Newsletter: A movement with no signs of slowing

The Compton Cowboys ride down South Tamarind Avenue
The Compton Cowboys ride down South Tamarind Avenue, along with a couple thousand protesters, during the Compton Peace Ride on Sunday.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, June 8, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

The movement shows no signs of slowing, as protests sparked by outrage over George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police enter their third week. Even with an ongoing pandemic, an untold number of people continue to take to the streets across the nation and beyond.

There have now been protests across all 50 states, playing out in at least 700 American cities.

[See also: “Across the nation, Americans demand justice in protests loud, raucous and peaceful” in the Los Angeles Times]

Here in California, there have been daily mass demonstrations in major metropolitan areas, often met with an equally massive law enforcement presence. But there have also been hundreds of smaller rallies and marches during the past week, spanning every corner of the state.


In Fort Bragg (pop. 7,291) on the Mendocino Coast, hundreds of people lined Main Street to protest systemic racial injustice and police brutality.

In the northernmost corner of the Shasta Valley, demonstrators outside Siskiyou County Courthouse in Yreka kneeled in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee pinned against Floyd’s neck as Floyd and onlookers called for help.

Hundreds rallied by a pristine shopping mall fountain less than a mile from the birthplace of Richard Nixon in Yorba Linda, a part of Orange County that a 2018 study found to be the most conservative large city in California.

In picturesque South Lake Tahoe, peaceful protests have “continued for almost a week,” as hundreds of sign-and-candle-holding demonstrators attend nightly vigils at a public beach.

Many of the large protests have been led by longtime activists with Black Lives Matter and other organizations devoted to racial justice, but the movement has also “mobilized people from all races and walks of life who have not been previously been actively involved in racial justice issues,” my colleague Leila Miller writes.

[Read the story: “George Floyd protests have created a multicultural movement that’s making history” in the Los Angeles Times]

The mass mobilization of protesters following Floyd’s killing “has created a wide, multicultural activist movement unprecedented in scope when compared with other notorious cases of police abuse,” as Leila explains in her story.

It’s apparent by now that this is not just a story about big cities, or blue states. It’s also not a narrative defined in any way by the scattered pockets of theft and property damage that marred the early days of what have been overwhelmingly nonviolent protests.


What we are seeing is a sustained peaceful uprising across the country, with those in the streets demanding systemic change — not just to how our cities are policed, but also in regard to the subtle and unsubtle racism that permeates so much of American life.

We’re already seeing the beginnings of change at both the state and city level. After three decades of aggressive police expansion in Los Angeles, Mayor Garcetti announced proposed cuts to the LAPD budget last week. Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for new California restrictions on police use of force.

On Sunday, a veto-proof majority of Minneapolis City Council announced that it intends to dismantle the current Minneapolis Police Department in favor of “a vision for community-based public safety.”

Council Member Phillipe Cunningham said the Minneapolis body plans “to start from a place of — what does a future without police look like? And then work backward from there.”

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

The National Guard is pulling out of the Los Angeles area, a week after being deployed amid largely peaceful protests and some scattered looting in a few areas, two sources familiar with the plan told The Times on Sunday. Thousands of people continued to take to the streets in Los Angeles on Sunday. Los Angeles Times


Faced with growing criticism for the arrests of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators, top Los Angeles law enforcement officials said Sunday they will not pursue criminal or financial penalties against them. Los Angeles Times


L.A. County coronavirus cases near 64,000 amid protests and reopenings. Los Angeles County reported 1,523 new cases of the coronavirus Sunday and 25 related deaths. The high number of new cases was in part due to a backlog of test results received from one lab, officials said. Los Angeles Times

After five decades, the owners of McCabe’s Guitar Shop are retiring, citing the coronavirus crisis. But the music will go on. Los Angeles Times

Walt McGraw looks out from the front door of McCabe's Guitar Shop
Walt McGraw looks out from the front door of McCabe’s Guitar Shop. After 50 years shop owners Bob and Espie Riskin are retiring due to fears from the coronavirus. The Riskins’ daughter Nora McGraw and her husband Walt, pictured here, will manage the well-known Westside music venue.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)


“It’s the new Chinese Exclusion Act.” How a Trump order could hurt California universities: The president’s decision to bar some Chinese graduate students from studying here is stirring widespread anxiety among universities, especially in California, the top destination for Chinese students. Los Angeles Times

Simi Valley Councilman Mike Judge is at the center of controversy for suggesting using septic tanks amid protests. Judge began last week by sharing on his personal Facebook page a posting with the words, “Wanna stop the riots? Mobilize the septic tank trucks, put a pressure cannon on em ... hose em down ... the end.” Los Angeles Times


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FBI investigates link between shootings of officers in Santa Cruz and Oakland: After a Santa Cruz County sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed on Saturday, federal investigators are trying to determine whether the slaying is connected to other recent crimes in the Bay Area, including the shooting of another officer in Oakland last week, officials said. Los Angeles Times


Firefighters continued to battle the Quail Fire in Solano County. The blaze had burned 1,400 acres and was 10% contained as of mid-day Sunday. San Francisco Chronicle

L.A. is less cautious than the Bay Area in coronavirus reopening. Here’s why the two regions diverged. Los Angeles Times


A community organizer who trains police on bias was injured by a rubber bullet during a San Jose protest. Derrick Sanderlin volunteers training San Jose Police recruits on bias and community-building. He’s now wondering whether those lessons fell on deaf ears. Los Angeles Times

Hear that ghostly hum on the Golden Gate Bridge? It appears to be the result of high winds gusting through new slats on the bridge handrails, and it’s here to stay. San Francisco Chronicle


“Call it tech-to-table, a Silicon Valley effort to feed the hungry engineered by a local Boys and Girls Clubs chapter.” With unemployment soaring in this region of haves and have-nots, a local Boys and Girls Club has transformed into a pop-up takeout operation to feed the most disadvantaged. New York Times

Tinder will stop banning users for fundraising for Black Lives Matter and bail funds on the dating app. The move comes after a wave of users raised thousands of dollars encouraging their matches to donate. BuzzFeed

A poem to start your week: “little prayer” by Danez Smith.

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Los Angeles: sunny, 85. San Diego: sunny, 78. San Francisco: windy, 69. San Jose: windy, 80. Fresno: sunny, 84. Sacramento: sunny, 84. More weather is here.


This week’s birthdays for those who made a mark in California:

Multi-hyphenate musician Kanye West (June 8, 1977), actress Natalie Portman (June 9, 1981), retired 49ers quarterback Joe Montana (June 11, 1956), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (June 12, 1941) and Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo (June 13, 1970) .

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)


Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.