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By Collin Breaux | Email: | Twitter: @collin_breaux

Another “Black Lives Matter” protest in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, June 12, again featured speakers calling for an end to institutional racism and social injustice, demonstrators marching throughout town while carrying signs, and the crowd taking a knee in silence.

The first 2020 “Black Lives Matter” protest in San Juan Capistrano was held June 3. The June 3 and 12 protests were peaceful.

Jessica Conquest, a family and marriage therapist who helps children and adults in Los Angeles and Orange County, was one of the guest speakers as the June 12 event began at Historic Town Center Park. Conquest told the kids gathered they have the power to impact the rest of the world.

“In the last few weeks, there’s been a theme in my life. I’ve been dealing with a lot but the theme is: my soul is singing,” Conquest said. “My soul sings because through this revolution, I’m surrounded by people who believe, like me, that my Black life matters.”

Jessica Conquest, a family and marriage therapist, addresses a crowd of fellow protesters during a “Black Lives Matter” rally in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, June 12. Photo: Collin Breaux.

Conquest said a racist system in America has “thrived” for over 400 years, and dismantling it will be a “long” struggle and “not a quick fix” brought about by just one protest, tweet or death.

“That’s why I’m so proud to see so many kids here,” Conquest said. “Our kids are going to tire. Make sure you are filling them with motivation and inspiration.”

Protesters marched throughout San Juan Capistrano on Friday, June 12, to protest against racism and police brutality. The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor have caused “Black Lives Matter” protests to occur throughout the world. Photo: Collin Breaux.

Protests against racism and police brutality have happened in South Orange County and throughout the world after George Floyd, a Black man, died in Minneapolis on Memorial Day after former police officer Derek Chauvin forcibly placed a knee on Floyd’s neck while Floyd was subdued on the ground. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, and charges of aiding and abetting have been brought against three other former officers on the scene.

The June 12 protest in San Juan was a collaboration between the Ladera Ranch Social Justice Committee and South Orange County Black Lives Matter, a news release said. Organizers were in talks with law enforcement before the event to ensure the safety of those involved. Attendees were able to sign petitions for related causes, donate to organizations like the NAACP and ACLU, and register to vote during the rally. Orange County Sheriff’s Department officers were at the June 12 protest to monitor the situation from the sidelines, similar to the June 3 protest.

“Racial injustice is still very prevalent throughout Orange County,” Solei Sarmiento, a head organizer and UC Berkeley student, said in the press release. “Work still needs to be done to create a more equitable future for people of color.”

Samuel J. Vance, a steering committee member for the OC Racial Justice Collaborative, spoke at the June 12 event. Vance said things are currently moving fast in America and recapped recent changes, including various police departments and places banning the use of chokeholds.

Vance also said though a majority of people in the country want to see some type of reform when it comes to police behavior and systemic racism, activism must continue so those changes become reality.

Samuel J. Vance with the OC Racial Justice Collaborative participates in a “Black Lives Matter” rally in San Juan Capistrano. Photo: Collin Breaux.

“Just like in the 1960s, where they had the Voting Rights Act, The Civil Rights Act, fair housing, that did not automatically guarantee a thing,” Vance said. “There were federal judges and courts of appeal ruling on different things going deep into the 1970s. It was not until the 1980s that our country became fully civilized saying there was equal protection under the law and if you were caught, there would be consequences.”

Fiona Meehan, who grew up in South Orange County and recently graduated from Tesoro High School, spoke about her personal experiences with racism. Meehan said she has been called racist slurs, encouraged her peers to call out racist and homophobic comments from others, and said White privilege should be acknowledged. Attendees also called for the recognition of transgender lives and LGBTQ+ rights.

Fiona Meehan holds a sign saying “White silence is violence” while discussing racism and White privilege. Photo: Collin Breaux.

San Juan Capistrano City Councilmember Sergio Farias attended the protest and spoke, saying he was against systemic racism and it should end immediately. Farias noted the number of young people at the rally, and encouraged them to continue staying involved in politics through jury duty and city government, in addition to protesting.

