Throughout history, interest groups have influenced public policy based on a particular interest or concern. An example of an interest group that has been significantly vocal in the 21st century is Black Lives Matter. The group describes itself as a decentralized social movement that advocates for non-violent civil disobedience in protests against incidences of racially motivated violence against black people and police brutality (“Black Lives Matter – Home”, 2020). Although the group is mostly established in the United States, it recognizes and affirms the sanctity of black lives worldwide.
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The power of Black Lives Matter comes from the citizens. When police brutality or racially motivated violence against Black people happens, the group mobilizes citizens to conduct protests worldwide. The group also has established donation channels that willing citizens can contribute to support its cause. Without the power of the masses, the group does not have any significant power. To put this into context, in 2020, an unarmed civilian was murdered by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigerian police. Black Lives Matter responded to the incident by mobilizing young Nigerians through social media platforms and its website to hold protests to denounce years of police brutality, abduction, torture, and killing in the country. The demonstration stands out in history as one of the largest Nigerian demonstration in generations (“Black Lives Matter – Home”, 2020). Therefore, Black Lives Matter draws its power from citizens.
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Over the years, the power of Black Lives Matter has significantly increased. The group has gained power due to the numerous incidences of police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people, especially in the US. For instance, in 2020, the US has seen several events of racially motivated violence and police brutality. The one that stood out the most is the brutal killing of George Floyd, an African-American, by a Minneapolis police officer (“George Floyd: What happened in the final moments of his life”, 2020). The killing led to the “I Can’t Breath” campaign, whereby the slogan was associated with the Black Lives Matter in the US (“‘I can’t breathe’: The refrain that reignited a movement”, 2020).
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Such incidences have caused the group to gain immense power. They provide latitude for it to convince the public that there is an urgent need for policy change, which can only happen if citizens join solidarity to fight police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people. It is worth noting that the group can lose its power if police brutality and racially motivated violence against black people drastically declined or dramatically stopped. Notably, the group would no longer have a cause to defend and, therefore, would lose its power.
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Black Lives Matter, as an interest group, alludes to the need to differentiate between formal and informal interest groups. Notably, formal interest groups are established by organizations to achieve a specific objective (Bellush, 2019). On the other hand, informal interest groups are formed by members of such groups by themselves. As such, informal interest groups emerge naturally in response to the common interests of the group members. For informal groups, they draw their power from citizens while formal group’s power is instilled in their respective organizations (Hanegraaff & Poletti, 2019). From this distinction, Black Lives Matter fits in the informal interest group category.
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