Protests in Orange County over police violence toward black people and the role of law enforcement in public safety are showing no sign of stopping this week — the week of Juneteenth, a 155-year-old commemoration marking the end of slavery in the U.S.
Demonstrations since late May have sprung up in Orange County from north county to the coastal cities, all the way to the furthest stretches of south county. Over the last two weeks, hundreds and even thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets.
On Friday and over the weekend, protests took place in cities like Santa Ana, Anaheim, Irvine and Huntington Beach, with hundreds of chanters and sign-wavers turning up at each. All demonstrations remained peaceful.
Protests are scheduled to continue this week, starting with a “student-led” march in Buena Park at noon Thursday from the Sears parking lot downtown to City Hall.
In Irvine, a protest welcoming “Black families, speakers, allies and friends” will happen at Bill Barber Park starting at noon Friday, the Juneteenth anniversary.
The day after that, a protest is scheduled for Santa Ana at Fourth and French streets in downtown at 3 p.m.
And as far as June 27, another protest is scheduled for the Orange Circle in downtown Orange at noon.
Below is a chart of all the protests and their specific times:
The protests largely began in response to the Memorial Day Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a black man, and police violence toward black people and people of color in the U.S.
But over the course of more than two weeks of local and national protests, more police violence has further fueled demonstrations. On June 12, an Atlanta police officer shot and killed Rayshard Brooks, a 27-year-old black man in Georgia, who had been sleeping in his car outside a Wendy’s restaurant.
As the protests continue, so do the local calls for more systemic reforms to law enforcement in Orange County. Those possible reforms range from more police oversight commissions in local cities to a retooling of local budgets to divert the lion’s share of their spending from police to other public safety areas like youth programs, parks and libraries.
In Santa Ana, officials facing newfound public pressure have called for another discussion at their Tuesday City Council meeting on the possibility of a police oversight commission, a formal body that’s been requested repeatedly by residents and local activists concerned about poor police relations in the community and the local police union’s power in city politics.
At the same meeting, council members will also conduct a first reading of the city’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, as local activists and community leaders are calling on them to take another look at police’s role in public safety and whether the city should keep spending the largest segment of its budget on the department.
“Budgets are out this week,” Kelsey Brewer, chair of the Orange County Young Democrats, said in a June 6 telephone interview. “I’m looking at how local cities are responding. Are they going to cut down spending at the police department the same way they cut down on other programs and services for residents?”
She added: “Right now we have a real choice of how we want to respond to all of this.”
Brandon Pho is a Voice of OC staff writer and corps member at Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @photherecord.