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Anaheim’s La Palma Park honors Juneteenth with music, art, candlelight vigil and a chance to give back

This year’s Juneteenth at La Palma Park in Anaheim marked a moment of Black joy but also pulled focus on mutual aid work.

OC Protests, a grassroots organization, hosted the event which included a musical performance by Weapons of Mass Creation, spoken word, poetry readings, a mobile art installation and a candlelight vigil.

One of the guest speakers included Katrina Eisinger, the mother of Christopher Eisinger who died during an encounter with Anaheim police in 2018. In April 2020, a jury found police used excessive force and awarded his parents nearly $2.3 million in damages.

The event ended with a screening of the film “I Am Not Your Negro” by Raoul Peck.

Josh Quiñonez, a Weapons of Mass Creation rapper who helped plan the event and spoke about his Afro-Latino identity to the audience, said “Juneteenth is one of the few days of the year that the Black community can really feel that Black joy while honoring all of our fallen brothers and sisters. I’m just really excited to be able to share that community space in Anaheim, where I was born and raised, and to be able to see that engagement specifically with Black and brown solidarity.”

Sam Herring, 27, said it’s the first time he’s celebrated Juneteenth with other people.

“Every time I’m around my people, it’s for something negative,” Herring said. “I wanted to be around for something positive.”

Milat Getu, 22, said, “Today was a day that I wanted to be in community with people. I just finished going to school in Irvine and it’s not a very diverse place so I felt like I could come here and celebrate with people who are like me or have the same worldview as me and have a joyous time.”

Mayra Lopez, 26, said she found out about the event through social media and drove from Los Angeles to donate wipes, diapers and socks.

Recently, OC Protests, UCI4COLA and Anaheim Autonomous Coalition joined a larger organization, Orange County Mutual Aid Collective, to centralize their pool of resources related to mutual aid. About 40 community members who aren’t affiliated with any of the three organizations also volunteer during food distributions and helping unhoused people relocate after encampment sweeps.

At the Saturday event, they received nearly $500 in donations and 200 pounds of hygiene and essential supplies like toothpaste, toilet paper, pantry food items and more.

“We really wanted to highlight the connection between mutual aid and Black liberation and why it is of the utmost importance that we start by giving care to Black and brown community members,” said Zoe-Raven Wianecki, one of the founders of OC Protests.

Quiñonez, who also assists with mutual aid work, said they’ve collected about 1,500 to 1,800 pounds of produce a week. OCMAC and volunteers sort through the produce and package it for unhoused residents or families in need of food assistance in Santa Ana and Anaheim.

Although the exact food distribution locations are undisclosed, those who are interested in picking up meals and essential items can contact the organization through ocprotestsblm@gmail.com or social media.

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