A crowd of approximately 100 people gathered outside San Dimas City Hall midday Friday, June 5th, chanting “black lives matter” over Bonita Avenue traffic and hoisting signs demanding an end to police brutality.
Speakers traded turns at a microphone set up on the lawn to call for change and share their own stories.
Her voice shaking slightly as she addressed the crowd, Chloe Jones, 17 years old, spoke about her dreams for the future.
“I want to be a doctor and I want to help people,” the teenager said, “and how am I supposed to help people if I’m growing up in a society that so resents me I don’t know if I’m going to live to see tomorrow, I don’t know if my friends and my family are going to live to see tomorrow, because of the color of our skin.”
Moments after that, the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Jones, who shares the day with Breonna Taylor, a black woman who died in a police shooting in Kentucky in March.
The names of Taylor and George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died while in Minneapolis police custody May 25, have been invoked at demonstrations decrying police brutality, particularly against black people.
“Say his name,” a protester encouraged the crowd. “George Floyd” was the response. Later, protesters dropped in silence to one knee for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck before his death.
he officer who was recorded while kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Derek Chauvin, and three other officers have been fired and all face charges in Floyd’s death.
In the days following Floyd’s death, protesters began taking to the streets in cities big and small. Some demonstrations gave way to riots and looting, prompting some officials in Los Angeles County to enact curfews which have since been lifted.
San Dimas City Councilman John Ebiner, who attended the protest Friday, told the crowd he plans to introduce a resolution at the council’s next meeting that condemns Floyd’s death and takes a stand against racism and racial injustice. He said he will call for the city and local law enforcement to work with residents, those who are “scared or vulnerable or angry,” to promote change in the community.
“Those who are the least heard deserve a voice and they deserve a spot at the table,” he said.
Resident Melanie Grace carried a sign that read “Listen to us!” and pledged to continue protesting for change in her community.