Black Lives Matter protest draws hundreds to Mile Square Park
Hundreds gathered to participate in a protest march against racial inequality and police brutality on Thursday at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley.
The “Black Lives Matter” demonstration followed a wave of protests that have swept the nation since George Floyd, an unarmed black man, died from suffocation after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
A memorial service was held for Floyd on Thursday. Among the speakers was the Rev. Al Sharpton, who likened Floyd’s death to the history of black people in America. He said the reason black people could not be who they dreamed of being was because “you had your knee on our neck.”
Impassioned speech was found in Fountain Valley too, where the demonstrators walked the perimeter of the park with an abundance of chants and signage.
“It’s sad and it sickens me that simply because of my skin color, I look like a weapon,” said Tyyana Albert, 25, of Long Beach. “You are threatened by me, and there’s power within me. That’s what that says, and so that’s why I’m out here. That power that they’re threatened by, I need to use it to speak out for those people out there that feel like they can’t speak out for themselves, for those people out there who lost their lives because nobody stood up and fought for them as they were losing their lives for 8 minutes and 46 seconds as the life was choked from them.”
Albert added that she believes police brutality needs to be criminalized, and in her view, it took too long for the officers involved in the death of Floyd to face charges.
Police say the suspect, Travis Patrick White, pulled a black handgun from his backpack and held it aloft as a handful of demonstrators backed off and one took cover behind a parked car.
On Wednesday, the charges against Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, were upgraded to include second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Social gathering had been discouraged during the coronavirus pandemic, but some at the protest felt that more are being made aware of the issues of police brutality and racism as they watch the protests from home.
“This has been an issue forever,” said Mary Delurey, 55, of Fountain Valley. “It’s a horrible, horrible thing that institutional segregation has been perpetual in this country, 400 years of this, and we’re finally at a point where there was a breaking point, and people are actually listening to this and starting to make some changes.
“I think it’s so important for everybody to say something, to participate, to evolve themselves because it will never change unless we make an effort.”
The crowd included youthful faces, and members of other minority groups said they were also keen to rally behind the African American community.
Joshua Juarez, 20, of Santa Ana, held up a sign condemning police brutality as he joined in chants that included “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe,” and “No justice, no peace. No racist police.” He said that people have a right to protest peacefully.
“We are all equal, and we are all in this together,” Juarez said. “We all have to come together for this cause. It’s deeper than Black Lives Matter, but we are here for them now, in this moment. It starts with them.”
Meep Shows and Garden Grove High School’s Black Student Union led a crowd of approximately 4,000 people down the streets of Garden Grove in a march against police brutality.
Sarah Dilitkanich, 20, of Mission Viejo referred to what she called white privilege, and said she felt it was important to get involved in the fight for civil rights.
“I think that it’s really important that people use their privilege, people who are white, people who don’t have to struggle with these things, [to] use their privilege to fight for these things because it’s really important,” said Dilitkanich, a criminal justice and sociology double major at Loyola University Chicago.
“This is such an important event, the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s so crucial to support right now because this is the last straw. We’ve had enough.”
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