Hundreds of Isla Vista residents marched from Storke Tower down to Sands Beach Saturday afternoon in Isla Vista to protest the death of George Floyd.
The group of mainly students and a few members of the nearby community gathered at the tower around noon. Masks were distributed and caution tape was set up in front of the tower to remind attendees to keep a safe distance from each other due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A similar rally was held Friday night in Santa Barbara, with residents gathering at the Santa Barbara County Courthouse and marching down State Street. While a number of rallies held throughout the country in recent days have resulted in mass looting and clashes with law enforcement, the two rallies held locally were conducted peacefully and no noteworthy incidents were reported.
“They were loud, but that’s about it,” Lt. Aaron Baker, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department, told the News-Press on Friday night following the march.
During Saturday’s rally, the group shouted chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace” as they made their way through I.V. Upon reaching the trailhead of the beach, the group paused and held a 30 second moment of silence for Mr. Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and “all the other countless lives that have been lost because of systemic racism.”
The group then disbursed, with some heading back to the tower.
On Saturday afternoon, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang issued a statement to the student body.
“The images of George Floyd shake us deeply to our core, as do the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade. Our hearts are heavy and we are profoundly saddened and outraged. We are yet again, as a university and community and as a country, confronted by acts of injustice that are beyond measure,” the statement read, offering condolences to the victim’s families.
“But words have little meaning unless we also recognize the devastating effects of racism and discrimination on our country,” the chancellor wrote. “We share the anguish, outrage, and grief of our black community. We stand together in solidarity against hate and injustice.”
Local elected officials also addressed the death of Mr. Floyd.
“The video of George Floyd’s death is horrific and should shake us all to our very core. The officers responsible must be held accountable. We have so much work to do to make progress toward racial equality and justice. #BlackLivesMatter,” Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson wrote on Twitter on Thursday.
Rep. Salud Carbajal also issued a statement on social media, calling for “fair, transparent trials to ensure justice is served” and the country can begin to heal.
“Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. It is deeply disturbing to watch black men and women have their lives callously taken from them. The unprovoked and disproportionate killing of unarmed minorities is unacceptable, and it is also preventable,” Mr. Cabajal said. “Justice should not discriminate, and yet we know that racial biases have meant people of color are arrested and incarcerated at disproportionate rates.
“We need to do better. It starts with all of us to acknowledge the biases and discrimination Americans face simply because of the color of their skin. From criminal justice reform to improving access to health care, we can work to change our society.”
Around 7 p.m. Saturday, multiple local law enforcement units from throughout the county were dispatched to Los Angeles to provide mutual aid. Among the 52 personnel were members of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Barbara Police Department, Lompoc Police Department, Guadalupe Police Department and a police Bearcat vehicle.