Cars driving by honked in approval when the protesters marched through San Juan, including by San Juan Elementary School. The crowd chanted, “Say her name! Breonna Taylor!” in reference to Taylor, a Black female who was fatally shot by police officers in her apartment in Louisville, Ky., when police were executing a no-knock warrant. Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker fired at police because he believed a robber was entering the apartment.

A single counter-protester at the San Juan rally held a sign saying “Hate has no home here support law & order.” The counterprotester declined to give his name to The Capistrano Dispatch. An onlooker at a restaurant told the protesters to go back to school and work when they passed by during the march.

A counter-protester at a “Black Lives Matter” rally in San Juan Capistrano who declined to give his name holds a sign saying “Hate has no home here support law & order.” Photo: Collin Breaux.

Some activists have called to defund the police. In a statement on social media, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said politicians seeking to defund the police are “relinquishing their responsibility to provide for public safety and preserve the rule of law.”

“Law enforcement must have resources to respond to 911 calls, prevent crime, protect the innocent from those seeking to do harm, and address threats like domestic terrorism and drug trafficking,” Barnes said.

San Juan City Councilmember Derek Reeve has also used social media to issue a statement against defunding the police, saying San Juan Capistrano will not defund or reduce funding for law enforcement.

“I actually want to increase law enforcement personnel if the budget allowed for it,” Reeve said.

Activists gather at Historic Town Center Park for a “Black Lives Matter” protest in San Juan Capistrano on Friday, June 12. Photo: Collin Breaux.

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comments (3)

  • It’s time to shed the racism myth

    There are three reasons white people exist today: 1) Evolution, 2) The Earth is tilted on its axis, and 3) Black Africans migrated out of Africa into the northern hemisphere.

    There is only one, yes ONE, race: the HUMAN race.

    Our species — HOMO Sapiens evolved between 250,000 and 300,000 years ago, in a broad semi-arid sandy savannah in Southern Africa, known today as the Kalahari, extending for 900,000 square
    kilometers, covering much of Botswana, parts of Namibia and regions of South Africa.

    What this means is that every white person’s ancestry began with those Black Africans who migrated out of Africa some 65,000 to 103,000 or more years ago. The road map of our journey is in our DNA.

    The biological difference between the dark skin of sub-Saharan Africans and the light skin of Europeans can be traced to whether there is a “G” or a “C” at one particular position in a gene called SLC24A5. The SLC24A5 gene plays a role in producing the skin pigment eumelanin, nature’s natural sunscreen.

    Consequently, to say that the protests this past month comprised multiple races is a misstatement because there is only ONE race, the HUMAN race. We are one family, brothers, sisters, cousins, all equal in the eyes of God.

    And, speaking of God, many of us claim the United States to be a Christian nation. Well, Jesus Christ only gave us TWO commandments: LOVE God and LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF. Jesus DID NOT say, “Love thy neighbor as thyself, EXCEPT those of color or who we perceive as different out of fear or ignorance.”

    It’s also worth noting that Jesus was a man of color. He was not white, nor was he European, despite being depicted as “white”in white churches. Jesus, in fact, is described as being like “topaz” and “bronze glowing in a furnace” in the Book of Daniel 10:6 and Revelation 1:14-15.

    We are a diverse species, and it is our diversity that makes us great. It is time we put our childish myths behind us, grow up, and learn to live together.

  • As a nation made up of individuals from varying backgrounds, ethnicities, national origins, religious beliefs, sexes (male or female or intersexed), and other characteristics, there is one thing that is for certain – we are all humans. All of us, regardless of our individual characteristics and traits, are members of the Human race. There are no other races. Until we learn to accept the diversity of the human condition and treat each other with dignity and respect, we will continue to live separate and unequal lives. A nation divided cannot stand. Famous words spoken by a famous person. But true nonetheless.

    Regardless of our individual political beliefs and practices, it is long overdue that we, as a nation, address the issues presented by racial hatred and extinguish that hatred once and for all. This means each person in our country MUST engage in deep, thoughtful personal examination of the beliefs that form their lives and accept that we are all different, and unique, and that is a good thing.

    I believe discrimination of any kind is wrong and hurts not just the individual to whom it is directed, but all of society, for it furthers prejudicial beliefs and biases that do not serve any useful societal purpose.

    All lives matter.

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