Biggest News Events of the Decade

1. Mass Shootings: From the shooting at Hartford Distributor in 2010 killing eight and injuring two, as the decade progressed, mass shootings had seemingly become more frequent, deadly, and most of all – heartbreaking. Whether taking place at a school (Sandy Hook 2012, Parkland 2018, and Sante Fe 2018), a movie theater (Aurora, Colorado 2012), a place of worship (Charleston 2015), a party (Orlando Nightclub 2016 and San Bernardino 2015), a concert (Las Vegas Shooting 2017), or even a shopping center (El Paso 2019), people seemingly felt more unsafe and fearful, as these tragedies were sprawled across our television screens or directly affecting our communities.

This has created a movement of survivors (directly and indirectly) to fight for change and usher in a new era of young activism. This was seen in town hall meetings, push for legislation, and even how mental health was viewed. Yet, the overarching theme of these various mass shootings was focused on gun control and the legitimacy of enacting specific laws (stricter gun ownership) or leaving the laws as they are (looser gun ownership). Regardless of political parties or opinions, America has been reshaped significantly this last decade.

2. Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter movement (death of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, ‘Hands up, Don’t Shoot, #Black Lives Matter Movements, Kneeling in NFL)

While police brutality is not synonymous to a specific race, the history of African Americans and the interactions with police prior to this decade drudged up painful memories within the community and instilled fear within the new generation. The “resurgence” of police brutality and excessive force can be pinpointed to the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in 2012. This spawned the Black Lives Matter Movement the next year, after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the case.

In 2014, the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown spawned the Ferguson Unrest. In the same year, the choking death of Eric Garner brought the “I Can’t Breathe” apparel from athletes and protestors. Other widespread and media covered deaths included Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Walter Scott, and many more. The similarities in these cases consist of the victim being unarmed and the police engaging in excessive force, with a video typically being taken of the incident. With the new usage of body cameras and other methods, there are steps being taken in the right direction for the future. 

3: Death of Osama Bin Laden: The decade long manhunt reached a climactic point when Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden was shot and killed by Navy Seals on May 2, 2011.  The figurehead for terrorism, Laden was attributed to the September 11th attacks, which is the deadliest attack on American soil, prompted The War on Terrorism and more intense security measures. When President Obama announced on all the major news networks of Osama Bin Laden’s death, people began to rejoice in the streets. While the country will never forget the September 11th attacks, this was a significant win for the country. 

4. #MeTooMovement: Prompted by the New Yorker and the New York Times investigations into Harvey Weinstein in 2017, the global social media and grassroots movement began. From the verbiage coined by Tarana Burke in 2006 to the hundreds of women who have come forward in various industries (news, music, acting, etc.), it has created a network linking women (and even men) who share similar stories of sexual harassment, assault, and rape. A plethora of powerful men have been accused during the “MeToo”/ era including Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Kevin Spacey and Louis C.K. Women had found their strength and said “Times Up” in ways that had not happened before. 

5. Civil Unrest & Young Activism: Aside from conflict in America, globally people and various countries had fought against authoritative figures. From the beginning of the decade in Arab Springs to the Syrian Civil War, the Battle of Aleppo, Turkey Coup, Russian military intervention in Ukraine, and many more. There was also countless protest including the Russian Protest (2017-2019), Hong Kong protests (2014 and 2019), Chilean student protest (2011-2013), etc. These protests and calls for change across the globe also uplifted young activists.

Joshua Wong leading the 2014 Hong Kong protests, Ahed Tamimi standing up to Israeli forces in Palestine, Greta Thunberg fighting against world leaders on climate change, and within the United States, Parkland survivors David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez led protests and called out politicians.  Most notably, Malala Yousafzai survived a gunshot to the head after her activism for young girls in Pakistan. Despite the attack, Yousafzai still spoke up about education for young girls and became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014 at just 17.

6. Donald Trump: The business tycoon and The Apprentice reality television star took the world by storm when he decided to run for the 2016 Republican nomination. With his political campaign being riddled by perceived radical debate responses, inappropriate comments, and questionable business dealings, there was little stock people took in his capabilities to win the nomination. Yet, his rhetoric grew stronger his supporters began to swell. Trump ended up winning the Republican nomination, but surely his inexperience would not outweigh the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton?

Well, it did.

Donald Trump won the electoral vote and became inaugurated on January 20, 2017. Since then, his presidency has been ruled by controversy after controversy, seemingly overriding the perceived positives. Whether you hate him or love him, Trump has become one of the most polarizing presidents in the decade and overall history.

7. Natural disasters & the growing threat for Global Climate Change: With the Haiti/Dominican Republic earthquakes in 2010 hitting a magnitude of 7, multiple infrastructures were ruined and the Haitian government reported that around 230,000 people had lost their lives, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in history.  As the decade continued more natural disasters began to rule the headlines, including Tōhoku earthquake and Tsunami (2011), Hurricane Sandy (2012), Harvey (2017), and Irma (2017),  Moore Tornado (2013), Super Outbreak (2011), California Wildfires (2017, 2018, and 2019), and many more. The increase of natural disasters is pointed to by scientists as a direct reaction to Global Climate Change. As surface temperatures increase this creates more intense and frequent storms and contributes to drought, which can cause widespread wildfires. As the threat of global climate change and warming increases, many activists are calling for world nations to unite and reduce carbon emissions, usage of fossil fuels, and adopting widespread renewable energy. 

8. Re-election of Obama: Obama, being the first African American president in 2009, was a historic moment for the United States. Yet, for this to repeated again in 2012 was monumental. Unlike his first term, Obama seemed less focus on formalities and attempted to focus more on personal relations and what the people wanted. Still, many of the issues riddled in his first term carried over into his second term, including Affordable Care Act, Middle Eastern conflict, Russian and Chinese relations, etc. Similar to Trump, whether you love him or hate him, he made history within those 8 years and had a profound impact on the younger generation.

9: Wikileaks, Chelsea Manning, and Edward Snowden: As technology began to grow more significant, hackers saw opportunities to reveal secrets within the American government. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange began breaking information in various countries, especially the United States. He also released damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign. One of the biggest scandals involved intelligence analyst Bradley Manning (now Chelsea Manning after transitioning) releasing multiple classified documents to Wikileaks. This brought charges of espionage and theft, sentencing them to 35 years in prison (before Obama cut her sentence short). Edward Snowden had an even more significant impact, as his leaks about the NSA revealing their involvement and access to cellphones, surveillance, and evading privacy. Wikileaks secured travel for Snowden and gained asylum in Russia. 

10: B.P. oil spill: On April 20, 2010, the worst oil spill in U.S history began. After the Deepwater Horizon rig off the Gulf of Mexico exploded killing 11 and injuring 17, the pipe began leaking oil near the ocean floor for 87 days straight. News cameras capturing this event saw nearly 3.19 million barrels of oil being spilled before it was capped on July 15, 2019. The impact on marine life and ocean communities was incredibly significant.