After national mourning and anger over police violence, local protests call for change
On Sunday, the San Luis Obispo County NAACP Division organized a demonstration at Atasquadero, where hundreds of people marched from the flooded gardens to the Atasquadero Police Station and back.
Before walking from the park to the police station, ANAP gave a short speech about the purpose of the demonstration and a list of change requests it had. Members of Atasquadero City Council – Mayor Heather Moreno, Councillor Susan Funk and Councillor Charles Bourbaud – and leaders of Atasquadero City Council – Mayor Rachel Ricard and Chief of Police Jarel Hailey – attended the ceremony to listen to the crowd.
During a stop at the police department of Atasquadero, the crowd knelt down for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd, who was killed on the 25th anniversary of his death. Walked in broad daylight by Minneapolis Police Constable Derek Shawwin. The silent crowd took off with palpable united force before returning to the flooded gardens.
A crowd of hundreds of demonstrators, who had peacefully stood on the sidewalks, returned from the police of Atasquadero to the flooded gardens, singing for George Floyd and the cause of Black Life. Video of Nicholas Mattson.
In Sunken Gardens, SLO County NAACP chairman Stephen Vines spoke passionately to those present about how they can make a difference in society. He talked about violence, politics, social justice and change.
Violence is everyone’s enemy, Mr. Vines said. He will kill, he will steal and he will destroy. Violence only breeds violence.
Founded in 1909 by a group of activists from different backgrounds, the NAPCA is the oldest and largest civil rights organization, the National Association for the Advancement of People of Colour. ASO’s district office is one of more than 2,200 offices across the country. Among other things, the ANAPP Charter promises to defend equality and eradicate racial prejudice. The vines let the crowd know that ANACP has the power to support change.
Here at the NAAPP – the oldest, bravest, toughest, roughest NAAPP – we are non-violent and change the world, said the fall on the speakerphone. We don’t want bad words. We don’t need that. The truth is on our side, and the truth is that love always heals.
Peace is what we need, and we won’t let any of us steal it. We have to keep an eye on the ball. We talk about social justice, because without justice there is no peace.
What happens then? The vines continue. We’re dealing with politics. In order to play politics, we must have political power. What is political power? Political power has enough votes to win. Not only voting, but winning.
The vines begged the crowd to go to the polls, define the strategy and register the people to vote.
That older generation wasn’t very nice to all of you, Vince. You need to take charge and clean up this mess. If you don’t do it all, it won’t be done. We old people have been brought into circumstances that are okay doke [curses].
Finally, he called on the members of the crowd to commit themselves to change by becoming leaders in the local community.
Which one of you is going to run for mayor? Well, ask Vince. Which one of you is going to run for district governor? Which one of you is going to run for city council? That’s what you all have to do, because we have to shake things up and give people power.
The NAACP SLO district branch of the NAACP focused on a Sunday demonstration in the flooded gardens. Video of Nicholas Mattson.
The vineyards gathered a passionate and peaceful crowd calling for action and a vote for the November 2020 elections, before Jerry Gaona, born in Attackadero, peacefully concluded the meeting with a prayer.
It’s pretty amazing to see so many people, Gaona said. A lot of people were afraid to go out because they didn’t, and I didn’t want to be part of a group that had no respect for the police or business. But what I wanted to do was represent 2% of Afro-Americans in the ASO district.
Gaona grew up in Atasquadero and through her personal experience as a child she wanted to participate in positive changes.
Gaona’s grandfather was David Cowan, who moved to Atasquadero in 1913 and initiated the annual Colony Days parade.
I have a long history of racism at Atasquadero with me and my family, Gaona said, and what my brothers and I have been through. Usually it was great, but specific things happened to us that left scars.
Gaona stated that her boys aged 9, 11 and 13 had experienced racism since their return to Atasquadero from Burbank County six years ago.
I didn’t even talk to my kids about racism before I went back to Atasquadero, Gaona says. My children have been called the N-word several times at school, and there have been so many other times.
While the positive and negative aspects of a small town for small children lead to complications and difficulties in growing up, Gaona confirmed that positive changes are taking place.
I wanted to be here because a lot of people commenting on the protests are negative about them, Gaona said, but I see both sides. I see crime black on black, I see all the stats – I see both sides, and I love both sides of the story.
The current chapter of national history is full of violence, looting, riots, arson, clashes, intensification and calls for anarchy, but also of prayers, dialogue, peaceful protests and calls for unity. Ms. Gaona said she believes that local change is possible through open and honest dialogue.
I understand the history, and there are always racial problems at Atasquadero, Gaona said. I wanted to be here not only to protest peacefully, but also to enter into dialogue with everyone. This is largely due to the fact that there are few African-Americans in society, and we want to be part of the conversation and bring unity in Atasquadero.
As the national debate unfolds in the short months leading up to the presidential election, the two dominant parties in the United States proceed to nominate their candidates, and the year 2020 has so far provided the raw material for this, as have many points in modern history. Meanwhile, local communities face local problems that require local leadership and local solutions that do not necessarily require political support or loyalty.
I don’t belong to any organization, Gaona said. I don’t believe in everything everyone believes in, but I believe in love, and I believe in trying to talk and protest peacefully and talk about the real issues.
Gaona’s experience with the local police shows a fairly typical story for an inhabitant of Ataskadero, with some positive experiences and some possibilities for improvement. On Sunday, the Atascadero police were accompanied by sheriffs from the PLO and policemen from Morro Bay, who guaranteed the health and safety of the citizens and local businesses, while the demonstrators tried to get rid of the stigma of violence and vandalism of recent weeks. Due to rumors and fear of Tuesday’s demonstration in Paso Robles, several companies climbed into their doors and windows to defend themselves, and this defense lasted until Sunday.
During the demonstration on Sunday, the crowd went to the center of the city, where the police controlled the movement.
I had a conversation with the police and I thanked them, Gaona said. I’ve thanked all the policemen I’ve met for being there and protecting us, because the police do a lot of good, but there are rumours about what my family has been through with the police. It was great with 95%, but there’s also the 5% I think we should talk about.
Vince said Sunday’s meeting is one of a series of meetings to be held by the ASO district in the months leading up to the November elections.
The organisers observed a minute’s silence at 8:46 a.m. on the ODA parking lot before returning to the flooded gardens.
Peaceful protests remained on the sidewalks and the up and down movement of El Camino Real went without hindrance, with passing cars showing their support for the protest.
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