Black Lives Matter protests roll on after Juneteenth
The Black Lives Matter movement continued to build steam on Saturday, with multiple protests happening locally the day after Juneteenth.
It was June 19, 1865, that the last slaves of the Confederacy, in Texas, learned of their freedom.
Dozens of demonstrators raised their voices and signs against racial inequality and police brutality at Bonita Creek Park in Newport Beach. Some motorists honked in support as they passed by.
Kelsey Weisenberger, 31, of Orange said it is up to people to self-educate and change the conversation. She added that people should want to learn more.
“We have the world literally at our fingertips at all times,” Weisenberger said, holding up her smartphone. “Why can’t we be researching this stuff and then having the conversations, the conversations that might be awkward and uncomfortable, but it’s only because it’s a new subject to a lot of people.”
As she looks at a younger generation participating in social activism, Katherine Hayes, who said she is the mother of four Black children, wants more mothers to get involved.
“I had to have a conversation with my son at 7 about trying to be careful going out there,” Hayes said. “He was only 16 when Trayvon Martin was killed, and I had to go tell my son to stop wearing hoodies. I had to teach him when he’s driving to put his hands on the steering wheel when he gets pulled over.”
Marina Jade and Rachel Han, both of whom are 22 and from Newport Beach, came to the protest together. Jade, a first-time protester, said that she was motivated to spread a message of love, not hate.
Han noted that racial segregation was still around roughly a century after the end of slavery.
“If you don’t care about something like this [movement], then you’re not caring for the human race,” Han added.
While some have called for defunding police departments, Lance Calonge, 34, of Irvine, said he believes that one can back the Black Lives Matter movement while also supporting police officers.
“In the end, we’re all humans,” Calonge said. “There’s a way for all of us to live amongst each other in peace, and I think we have the generation that is [aware] right now. No distractions. No sports. Everybody is paying attention, and I think more people are getting more involved, so it makes me very, very humbled.”
At the intersection of Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach, demonstrators expressing different viewpoints gathered on opposite sides of the street.
On the side nearest the pier, Black Lives Matter protesters sat and listened to personal stories from speakers.
Kevin Walton, 25, of Huntington Beach, an organizer of the protest at the pier, said that the movement remains strong because the “fight will not be over until systemic racism is over.”
“I really want everybody, especially Huntington Beach, to know that we’re not here to burn your city down,” Walton said. “We’re not here to loot and riot like you’re seeing everywhere else. All we’re doing is trying to get our message across to the people on the other side of the street.”
Justin Frazier, 25, of Orange has been to multiple Black Lives Matter protests at Huntington Beach. He shared his personal reason for getting involved.
“My uncle, Gregory Frazier, was murdered by police in Pompano Beach, Florida, in 2016,” said Frazier, who had wrapped himself in an American flag. “That’s why I’m so passionate. I was on a combat deployment when that was going on, so I couldn’t be there for that, but I’m here for him now. I won’t stop until we make it happen, until we get justice.”
Frazier, who said he served in the Marine Corps, added that he is not “anti-cop,” but he wants to see investigations of police that have misconduct charges.
On the other side of the street, Ted Petersen, 64, of Costa Mesa, was collecting signatures for a petition to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. He said he was not in favor of the recent order that Californians must wear masks in public.
Alejandra Menez, 26, of Costa Mesa said that she signed the petition. She had come out to demonstrate in support of law enforcement with her aunt, who held up a sign saying, “Back the Blue.”
“My greatest concern is that if we do get rid of the police, if we do defund the police, and we start cutting the resources, who’s going to keep our community safe?” Menez said. “They go through training and a lot of these officers do grow up in their communities that they do serve, so who else better to protect us than people who are a part of our communities?”
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