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A colorful First Annual Downey Pride March was held peacefully

Photo: Clarissa Arceo / DL

This Sunday, June 28, at 11 a.m., citizens from all over Downey came together in respect for the Black LGBTQ+ community members whose lives were taken from them.

By: Andrea Mendez and Clarissa Arceo

The march was hosted by Alexandria Contreras (who is currently running for city council) and a group of members in the communityAbout 75 people participated, lasting approximately two and a half hours gathered on Brookshire Avenue, outside the City Hall.

To start the event off there was a moment of silence to honor all of the black transgender men and women whose lives were “not lost but stolen” followed by a list of their names. The event was then filled with speeches, chants, and a march from Downey City Hall to the Stonewood Mall and back.

Some Downey residents passing by waved and honked from their vehicles in showing their support for the community while others angrily yelled at the group to “go home”. 

Contreras and friends had been brainstorming the event for months before her decision to run for council; “We thought it’d be really neat to have Pride in Downey, it’s something that has never been done before and especially since the Los Angeles and Long Beach Pride had been canceled we thought it would be nice to make this a new tradition in our beloved city”.

Downey hasn’t always been a very accepting city, it’s about time we make this change“, says Alex. The event just so happened to also be held on the 51st anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York. 

When asked why she decided to run for council, Contreras gave an honest response about her hesitance prior to finalizing her decision, “I’ve been attending city council meetings for almost a year now asking for changes and bringing up ideas to change our city for the better. I know our city can do so many great things and the fact that they don’t just shows a lack of leadership.

She continued saying: “If it wasn’t for the encouragement of certain community members, I never would’ve run. I know how difficult it can be; a lot of responsibility and work. It’s either we continue with what’s happening here in city council now- which isn’t good for anyone- or I can be the change that I want to see, that we want to see.

Along with Contreras, Donald Arrington, a local college student and activist who ran the recent Black Lives Matter protest in Downey on June 3rd, helped organize the event.

Arrington mentions being more actively and politically involved in the city in hopes for a change, “I really hope it inspires our leaders to take us more seriously. I’ve always been an AVID voice for change, but it’s because of the way I’ve been belittled and not taken seriously that has inspired me to be this voice. And they’re for sure going to hear all of our voices whether they like it or not.

Rose Townsend, the brother of one of the main organizers who participated in the march, also gave input on his hopes for Downey’s change, “I would like to see more representation in our political boards. There is a role for everybody in this [the fight for justice and equality].

Townsend added: “The most important thing we can do is to know our city council, know what policies are being pushed, know what policies we have on the board right now, and to push back the ones that do not fit in our community now.”

A participant in the march, Sage, posed the question as to why they decided to show out today, “ I came to show solidarity for black trans lives. Last week I listened to my first Downey council meeting. Seeing the attitude they [the council] had and how they weren’t listening to the requests of the citizens made me upset. Seeing this happen at the council meeting opened my eyes to what is wrong in the city- not just the school, teachers, or students, but the whole city itself. It can be intimidating to live here.

The event ended with a concluding speech and thank you to all participants, and an invite to another protest being held tomorrow, June 29, in front of the Downey Unified School District regarding the complaints of sexual and racial harassment from students in the district.