Orange County’s mass of peaceful demonstrations against police brutality — roughly 50 and counting — on Monday stretched into a second week, with County public defenders marching in Santa Ana, as the novel coronavirus also continues to spread throughout OC.
“I can’t stop thinking about racism,” public defender Michelle Bell told her colleagues on the steps of the Old Santa Ana Courthouse Monday.
Bell ran through a list of unarmed Black people killed by police over the years: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.
“I’m not saying all law enforcement is racist,” Bell told demonstrators and noted being Black is often enough to be a crime.
“For simply being Black and at home, like Breona Taylor,” Bell said.
Police killed Taylor in her Louisville, Ky home when they tried to serve a no-knock warrant because they suspected her house was being used as a drop point for a drug dealer who lived far from Taylor’s home.
Protests around the world kicked off after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed Floyd when he jammed his knee to the back of Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as other officers looked on. Four officers have since been charged for the Memorial Day killing.
Demonstrations have been taking place across OC for over a week and most people have been wearing a mask.
Meanwhile, the virus has now killed 177 people out of 7,527 confirmed cases, according to updated County numbers. There were also 291 people hospitalized, including 135 in intensive care units. Just over 3,300 people have recovered and nearly 162,000 tests have been conducted throughout OC, which is home to roughly 3.2 million people.
See the chart below for a full listing of protests:
On Monday, roughly 300 county public defenders and others marched from the Old Orange County Courthouse to the Sheriff’s headquarters on Flower Street and Santa Ana Boulevard.
Once there, they took a knee for nearly nine minutes to honor Floyd and protest police brutality.
Before the march, public defender Darren Thompson called for everyone to stand with the Black community.
“If you care about people that look like me .. you can’t sit on the sidelines. You got to get in the game,” Thompson said. “I was born in the game.”
He said racism “is a pandemic and it’s been going on for hundreds and hundreds of years” in the U.S.
“We have a lot of lives in our hands,” Thompson said. It is not going to be easy … Black people can’t do this without white people.”
Public Defender Justin Glen said he’s had to alter his behavior from a young age because he is a tall Black man.
But, Glen said, he actively fights that urge to modify his behavior, which was instilled in him when he was a teenager.
“I have to fight that feeling, because I’m afraid I’ll offend you,” Glen said. “I was taught to be afraid of the police.”
He no longer fears the police.
“I’m not afraid of police because I have a law degree,” Glen said.
Meanwhile, local residents and activists are actively questioning police department budgets, which take up half of the general fund in many cities.
At a protest in Fullerton Saturday, protesters in front of City Hall demanded sections of the police budget be reallocated to things like parks, libraries, after school programs and community centers.
The protest, which started out at roughly 300 people and swelled to roughly 1,500, brought out Congressman Gil Cisneros (D-Fullerton), Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) and City Councilmen Jesus Silva and Ahmad Zahra.
Here’s the latest on the virus numbers across Orange County from county data:
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio.
Digital Editor Sonya Quick contributed to this story. You can reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @sonyanews.
Since you've made it this far,
You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.
Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.