regarding the readings for this week, focusing on Black Lives Matter protestors is a part of the field of Black studies. Within the “Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities” reading, Gallon describes Black studies as the “comparative study of the black cultural and social experiences under white Eurocentric systems of power in the United States” (Gallon 2016). For these protestors, the Black Lives Matter movement represents need for change in the system to stop oppression against the African American community and a need for the police system to be overhauled.

(505 words)

Bibliography

Basnett, Chris. “Watch Now: Potential COVID-19 Spike a Concern as Protests Continue, Lincoln Mayor Says.” JournalStar.com, August 3, 2020. https://journalstar.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/watch-now-potential-covid-19-spike-a-concern-as-protests-continue-lincoln-mayor-says/article_19ca8e35-e959-5d18-886b-18d77f9db6c0.html.

Gallon, Kim. “Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016: 4. Making a Case for the Black Digital Humanities.” Debates in the Digital Humanities 2016, 2016. https://dhdebates.gc.cuny.edu/read/untitled/section/fa10e2e1-0c3d-4519-a958-d823aac989eb (Links to an external site.).

Kelly, Bill. “Arrest in Lincoln Will Not Deter Black Lives Matter Protester.” netnebraska.org, June 23, 2020. http://netnebraska.org/article/news/1225280/arrest-lincoln-will-not-deter-black-lives-matter-protester.

Pitsch, Madison. “Protesters in Lincoln Show Solidarity with George Floyd.” https://www.1011now.com, 2020. https://www.1011now.com/content/news/George-Floyd-Protests–570878351.html.

Wan, Justin, and Lori Pilger. “WATCH NOW: City Officials Call for Calm after Protest in Lincoln Turns Violent Overnight.” JournalStar.com, July 9, 2020. https://journalstar.com/news/local/protest-in-lincoln-turns-violent-overnight/article_c2e6fdcf-fc58-5786-9c31-68ee2c364e23.html.

DH Dev. Report #6

Documenting the impact of the Coronavirus in Downtown Lincoln

CLICK HERE for the StoryMap

For one of the programs of this project, I decided to use StoryMap. The use of StoryMap allows this project to display images in a way that documents my trip around the downtown area during COVID-19. Unlike simply displaying the images, this map method allows users to walk around areas where they would most likely find reminders that the pandemic has impacted Lincoln. My StoryMap starts from where I was dropped off by the bus nearby the YMCA all the way to various shops around the area. By documenting the images this way, it feels more like a story of how some areas of downtown are handling the restrictions better than others. While a lot of the businesses were closed due to COVID-19, they started opening back up and displaying messages informing customers that not only are they back in business, but that they are required to follow procedure to go inside.

(152 words)

Here is the metadata for the provided pictures:

For help documenting the number of people there were in the Downtown Lincoln area, I decided to use the traditional method of pen, pencil, and paper to draw a graph. Since I did not want to copy the StoryMap method of creating a drawing involving locations, the graph method would show another aspect of COVID-19 impact on the downtown area by comparing two groups without the need of a website to do so. When I used to go downtown, there were usually a lot of people walking around. Documenting for this project, however, there were barely any people outside in the hour I walked around. On the left are the number of people who were outside wearing masks, and on the right are the number of people who were not wearing one at all. By comparing mask users to no mask users, we can see how not having a mandatory mask requirement outdoors leads people to refuse to wear them.

(160 words)

DH Dev. Report #4

Observing the Impact of the Coronavirus in Downtown Lincoln

Explore downtown Lincoln at Downtown 101 | News | dailynebraskan.com
Courtesy photo

Limited protections against COVID-19 required by Lincoln leads to the downtown area requiring masks indoors but very limited precautions when it comes to the outdoors areas. Exploring the impact of COVID-19 on the downtown Lincoln area will help with comparing it to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln impact because it allows for multiple perspectives on the whole of Lincoln’s handling of the pandemic.

COVID-19 has impacted downtown Lincoln in a limited way. The majority of businesses require mask usage when visiting their buildings, but do not specifically require them outside, not do they actively encourage social distancing procedures around the area. For downtown, Lincoln is doing the bare minimum required for such a widespread pandemic. As a result, the majority of people I saw on my observations did not wear masks, did not practice safe social distancing procedures purposefully, and acted as if a pandemic was not occurring in the outdoors. When I looked in the windows of a few stores, the people inside were wearing their masks like they should be. This dissonance does not keep everyone safe.

As found in Chapter 31, Hunter et al. explains how “encouraging people to experience culture from different perspectives is a core value: we seek to enrich the object of study by layering multiple, simultaneous, valid interpretations onto it.” By experiencing Lincoln through both the Downtown and the University campus, we are able to compare how the two areas are handling the pandemic in a way that shows how our culture is varied. People look at how the campus actively encourages health and hygiene practices by putting hand sanitizer stations, various social distancing reminders, and reminders to wear masks. On the other hand, downtown Lincoln does not actively encourage it outside, and instead presents its reminders with various signs supporting mask usage. Those that support mask usage and social distancing would believe that Lincoln in general is not doing enough to handle the pandemic, while those that object to the masks would say the University campus is over exaggerating the problem. Knowing ahead of time the assignment for comparing the downtown campus impacted how my observations would be handled. Instead of focusing on the outside and the inside places like I did on campus, I focused primarily on the outside. I also relied on both the people and the outside environment for my observations of downtown instead of just relying on the people themselves.