Orange County saw its seventh day of protests across the county, which started about a week ago over the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, and police violence toward Black people and people of color in the United States.
On Friday, Protest rallies were held in Aliso Viejo, Huntington Beach, Westminster, Dana Point, Cypress and Costa Mesa throughout the day, starting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Anaheim had a smaller protest with about 20 people gathered at 5 p.m. The intersection of Broadway and Harbor Boulevard was blocked off, next to the Central Library and Anaheim Police Department.
Close to 11 a.m., hundreds of people gathered in the murky cold weather along Greenfield and Crown Valley Parkway in Aliso Viejo, waving signs in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and drawing a choir of car horns in support.
On Thursday night, ahead of the protest in her city, Aliso Viejo City Councilwoman Tiffany Ackley called on OC Sheriff Don Barnes for a number of reforms over social media, including creating “a duty to intervene if another officer is using excessive force.”
Ackley wants de-escalation policies, verbal warnings before deputies use deadly force, deputy intervention if another deputy is using excessive force, and bans on chokeholds and firing at moving vehicles.
“Instituting or strengthening these policies in the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Use of Force Policies will not only keep our residents safer, it will help improve relations between our police force and all members of our community,” Ackley wrote.
At Huntington Beach’s Worthy Park, dozens of young people around 11:30 a.m. leaned against a chain link fence waving signs at passing cars.
Below is a chart of all the protests and their specific times:
At least nine protests are also scheduled for the Saturday.
The string of protests is challenging local officials to rethink police accountability and law enforcement’s role in politics and systemic public safety issues, right on time for budget season — where cities spend more on cops over other areas like youth programs, parks and libraries.
Local county activists are increasingly calling for more police accountability in the form of official civilian oversight panels.
The demonstrations appear to be having an impact in Santa Ana, where City Councilmen Phil Bacerra and David Penaloza have placed a police oversight committee discussion on the June 16 agenda.
Anaheim was the first OC city to put such a commission in place, while others like Fullerton and Santa Ana have in the past dismissed the idea.
While top county officials like Sheriff Don Barnes, Supervisor Andrew Do, and city council members across the county have denounced Floyd’s killing, there are mounting questions for local officials over how far they will now go to prove solidarity on the issue as well as pursuing greater accountability for their local law enforcement agencies.
On top of oversight, activists are calling for funding across local city budgets to be rerouted from police departments to youth programs, parks and libraries — aspects of public safety that community leaders say in the long run will reduce crime and systemic safety issues in underserved areas.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti — facing outcry over a proposed budget that forked a majority of city spending to the Los Angeles Police Department — announced a major retooling of the budget, moving $250 million away from other departments, including police, toward health and education in the Black community and communities of color.
Chapman University political science professor, Mike Moodian, who co-directs the University’s annual Orange County survey with Prof. Fred Smoller, said the protests springing up all over OC clearly indicate the county is changing.
“For years, those on the right have stigmatized Black Lives Matter. Here in Orange County, even the fact that you’re seeing people come out and proclaim this, it just shows you the county’s changed a lot, it’s changed substantially. Much more of a slant towards social justice, towards racial equality and toward more or less kind of progressive social views.”
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC staff writer and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at [email protected] or on Twitter @photherecord.