The Black Lives Matter movement was not new in 2020, but it was the year it took over the nation and reached across the world. The death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25 spurred protest not only in that city but all around the U.S., and those protests continued for days, and then weeks. When the death of Breonna Taylor gained nationwide attention—she was killed in may by Louisville police who raided her home, but the case didn’t become a national story until March—it became yet another reason for people to keep taking to the streets.
On June 6, less than two weeks after Floyd’s death, half a million people turned out for protests in nearly 550 places across the country, according to the New York Times. That was the peak, but protests continued throughout the summer. By some estimates, more than 26 million people participated. These photos, from photo agency Getty, show those actions.
These protests looked different from ones in years past not only because of the size and signs and subject matter, but because of how, in the background, the COVID-19 pandemic continued. Protestors wore masks and passed out PPE to marchers. Signs that read “I can’t breathe” seemed to speak both to Floyd’s death and the death of thousands, particularly Black and brown Americans, from the coronavirus.