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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a-1591030683 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.

a-1591030765 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-1591031230 Jun 01, 2020 10:07 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

When I see white kids wearing Antifa gear and people of all color breaking windows, setting buildings and cars on fire, looting and ransacking, I can't help but wonder how their parents raised them. Why weren't honorable values were instilled? And what are these kids, now criminals, being taught in our schools and colleges? It's time for the rest of us to start chanting "No mercy, no peace, bring in the riot police!" Seeing this complete anarchy and chaos is sickening.

a-1591033288 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).

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-1591043582 Jun 01, 2020 01:33 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

MLK followed that up with a call for NON VIOLENCE. He was acknowledging the root of rioting - and saying not to do it. Don't be selective in your quoting of a man who did so much for the black community and looked out for it unlike those calling for riots and looting. All that does is hurt this community further.

Alexblue Jun 02, 2020 02:39 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

You do know that "Antifa" is pretty much a right wing fantasy, right? A couple hundred people out in the world willing to show up and break some windows. But they are a great boogeyman for self deluded tools an puppet masters who want to point "over there" while they ignore the far more dangerous extreme right religious and white supremacist fanatics who are responsible for the majority of domestic terror attacks on this country.

x01660 Jun 01, 2020 10:09 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

What a lame duck mayor; adversity ALWAYS shows who's capable, and who freezes like a deer in headlights. Murillo is FIRMLY in the latter camp. After all this mess settles down, I wonder if Santa Barbara has a recall process; we've seen on a national level what a lack of leadership looks like. And I see the same with our "mayor". She's gotta go. I can't WAIT for election time....

a-1591032620 Jun 01, 2020 10:30 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

All white people are not racist any more than any other group of people.

However, in a Country founded in white oppression and slavery, which continues to perpetuate the terrorizing and victimization of people based upon the color of their skin, caring white people become guilty of wrongdoing by failing to act. We white people have a duty to effectuate change in the system which provides our privilege. Just as the "collaborators" in Germany failed to speak up and save my people from the gas chambers and decade of Nazi violence which led to them, white people who do not work for racial justice and healing here and now are guilty. It is ignorant to believe that you understand someone's pain when you haven't lived it, but it is human to think you can. Above all, we need to start listening - there are a great deal of patient and eloquent people trying to breach the divide between people so we can understand and have compassion for each other - time to listen, listen, and then: do something; do something; Do something!

a-1591037202 Jun 01, 2020 11:46 AM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Equal and Opposite Reaction: Gun sales surged in May as shops reported an uptick in interest and demand as the coronavirus pandemic continued and amid national protests after the Memorial Day killing of George Floyd.

Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting, a private research firm, estimated that there were more than 1.7 million gun sales in May - an 80% jump from May 2019.

“Yet again, firearms sales have surged in unprecedented ways,” said Jurgen Brauer, the group’s chief economist.

a-1591043890 Jun 01, 2020 01:38 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

I was really concerned about the anti lockdown protests by folks who had lost businesses and livelihoods and I'm equally concerned about this one - in light of this pandemic. Truly. The timing for this was really bad. I guess we wait and see now.

bigone Jun 01, 2020 02:46 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Why take a knee? I think all of us have been concerned about unnecessary police actions for a long time. I grew up in Los Angeles and witnessed and was subjected to both the Watts riots and the Rodney King riots. We don't need any more protests, violent or peaceful - we understand the message. Now it's time to make sure this doesn't happen again by being constructive and not destructive by having proper oversights and training in place for our police forces. Only every citizen can make sure of this through election of local, state, and federal officials who will ensure this is the case. The fact a city like Minneapolis, where several of my relatives live, could elect the politicians and mayor who failed in their duties to "police their own police" are also to blame. When I heard that Derek Chauvin had 18 complaints filed against him regarding racism and brutality that were never addressed, I could only shake my head in disgust that the elected or appointed officials ignored all of this and did nothing to reprimand or discharge this dangerous person. It is not society that failed, it is the failure of government in this city, whether it is liberal or not.

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

Column in the LA Times about one of their af-am writers being handcuffed 3 times in his life, twice for driving a nice car while being black and once for being mistaken for a black robbery suspect. That seems like an unbelievable level of harassment. I have never heard that any of my white friends have ever been handcuffed. What a difference a skin color makes.

a-1591053515 Jun 01, 2020 04:18 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

Well, here's a piece of information for you. I, as a young white male, was stopped and detained and handcuffed by LAPD because they seemed unable to imagine that a white man was living in a mixed ethnic neighborhood in LA. Cops do not like things that call for imagination or tolerance. They held me outside my cheap apartment for 45 minutes in cuffs in the rear of the police car after a take down when I said I was going to my rooms. They had absolutely no other reason to detain me. I was released when the "no wants, no warrants" call came over the police radio (after a 10 minute delay). So part of this stuff is the general nature of cop culture. They want predictability and regular behavior. Everything else is suspect. Unfortunately this often means that ethnic people are perceived as "irregular."

PitMix Jun 02, 2020 01:03 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

4:18, seems like being detained and handcuffed without a warrant is illegal. Is there no way to report this to someone and get it addressed? If there is a crime it doesn't seem legal to stop everyone in the vicinity and detain them until maybe you finally get the right person.

a-1591046752 Jun 01, 2020 02:25 PM
Local Communities Join Nationwide Protests Against Police Brutality

MLK was truly inspiring. I wish he was with us now. But if rioting is the language of the unheard, what language is looting and killing? Also, I would like to point out that the more public property that is damaged, the more tax dollars (the public's hard earned money) have to be designated to those purposes, and maybe that means less tax dollars for purposes that truly help the BLM causes. Those fancy heavily equipped police cars cost a lot of tax dollars. Seeing them and other public structures get destroyed makes me cringe. Floyd's death was despicable and the cop should be up for 1st degree murder, but this destruction & looting solves nothing. And let's talk about blk on blk killings? If BLM, then why are so many brothers being killed by brothers?

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