COVID-19, An Existential Threat to Human Rights Activists

by Jenna Park ’21

Source: Monty for Justice

Published Oct. 10th, 2020

The world is facing an unparalleled crisis. On a scale not seen in over a century, a global public health epidemic is demanding a response with far-reaching implications on our economic, social, and political lives. 

Keeping people safe is a priority. The COVID-19 crisis is at different stages across the globe. Countries have no choice but to adopt extreme safety measures. There is a constant need of awareness to social distance, wear a mask properly, and wash our hands. 

Over the course of this year, new forms of activism for Black Lives Matter (BLM) grew, and a new sense of urgency was established by human rights activists. However, with increasing state government control over their populations, it threatens movements that are vital vehicles for social change.

Although this newfound pandemic has affected activists worldwide, we can even still see our own community working to find solutions. An example of this is Monty for Justice, a student/alumni-led organization founded in June 2020 that has the goal of localizing activism for the BLM Movement “amidst a national outcry against police brutality and systemic racism,” as the organization states on its website.

Monty for Justice held a peaceful protest for BLM on June 7th at Mill Pond Park. With strict social distancing guidelines and masks being required at all times, they led a successful and safe protest in our community. These measures took into consideration the widespread concern – not only locally, but also nationally – about the correlation between the spread of COVID-19 and protests. 

However, there is some good news. Dr. Monique Tello, a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital, states, “We now have data showing that the COVID-19 infection rate among protesters has been remarkably low: 2.5% … with our overall infection rate continuing to decline.” 

This mirrors the nationwide trend among protesters, and here’s why: protests have been held outdoors, and for the most part people have been wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. These findings prove that although it’s risky to hold massive protests across the globe, it is possible to follow the CDC’s (Center for Disease Control) COVID-19 rules and precautions while spreading awareness for human rights.

%d bloggers like this: