Hundreds flood the streets in Carpinteria to protest police brutality
Activism was out in full force Saturday in Carpinteria, as the small beach town saw hundreds take to the streets to denounce police brutality and honor George Floyd and other victims of racial injustice.
Organized by a group of Carpinteria High School students, what was expected to be a small gathering turned into a massive movement. The event was planned by Laura Flores, Jacqueline Urrutia, Isa Alarcon and Joana Romero, who all acknowledged that although they don’t attend school with many black students, they were compelled to make a pledge for change.
“We didn’t want that to stop us,” Laura told the News-Press. “We know there’s been black people at our school in the past and we know that there are young ones and we didn’t want that to let this slide without voicing our concerns about racism in Carp.”
Isa explained that it was important to stand with those who suffer from racial injustice.
“Carpinteria gets looked over because it’s such a small town, and I feel like that we need to make our voices heard,” she said.
Jacqueline, who is latina, said it was crucial for others of color to know that Carpinteria stands with them.
“Their lives are important to us and that’s their tribute to everyone.”
Added Joana, “The time is up. We’re just here to stand in solidarity.”
The group consumed the intersection of Linden and Carpinteria avenues, filling all four corners of the intersection before marching down Linden Avenue with chants such as “No justice, no peace,” and “Black lives matter.”
Upon returning to the intersection, the group returned to the intersection and stood in front of a police vehicle for several minutes. Participants shouted chants and held their signs in the air. Some then went to the ground, with several placing their hands behind their backs. Others took a knee before the vehicle turned around and exited the intersection.
Those who weren’t there to take part in the rally let their sentiments be heard, honking the horns of their cars in support of the protestors.
After nearly an hour of marching and chanting, the group stood in the middle of the intersection for several minutes as the organizers and others addressed the crowd. The group then marched down Linden Avenue for a second time and along Carpinteria Avenue before convening yet again at the intersection, this time taking a knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time the officer had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.
The event drew residents of all ages and ethnicities, including students from Carpinteria and nearby Cate School.
“I’m tired of all the people being targeted because of their race and I want it to stop. I hope there’s a lot more changes in police regulations, with more training to de-escalate situations without provoking violence and less racially charged violence against minorities,” said John Ramirez.
Russ Helfand said he was there to show solidarity to what he sees as a social issue he supports.
“Which is to say that all lives matter, especially and not exclusively to black lives,” he said.
Fellow Carpinterian Heidi Bautisa added, “I’m in a mixed-race family. This matters to me personally and to my whole family.”
Cate student Babacar Pouye said he felt the gathering was very powerful and enjoyed seeing so many people take a stand on the issue.
“It’s all about unity,” he said.
Among those who marched down the main corridor was Mayor Wade Namura, who told the News-Press he wasn’t surprised to see so much activism in his town.
“I would expect this from Carpinteria. Carpinteria is a very united city,” he said. “What’s most impressive is that this is organized by the high school students. There’s a big future and there’s hope in the future that we have in this community.”
Mr. Namura said he was there to support the cause, as well as the student organizers.
“I think what they’re doing is very commendable,” he said. “We need to have this kind of awareness brought forward. This is something that is going to change, hopefully, ideally the world. It’s taken a lot of generations.”
On Monday, the Carpinteria City Council will discuss adopting a resolution to condemn the “unjustified use of force and police brutality against black people and people of color by law enforcement” while also standing in solidarity with non-violent protestors around the country.