Yorba Linda for #BlackLivesMatter

Hundreds+of+protesters+gathered+in+Yorba+Linda+on+June+2+to+demand+change+and+justice.

Chris Robertson

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Yorba Linda on June 2 to demand change and justice.

On Monday, May 25, George Floyd was killed with a police officer’s knee to his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. For the following week, millions across the country and the world protested the demonstration of racist police brutality in a demand for reform and defunding. Many of these protests, despite originating with peaceful intentions, transformed into violent altercations of looting and tear gas, alienating many against the Black Lives Matter movement. Demand for justice occurred even in the small, suburban town of Yorba Linda, California–however, the demonstration exemplified only peace and the surprising unity of individuals who genuinely seek change after an incident which occurred halfway across the country.

 

The magnitude of the George Floyd protests and the renewed Black Lives Matter movement is astonishing, with expeditious social media messages constantly amplifying the messages of the movement and ensuring all sides of the news are available. According to the Washington Post, protests have erupted not only across all fifty states of the U.S., but in other countries around the globe as well: Brazil, Argentina, Germany, England, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Kenya, Australia, and New Zealand.

 

As thousands of cities across the world unite to protest institutionalized racism and police brutality, Yorba Linda is no exception. Its protest on Tuesday, June 2 was held along Yorba Linda’s Main Street and clustered in the Yorba Linda Town Center. Beginning at 4 PM and lasting only about two hours, hundreds of individuals from Yorba Linda came together in a peaceful demonstration which included speeches from individuals regarding police reform and eight minutes and forty-six seconds of silence to honor George Floyd. According to Twitter user @n0tkn0bs, who was involved in organizing the protest, the OC Sheriff and Mayor were notified of the event and offered their “full support.”

 

Of the hundreds of protestors in Yorba Linda, a high school student who is passionate about the movement actively participated in Yorba Linda’s protest. She has shared her experiences with the event which is unprecedented in the town’s history.

 

What happened, exactly, at the protest?

 

The experience was like that of no other. I am a very opinionated person, but I typically am not one to be very vocal unless something is instigated. This was not the case. We had various chants that we all were comfortable shouting such as “No justice, no peace, no racist police” “Say his name: George Floyd” and “Black Lives Matter.” At the protest, we began in front of Main Street and stayed chanting there for about an hour. Afterwards, we marched into the Town Center plaza by the fountain and kneeled/laid there for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, as long as the officer was on Mr. Floyd’s neck. Then, the leaders of the protest, a small group of 20 year olds, came out to explain the change that they wanted to see. They called for an end to racial profiling among cops, which means a change within the police education system, and a demand for young people to use their voice and vote. Afterwards, they opened up the floor to anyone who had anything to say about the movement. This was the most impactful part. There were moms who expressed fear for their African American children, there were teens who shared their stories of racism within Yorba Linda (being posted on the Yorba Linda Buzz as a suspicious person walking in the neighborhood), and even non-POC (people of color) came up to express the necessity to acknowledge their white privilege and use it to encourage the movement.

 

Did you feel a strong connection between all the people protesting?

 

Absolutely. I chose to stand on the brick wall in front of Main Street and there were people helping me get up there who I had never seen, met, or interacted with before. I returned the favor to others who wanted to join me up there. We just felt like one big, unified group of friends. It was amazing to witness and experience it.

 

Protesters in Yorba Linda took to the town center to demand change. (Chris Robertson)

About how many people would you guess were there? Were they mostly high schoolers, adults, etc? Were you surprised by the amount/type of people that participated?

 

There had to be hundreds. There were mostly teenagers, however, there were a lot of adults. I didn’t really see anyone of older generations other than parents of teenagers, which isn’t surprising since the older generations mainly make up the conservative groups.

 

Did you meet any people who opposed the protest?

 

Yes, unfortunately there were people who surrounded the area by the fountain in the plaza. I also heard some threatening comments from white bystanders surrounding the stores on Main Street telling us to just go home. My mom also told me she heard some guy threaten and throw profanities at an African American woman, in which police officers had to intervene before he got violent.

 

Were there any threats or suggestions to turn the protest less peaceful? If there were, how did everyone keep the peace?

 

Some were looking for a fight and attention. They came in honking very loudly and shouting at protestors. The cops turned on their sirens to make them leave, and the leaders of our protest encouraged us to stop paying attention to them. Honestly, we didn’t let it bother us. Yes, it was distracting at first, but my fellow protestors knew the point of our protest. We did not go out there to be violent; we were there to be peaceful, and no one could deter us from our main point.

 

Did you have any interactions with Yorba Linda’s police? If you did, could you describe them (how were they acting, responding, controlling the situation)?

 

I did not personally have any interactions with them. They followed us throughout the protest, but there were no altercations with them by me. From what I saw and heard they were respectful and observant.

 

With the stigma of Yorba Linda being more conservative, do you think the protest proved otherwise?

 

Yes and no. There were so many more people than I thought were going to show. Honestly, I thought there would be about 20 of us. I was proved terribly wrong. The overwhelming support from the community amazed me, and I was overjoyed. Nevertheless, racist protestors against the movement did show up, which showed the ugly aspects of our community. I did hear snide comments as I walked to the protest “to go home” and received dirty looks from onlookers. There was a particular scenario where a young man in a MAGA hat chose to drive by. Us protestors did not stand for that. We could’ve been a little more civil with him, but, regardless, he knew exactly what he was doing coming into a Black Lives Matter protest.

I want to be on the right side of history…I want my children and my children’s children to live in a world where every person is equal, regardless of color.”

 

What motivated you to protest?

 

I want to be on the right side of history. The injustices faced by the black community is disgusting, and it sickens me to live in a place that tolerates, promotes, and encourages it with its inherent racist systems in place. I want my children and my children’s children to live in a world where every person is equal, regardless of color. I am a Latina and Filipina young woman. African Americans marched against ICE when they put children in cages, black trans women paved the way for LGBTQ rights, and I had a bit of a taste of what it’s like to be racially profiled during the COVID-19 pandemic because of my Asian background. For all of these and more, I march with the African American community.

 

After your experience, do you have any advice for those who plan to protest?

 

Whatever you do, stay peaceful. The media portrays the ugly protests that make up the minority of them, so let’s not give them anymore reason to do so. People will stare at you, intimidate you, and discourage you, but that is because they are ignorant. If you stand with the black community, then you are not. Please don’t give the media/president/police any more reason to encourage violence.

 

What can people in Yorba Linda, even if they can’t drive to major cities and protest, do next to help the movement?

 

Sign petitions, donate money, watch certain YouTube videos (AND WATCH ALL THE ADS because the profit made from watching them will fund the BLM movement). Vote! If you are sick of racism, DO NOT ELECT RACIST OFFICE OFFICIALS. Read up on your local elections and vote for laws that will hold police accountable for their actions. Educate yourself. There are so many documentaries, books, news articles that will explain your privilege and what you can do to weaponize it to help the black community. Silence on the issue promotes racism, so use your voice, educate yourself, and call out racists because it’s 2020, so there should be no reason for ignorance.

 

The protest in Yorba Linda was clustered in the Yorba Linda Town Center, around its fountain. (Chris Robertson)

 

The involvement of Yorba Linda, the birthplace of the notoriously conservative President Richard Nixon, in the George Floyd protests and Black Lives Matter movement exemplifies the ability of a community to unite under a common cause while demonstrating the intensity of the national movement. Despite their predominantly conservative values, despite their small town size, and despite their distance from Minneapolis or other major protesting cities, citizens of all ages and backgrounds from Yorba Linda came together to demand justice, all while maintaining peace.

 

With the determination to pursue any change, big or small, individuals–even, and perhaps especially, those from small towns, including Yorba Linda–can make a difference.

 

Thank you to the high school student for sharing her story and to Chris Robertson for sharing his photography. Any associated political views are not affiliated with nor sponsored by The Wrangler. All images of the event were provided by Chris Robertson (12).