By Raiza Giorgi
A group of about 100 people from young to old gathered outside Buellton City Hall and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff substation to talk about systemic racism. For eight minutes they knelt and sat in silence to represent the eight minutes a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd. Floyd died on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minn., after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street.
“Don’t hate, it is not the way to go,” said one protestor who called for action to end racism.
Others said they need to get involved with local city government and ask local leaders what they stand for.
The leaders of the the protest in Buellton were Roberto Genovese and Aleiza Rogers who were glad people came to hear what they had to say.
“As a black woman living in Buellton I felt uncomfortable by the silence. Black lives matters, the people who died are what matter, and choosing love not hate is what matters.I am proud of all the people out here today and thank you to all those who came here today. Change is possible,” Rogers said in a Facebook live video.
Several other protestors spoke about their encounters with racism as immigrants to this country, and one protester saying that she came from a family of police officers and was dismayed about police brutality. They chanted as they marched back to the Albertson’s parking lot and many held up signs saying “Black Lives Matter”, “No Justice, No Peace”, and ” Justice for George Floyd”.
All four officers at the scene were fired the day after the incident. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on May 29. Then on June 3, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison amended Chauvin’s charges to include second degree murder, and the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second degree murder. The FBI and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension are both investigating the incident, according to national news outlets.
In a statement released Wednesday by Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown he said he was disgusted and horrified by what he witnessed in Floyd’s death.
“Witnessing Mr. George Floyd’s inhumane, painful and unnecessary death was horrifying and gut-wrenching for me. I also immediately realized that even though this reprehensible act occurred 2000 miles away from us, it would inflict damage on the relationships between many California law enforcement agencies and communities of color,” he said. “I recognize the anger that our African-American brothers and sisters across the nation feel as a result of this terrible and unjustified killing of a man arrested for a low-level crime. It’s okay to be angry,”.
Brown said he welcomed protests and he will always support and defend the rights of people to express themselves.
The Sheriff deputies at Thursday’s protests kept their distance, just providing protection as they crossed busy intersections.
There will be another event called the SYV Ally held in Solvang on Friday evening at 5 p.m. at Solvang Park, for prayer and unity.