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Costa Mesa demonstrators celebrate slain woman’s birthday, call for justice for her and others

Protesters shout "No justice! No peace!" as they march during a protest against police brutality in Costa Mesa.
Supporters for the Black Lives Matter movement shout “No justice! No peace!” as they march along Newport Boulevard during a peaceful protest against police brutality at Triangle Square on Friday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

On what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday, dozens of people sang for her on the side of a bustling Harbor Boulevard in Costa Mesa Friday.

Taylor, a black woman, was shot and killed in her home by Louisville, Ky. police during the service of a botched no-knock warrant in March. The demonstrators in Costa Mesa said her name, and George Floyd’s name, and the names of other black men, women and children who have died at the hands of police.

“Say his name! GEORGE FLOYD!” called out a chant leader. “Scream his name! GEORGE FLOYD!”

Lesetja Mohlabne, who grew up in Irvine and owns a media-production company in Costa Mesa, said he hoped Taylor was looking down at the peaceful protest that drew up to 200 people to Triangle Square. Mohlabne was planning on going to another protest that afternoon in his hometown, where he said people are paying attention even if Irvine hasn’t been affected by the same level of brutality.

“This is my community, and I represent a large proportion of the people who have been persecuted for the color of their skin,” said Mohlabne, 29, who is black.

Demonstrator George Alvarado, 26, of Fountain Valley shouts "No justice! No peace!"
Demonstrator George Alvarado, 26, of Fountain Valley shouts “No justice! No peace!” during a peaceful protest against police brutality at Triangle Square on Friday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)
Demonstrators voice their support for the Black Lives Matter movement during a peaceful protest
Demonstrators voice their support for the Black Lives Matter movement during a peaceful protest against police brutality at Triangle Square on Friday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Patrick Cahill, 25, of Garden Grove walked the route with a trash pincher and a plastic bag to pick up litter. He urged the group to help form a collective to articulate a cohesive message on progressive police reforms.

“If everyone’s screaming ACAB” — a widely used acronym for “All Cops Are Bastards” — “the cops aren’t gonna listen.”

Floyd’s death last week under the weight of a now-fired and criminally charged Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes has been a catalyst to demand recognition that black lives matter.

The Friday protest at Main Beach was organized by a group of 20-year-olds who had left but grown up in Laguna Beach.

Civil unrest has roiled several cities around the city. The scene in Orange County, which has had several demonstrations, has been overwhelmingly peaceful with some tension and a few skirmishes — a man pulling a gun on protesters during a verbal altercation and a car zipping through a crowd in Newport Beach, an assembly declared unlawful in Huntington Beach that led to several arrests for failure to disperse, and police firing pepper balls and property damage in Santa Ana.

The Costa Mesa group was loud and clear in its demands for victims of racist police brutality but had a gentle energy, with its birthday wishes and attendees passing out free doughnuts and water before marching laps around the large shopping and entertainment complex.

They cheered at honking cars with upright fists popping out of the windows, and especially for an ambulance that chirped its siren in support.

Demonstrators rally during a peaceful protest against police brutality at Triangle Square on Friday in Costa Mesa.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

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