Variety of opinions expressed on State Street
The outbreak of protests and riots following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn., has sparked a high level of discussion among Santa Barbara natives and visitors.
Following the protest organized by Black Lives Matter Santa Barbara on Sunday, scattered viewpoints and a variety of perspectives were expressed by people of all ages and races on State Street.
Kimberly Ray, the founder of the Marine Conservation Network in Santa Barbara, said she refused to get involved with the protests.
“They are too out of control and too out of hand,” she said, referring to the increasing violence occurring in large cities.
Mrs. Ray attributed the building stress and tension to the social distancing and quarantining requirements of COVID-19.
“I’m all for protesting if you’re doing it peacefully,” she said. “The protest in Santa Barbara was very peaceful.”
However, she said she believes a lot of the violent rioting and stealing is arranged and that “there is something behind it all.”
Her husband, Charles Ray, co-founder of the Marine Conservation Network, agreed with her, saying that he has heard instances of stores providing sets of bricks for rioters to throw at other stores.
“There’s an influx of money from somewhere,” he said. “People are being paid to riot.”
Mrs. Ray added that the looting and violence is all part of an “ego trip” and people want to run with it and cause harm.
“There’s a lot more to worry about,” she concluded.
Arnold Buckner, a Santa Barbara resident since 1978, said, “I would have to feel if I was a black person and I was constantly being prosecuted, I might be very angry, but I probably wouldn’t do some of the things that the people are doing that are totally crazy. Why loot? It’s crazy.”
Mr. Buckner also said that he was surprised what happened to Floyd can still happen with current technology.
“[Floyd was] asking to breathe … I mean, what could he have been doing that you needed to put your foot on his neck?” he said. “Don’t you know that everyone around you has videos and cameras all over the place? What are you doing? Everybody’s watching you.”
Pedro Alcansas, another Santa Barbara resident, said that the destruction is getting “pretty bad.”
“It’s really hard for the police too,” he said.
However, Mr. Alcansas said the protests are a good thing, because “people are out and starting to pay attention.”
Erica Pitts Breaux, a native of Washington D.C., was visiting Los Angeles, and said she came to Santa Barbara to get out of the madness for a few days. She described the violent riots as “very disheartening,” but that the widespread discussion surrounding the murder of George Floyd is important.
“We need to have a dialogue,” Ms. Pitts Breaux said. “We’re not talking about ‘bad’ things. We’re talking about horrific things. Unmentionables.”
As a mother of an 11-year-old girl named Maiden, Pitts Breaux said a good thing about staying home because of COVID-19 is that it has provided an opportunity for her to give Maiden a good history lesson about African Americans that she wouldn’t have gotten in school.
It was Maiden’s 11th birthday, and she said herself that it is time for black people to “stand up for our rights.”
“My friends in school are pretty scared,” she said. “It’s rude and disrespectful how they treat us, but we have to keep going.”