Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

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By Lauren Bray, edhat staff

Local protestors joined the nationwide movement to protest police brutality and injustice after the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.

A small group of protestors took to State Street carrying signs and candles on Friday evening. The next day, approximately 1,000 peaceful protestors gathered in Isla Vista marching from Storke Tower to Sands Beach. 

The student-led protest included speakers from the "Black community who shared thoughts, frustrations and pleas for allyship, justice and safety for Black people," reports The Daily Nexus.

On Sunday afternoon, the local Black Lives Matter group organized a peaceful protest at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse with hundreds of attendees.

All of the protests centered around the recent deaths of unarmed Black citizens who were murdered by white police officers.

On February 23 Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old Black man, was fatally shot near Brunswick, Georgia, while jogging in a neighborhood. The incident was caught on camera as two armed white men chased and confronted Arbery, ultimately killing him. One of the men was retired from the local police department.

On March 13, Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers. George Floyd, an unarmed a 46-year-old Black man, was murdered by Minneapolis Police Officers on Thursday. The murder was caught on video as bystanders and Floyd pleaded with the officers to remove their knees from his back and neck. Floyd was later pronounced dead.

The culmination of these events led to nationwide protests against violence towards Black people and demanding justice for a history of police brutality. New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Cleveland, and Philadelphia are just a few major cities where large-scale protests have been taking place. Protests have even been reported throughout the world including London and Berlin. 

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti originally set a curfew starting at 8:00 p.m. on for Downtown Los Angeles on Saturday and later expanded it to include the whole city. Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo County law enforcement agencies sent multiple officers and vehicles to assist with the protests in Los Angeles on Saturday.

The community of Santa Barbara responded with a peaceful protest gathering at the Santa Barbara Courthouse Sunken Gardens on Sunday afternoon.

Lead by Simone Ruskamp and Krystle Farmer Sieghart from the local Black Lives Matter chapter, the demonstration drew nearly a thousand supporters in white t-shirts and face masks.  

Numerous speakers detailed their experience as black, indigenous, and Latinx people living in Santa Barbara County and beyond. Spoken-word, poems, chants, indigenous rituals, and heartfelt speeches moved the crowd to cheers and praise. 

Often the leaders honored their Black elders and invited them to speak. One elder quoted Martin Luther King, Jr., "A riot is the language of the unheard" while stating, "we gather so many times in sadness, but always with hope."

Black Lives Matter ally Chelsea Lancaster gave an impassioned speech directed at the many white people in the crowd. "Too many of ya'll are too quiet for too fucking long," she said while encouraging white people to speak up at school board and city council meetings.

"All lives cannot matter until Black lives matter," said Lancaster while leading a chant.

Ruskamp provided a detailed history of Black roots in the Santa Barbara community while stating, "I don't need you to continue to tell me Black Lives Matter as you continue to enjoy your brunch at Sambos." She referred to the restaurant on Cabrillo Boulevard that began in Santa Barbara in the 50's and expanded through the nation and has long been criticized for its racist roots.

Following the speakers, the crowd took to the streets marching from Anapamu to State to Figueroa. At the intersection of Figueroa and Anacapa Streets, the Santa Barbara Police Department hung police tape with approximately twenty officers in riot gear guarding the block where the police station is located.

Protest leaders invited members of the Black community in a powerful, peaceful demonstration as they laid on the ground for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, the approximate amount of time a white officer held his knee into the neck of George Floyd. 

Members of the non-Black community were asked to kneel in solidarity which led to the crowd in a chant towards Santa Barbara Police officers, asking them to join in by taking a knee. None of them did. In contrast, members of the Santa Cruz Police Department, including Chief Andy Mills, were seen taking a knee with protesters this weekend. New York Police Department officers were also seen taking a knee alongside protestors in Manhattan.

On Friday, Santa Barbara City's Police Chief Lori Luhnow issued a statement condemning the murder of Floyd and called for all police leaders to take responsibility for their departments. However, Chief Luhnow was noticeably absent from the protest and protest leaders criticized the press release as the department did not consult with Black community members to specifically address the needs of the community.

"When you talk about restorative justice, you include the people most affected," said Farmer Sieghart regarding the Chief's statement.

At some point, Santa Barbara Mayor Cathy Murillo appeared from behind the barricade waving at protestors.

"This is not a photo op!" one protestor yelled.

Leaders asked the mayor why she on the other side of the barricade and not marching with her constituents.

"Are you inviting me over?" asked Murillo.

A weary crowd chimed in with thoughts and feelings towards the Mayor. Tensions began to escalate slightly as someone from the back of the crowd threw an object towards the officers.

Farmer Sieghart took the reigns and quickly condemned any form of aggression or violence. She said, "we're seeing it all over the country now, white supremacists and white nationalists are hijacking Black organized movements. That will not happen here today. This was organized by beautiful Black women, and we come for change, institutional change."

