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With songs, prayers and speeches, a hundred people held a protest this Friday

This concludes a week where two peaceful protests took place in Downey with few people and no local authorities present.

By: Clarissa Arceo and Carlos Casillas

Unlike Wednesday’s demonstration, this Friday contained more order. There were more officers but fewer protesters in the event in which there were two organizing parties; a Christian church in the city, and two enthusiastic young girls.

Mostly residents of all parts of the city, some 100 people gathered in solidarity yesterday to protest the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and minorities like the black and Latino community who continue to be affected by police brutality.

During the religious organization’s participation of approximately one hour, there were songs, prayers and some words based on the Gospels.

For their part, Andrea Barajas and her friend Madison, who named the march “Peaceful Socially Distant Protest”, came forward to address a few words of encouragement to Floyd, Taylor and other citizens, mostly of color, who have died at the hands of the police.

Berenice Morales, a Downey resident for more than 20 years, shares her husband’s encounter with racism: “My husband was stopped outside my driveway when we were dating, because of the color of his skin and the way he looked, that is racism!”.

Keep saying; “I am a teacher and it has taken me longer to get here than it does an officer to become part of their Department. They need more efficient training… our own cops are not even taking a knee with us even though we are being peaceful”, laments Mrs. Morales.

Photo: Carlos Casillas

In the protest on Wednesday, June 3, it was young people who made up the majority of the protesting bloc. This Friday it was possible to observe a wider diversity in terms of ages, cultures and races.

Inspired by the protest in Santa Barbara, Lauren Medellín made lunch bags with some snacks and bottles of water. “I´m hoppping these protests brings justice to everyone affected. The last time I was here, someone was passing out snacks and I thought it was sweet.

She goes on to say, “Thank you for supporting. I want to be supportive and help everyone here too. I hope the Police Department stands up for what is right“, concluded Mrs. Medellín.

The only public figure who gathered at the protest was Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who also dedicated some words of support for the recently murdered by the police and named each person.

Organizers Andrea and Madison immediately invited those present to make a small march down Firestone Avenue, up to the height of the Stonewood Center, escorted by police patrols and receiving multiple honks of support from the cars and people who were passing by.

What there was not

In neither of the two protests that took place were any authority of both the City Council and the Police observed. On Wednesday morning, the municipal government suspended the meeting of the Planning Commission and, at noon, took the workers out of the City Hall building through the back door when the first protest was taking place.

With a total lack of sensitivity on the part of the Police Department, none of the officers who monitored the two protests in Downey knelt down along with the protesters as officer in other cities, other counties, other states of the nation have.

Photo: Carlos Casillas

Neither Police Chief Dean Milligan, nor Mayor Blanca Pacheco, any council members, nor the city manager, were present to represent the city’s solidarity or discern the pain of the protesters, as other authoritative figures have done throughout the country, or the mayor of Los Angeles himself.

The protest ended with a moment of silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, – the same amount of time George Floyd was held captive under ex-officer Derek Chauvin’s knee- and a birthday song tribute to Breonna Taylor who would have been 27 yesterday.