On paper, 2020 was 12 months, just like any other year. But let’s be real, it felt more like a decade, at least. January was a lifetime ago, back before social distancing, Zoom parties and entire countries shutting down. Those times are but a distant memory, with photos of maskless crowds like relics of a time long past. The biggest story at the beginning of the year – the impeachment of President Donald Trump – was just the first chapter in the epic saga that has been 2020.
The year was pretty terrible for just about everybody but Jeff Bezos. But as always, some people still managed to land some victories in this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. Though don’t worry, some other people probably had an even worse 2020 than you did. And that’s what landed them here, on City & State’s Winners and Losers of the (very unusual) Year.
Black Lives Matter protesters
Black Lives Matter was a prominent social justice movement long before this year, but in 2020, protests against systemic racism and police brutality took on a new force. Following the killings of Black people by police this spring – including George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky – protesters took to the streets across the country, demanding justice: the arrests of the officers involved and wide-scale reform of local police departments. In New York, overwhelmingly peaceful protesters turned out not only in all five boroughs, but large and small cities and towns across the state. Though the movement’s calls for change weren’t answered in their entirety, the state passed a series of police reform measures, including a repeal of 50-a, a provision that kept police personnel records secret, while New York City passed its own measures, including a law banning police chokeholds, and diverted some funds from the NYPD. But organizers say New York still has a long way to go. Activists are calling for more substantial cutbacks to police budgets and for additional reforms, such as limiting police involvement in responding to individuals experiencing mental health crises. While protests have died down since this summer, the Black Lives Matter movement will continue to shape New York policy into the future. “We’re quiet, but we’re not asleep,” Anthonine Pierre, a spokesperson for Communities United for Police Reform, told City & State this fall.