Murillo listened for a short while before attempting to engage with the leaders of the protest to ask for a meeting. The leaders point-blank asked, "Where have you been? This is not new," emphasizing Murillo should have already spoken up and reached out. 

Murillo continued to talk over Farmer Sieghart who retorted, "when a Black woman is speaking, you're silent." Murillo responded by taking off her mask saying, "when the mayor is speaking, you have to listen to me too." Shortly thereafter Murillo relinquished and walked away from the discussion as the crowd booed. (A video of this interaction can be viewed here.)

At the conclusion of the event, the leaders thanked the crowd of all backgrounds and colors for supporting the cause and movement and encouraged everyone to continue fighting for equality. The crowd slowly dispersed while chanting "No Justice, No Peace."

The local Black Lives Matter chapter published their demands to their Facebook Page asking for the protection and preservation of Black landmarks, transparency and accountability from local law enforcement, recognition of the Juneteenth commemorating the Emancipation Proclamation, and that the City Council adopts a resolution condemning police brutality and declares racism a public health emergency.

Not long after the event, Murillo also released a public statement on the death of George Floyd.

"Most of us can never assume to know what it’s like to walk in the shoes of Black America – members of the marginalized community are rightfully scared and angry with a range of emotions. As a Latina, I share a glimpse of the disenfranchisement commonly experienced by people of color," said Murillo. The full statement can be read here.

Dolphin statue near Stearn's Wharf with a sticker reading "I Can't Breathe" (Photo: edhat reader)
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PitMix Jun 01, 2020 11:57 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

What percent of kids do you think are being raised by good parents who have the time and resources to give their kids a proper upbringing? 50%? 75%? The rest of them are candidates for getting into all kinds of trouble, including gangs, drugs, and antifa groups. What is happening out there right now is no surprise to me.

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 10:41 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

When I see kids wearing police gear and savaging the poor... I can't help but wonder how their parents raised them. Do you get how silly your comment is? I do not know what "Antifa gear" is but I do know that bad people can be found everywhere and the right has no corner on good behavior (or good upbringing).

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 09:59 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

There was an incident in Santa Maria last night around 11 p.m. - they broke windows in the mall and some businesses and set fire to a church but it was quickly tamped down. Someone on a page I follow said her cousin was there and they were all out of state plates. These are people taking advantage of this situation and it hurts the cause. Anarchists.

Alexblue Jun 01, 2020 03:35 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Anarchists and hard line Antifa are in the mix on this and they are wrong when they damage property and loot. But if you point to that and ignore the Boogaloos, White Supremacists and hard line right wing racists who see this as their moment to start the "race war" they've been salivating over for decades, then you are freaking deluded.

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 09:58 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Murillo blew it. She needed to listen. The crowd was angry for good reason. The City Council and mayor represent the rich and powerful, up zoning the City, disregarding zoning and planning laws in place for years in order to allow the wealthy landowners to build up, enabling a massive tourism industry that has robbed Santa Barbara of its' low cost housing neighborhoods and middle class downtown. Vote.

EricL Jun 01, 2020 09:10 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

"RACISM! RACISM! RACISM!" The media leads us on a litany of it over and over again. Yet this act of police murder wasn't perpetrated in some redneck state by some hick cop and ignored by some backwater town. It certainly wasn't done by Trumps orders. It happened in a liberal state with a liberal governor and a liberal mayor and a black police chief. One of the cops abetting the crime was asian. They murdered that man slowly, cruelly and brazenly in broad daylight. The perp did so not only with obvious expectation he would get away with it but the entitlement that he would. And he was almost right! In one of the most liberal cities in the US. Yes, racism is still a thing in the US. But we ain't in 1864 or 1964. People need to question the narrative the media brings us on this.

Ahchooo Jun 01, 2020 01:16 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

ERICL blames “the media,” but there is a lot of media out there with varying points of view, varying agendas, varying levels of actual facts versus opinion. Savvy consumers can get a lot of information and make their own conclusions.

EricL Jun 01, 2020 12:53 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

I'm sure there are racist cops. But they're supposed to be weeded out by the systems liberals put in to prevent that. A racist cop in such an environment should have to hide his crimes under dark of night, convenient legalisms, and strategic lies. This cop committed murder in broad daylight with the expectation he'd get away. And he almost did! OK, so maybe that was a fluke. But if the city government had acted "liberal" they would have arrested him and charged him AND his buddies with murder that day. They did not. It took two days of protests and hell raising just for them to arrest him. Meanwhile the arrested a CNN camera crew (despite them showing their press passes) for nothing. What that tells me is that the racism here is in the liberal city government. Don't get me wrong. There is racism in the US and it's not all Democrats. Trump may or may not be racist but his tweets are deliberately designed to stoke an element of his support that is (and provoke liberals to the point of derangement). But if you consider the breadth and scope of the anti-racist protests breaking out compared to what they looked like in the 60s you have to concede there is progress. But to seal the deal we need a much more nuanced approach than what's put forward by the media for its own self aggrandizement and political point making.

