ESCONDIDO — A Black Lives Matter protest on June 5 in Escondido drew hundreds of residents to City Hall, and it was peaceful from start to finish. The organizers were two high school students.
Seventeen-year-olds Grace Lashley and Rayne Cantero from Escondido started by circulating a poster on social media that called for a nonviolent protest on June 5 to demand “justice for the countless lives cut short because of police brutality in the U.S.”
From there, news of the event spread through the community like wildfire.
“We wanted to organize this event because we decided we’d had enough of waiting for the older people to do something in support of the Black Lives Matter movement,” Cantero said. “So, we decided to take responsibility and organize it ourselves.”
The protest was one of countless demonstrations happening in cities across the United States in solidarity with a nationwide Black Lives Matter movement that was reignited recently by the deaths of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police in Louisville, Kentucky.
Around 500 people filled the plaza in front of City Hall waving signs that read, “Black Lives Matter,” “Justice for Breonna Taylor,” “No Justice, No Peace,” “Abolish the Police” and numerous others.
The protest remained peaceful as police stayed close by. The crowd chanted, sang, danced, marched and waved at honking cars and onlookers who cheered them on.
“I’m very proud of my community for having a good time, while not forgetting our message, which is that we have to fight against injustice,” Lashley said.
The nationwide outcry began after Memorial Day when George Floyd, a 46-year-old man who was arrested in Minneapolis on May 25 for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill, died while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Video taken of the arrest shows since-fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, including for nearly three minutes after Floyd became unconscious. Floyd can be heard on video saying “I can’t breathe,” several times before he died.
Chauvin, along with the three other officers who witnessed the incident without intervening, have been fired, arrested and charged since the wave of protests began.
Tensions had been mounting since before Floyd’s death, however, after Taylor, 26, was shot eight times in her home by police who entered on a no-knock warrant in the middle of the night.
The police were investigating two men who they believed were selling drugs out of a house that was more than 10 miles away from Taylor’s home.
The warrant included Taylor’s residence because police said they believed her apartment was used to receive packages, yet no drugs were found in Taylor’s apartment.
The case is under investigation, but no arrests have been made in Taylor’s death. In the meantime, demonstrations demanding “Justice for Breonna Taylor” persist.
“While there are those in the community who care about Black Lives Matter, those voices are normally quieter than the ones who are against it,” Lashley said. “I wanted people to have a voice and to be heard over all of the hate in Escondido.”