Breaking Point: Black Lives Taken That Pushed America to the Brink

You know their names... perhaps you've forgotten their stories. They demand to be remembered

The idea that Black lives have long been undervalued in America comes as no surprise to most Black men and women you would speak to. The lives cut short at police hands rattle too easily off the tongue. Abner Louima, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Laquan McDonald, Akai Gurley, Freddie Gray.

There are so many names sometimes they threaten to blur, as one tragedy collides into the next... Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Botham Jean, Terrence Crutcher, Breonna Taylor.

Some, like Oscar Grant, are commemorated in film, "Fruitvale Station"; others, like Amadou Diallo, are memorialized in song, Bruce Springsteen's "American Skin (41 Shots)." Many resulted in protests and marches demanding change, mostly peaceful but that sometimes have led to violent unrest and clashes with police. Some leave in their wake chants such as "Hands Up. Don't Shoot" or "I Can't Breathe," while far too many come and go with no press or fanfare at all.

As the tragic death of George Floyd brings the nation to what some hope may finally be an inflection point, what follows is a list, in no way comprehensive, of a small percentage of Black lives cut short. Each life was different, but in death nearly all share a tragic commonality, they died prematurely, and most at police hands amid demands for reform.

These are their stories.

These are the Black Americans whose deaths or brutalization under police custody have led to calls for change. Click on each to read their story.

Editor's note: Although Rodney King, Travyon Martin and Ahmaud Arbery did not die at the hands of police, they are included here as each have sparked widespread calls for social change and reform with their deaths.

Who have we missed? Let us know here.

Editing by Andrew V. Pestano.

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