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 12:48 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

ERICL - wait, hold on, what? So now, after your ridiculous rant where you feign surprise that racism exists in liberal states, you're saying liberals (Democrats) are all closed racists? Seriously, what are you talking about?

EricL Jun 01, 2020 12:42 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

I'd be trolling if I were to point out that you're disputing Floyd wasn't callously murdered in the street. What I AM trying to say is the narrative we've been getting from the media is biased, misguided, and with an aim at stoking emotions for profit and political gain. Racism is a problem. But it's clear by that cops indifference to the law he's pledged to enforce that his city police, prosecutors, and government - all Democrats - probably care less for the average black man (and probably white man only a little more) than a card carrying racist.

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 09:36 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Ugh, this is going to bring out all the new Edhat racists. Already "disagreeing" with simple statements of FACT that racists exist even in liberal states. Lookeehere! California is the most "liberal state" in the union and we're chock full of racists! Look at all of you!

Zenyatta19 Jun 03, 2020 02:33 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

PIT Cathy doesn’t get criticized for being a woman. In my 48 years of life , Santa Barbara has only had 2 male mayors and one served barely a year. SB has a tradition of electing strong women as mayor. Unfortunately Cathy was not one of them.....

Alexblue Jun 01, 2020 03:37 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Pitmix, winning elections doesn't equal success in my book because the goal of an election is to choose a leader who leads--and leadership equals success. I am a big fan of Salud Carbajal because he is so clearly a leader in contrast to Murillo. Your bringing up her ethnicity in response to my criticizing her leadership is honestly pathetic.

PitMix Jun 01, 2020 11:31 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Just pointing out that she seems to get a lot of criticism. Of course you know that women in general, and minorities in particular have less access to power than white males and get more criticism for their perceived inadequacies. Sometimes what I see on this website about her seems unfair and one-sided for a politician who has won a number of elections and been successful in what can be a tough business. .

sacjon Jun 01, 2020 12:41 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

RESIDENT - It is undeniable, indisputable, unequivocal FACT that "White people have a long history of silencing Black people, specifically Black women." Do you seriously deny that? What is YOUR agenda? Do you support racism? Sure sounds like you do.

lauren Jun 01, 2020 12:41 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Hi Resident, thanks for your comment. I believe systemic racism and oppression is a fact and not an opinion. If you would like some educational resources on this topic, feel free to email me directly at [email protected] My agenda is to help educate and create a discussion within our local community. Thanks for reading.

lauren Jun 01, 2020 09:55 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Hi anonymous commenter, thanks for reading my article. White people have a long history of silencing Black people, specifically Black women. This is not arrogance, it's addressing deep systemic racism within our country. Here's an article for you to read to help you understand this a bit more: https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/politics/a25747603/silencing-black-voices/

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 08:46 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Before I even began to read this article I read the banner on the EH listing all the local topics appearing today. I immediately thought, "Yet another perfect opportunity for Cathy Murillo to appear for some free publicity and a photo-op. I bet she made an appearance." Guess what? But for a change, surprise, surprise, her butting into the event wasn't welcome by the crowd.

Ahchooo Jun 01, 2020 09:38 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Mark Snyder, please do not use Edhat for broad political statements as you just did. Edhat is about local issues, and sometimes about how national issues affect us locally. Edhat is one of the last places we can comment and discuss local issues, and we must not abuse it.

lauren Jun 01, 2020 09:45 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Hi Lucky777, thanks for reading my article. I encourage you to read a little more and click on the link in the article regarding the history of Sambo's restaurant. Here it is for your reference: https://www.kcet.org/food-living/the-troubling-history-of-sambos-pancake-house

a-1594537696 Jun 01, 2020 08:31 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

So these people think that they are justified in violent destruction of property and looting all around the country in the name of "justice"? Two wrongs do not make a right. For me they lose all credibility and support as soon as they began those actions.

Alexblue Jun 01, 2020 03:42 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

070, when did I say looting is just? I didn't. I'm saying that you are happy to talk about and complain about and decry and get upset about the symptom, but you don't want to talk about the cause. And that's part of the pattern that perpetuates this vicious cycle. Why is your first instinct to talk about looting and not to talk about the murder of an innocent man whose neck was crushed by a cop with 18 complaints against him? People love to go with the topic of conversation that allows them to vent their frustrations and point fingers at all the bad people--but after all they don't point their fingers at "all" of the bad people, just some of them. Why do you think you do that?

Concerned4Calif Jun 01, 2020 08:12 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

The video of police treatment of George Floyd shows shocking indifference. I am happy that Minneapolis fired those officers right away and one has been charged with murder. Hopefully more accountability to come. This peaceful protest is the right kind of protest to message to the leaders that changes in how the police work is needed. The riots around the country do not help those communities or help relations with the police.

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