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‘Not enough to not be overtly racist’: Black Lives Matter demonstration marches through La Jolla

Demonstrators march from La Jolla Cove to Windansea Beach on June 12 to support Black Lives Matter.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

With chants of “No justice, no peace; no racist police” and “Black lives matter” echoing in the streets of La Jolla, crowds of Black Lives Matter supporters gathered June 12 at La Jolla Cove and proceeded to march to Windansea Beach in a mass demonstration.

The event started in Scripps Park, with marchers making their way to the La Jolla Recreation Center, La Jolla Lutheran Church and on to the beach, with speakers at each location.

At its onset, volunteers handed out bottles of water, masks and snacks, and the La Jolla Village Merchants Association distributed “La Jolla by the Sea” face coverings.

San Diego City Council member and mayoral candidate Barbara Bry — whose district includes La Jolla, where she lives — attended as planned, but when her arrival was announced, march organizers pointed out that she had voted recently to increase funding for the city Police Department despite calls to defund it, drawing boos and chants of “Shame on you.”

Ahead of the demonstration, Bry explained her vote in an email to constituents, which read in part: “We did not defund the San Diego Police Department because, to help restore trust in our Police Department, we need to focus more on neighborhood policing, which means recruiting more officers committed to this approach, providing them with better training and support and strengthening community oversight.”

Tasha Williamson, a fellow candidate for mayor, was the first speaker of the afternoon. Critical of the Police Department, she said: “We are tired. We are tired of seeing countless lives on banners, on walls and on posters. We are tired of the injustice in seeing … police officers go without accountability. Some of you believe there are good police officers. I did not see one in La Mesa [during recent protests]. I saw thugs. So while you protect your police, I am asking to defund them.

“As our parents trained us and raised us, when you do something wrong there are consequences. Police need to learn there are consequences to their actions when they are lawless or reckless. … Today we have several people in custody because they fit a description, not because [police] have evidence.”

She encouraged voting out current politicians who support the San Diego Police Department.

Surfers, kayakers, paddleboarders and others gathered in peaceful protest for an evening paddle-out June 5 at La Jolla Shores to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the Rec Center, La Jolla resident Kat McCall (La Jolla High School Class of 2013) said in an impassioned speech that “it’s not enough to not be overtly racist. It is not enough to denounce the killings of George Floyd [who died last month after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes], Breonna Taylor [who was fatally shot by police in her home in Kentucky in March] and Atatiana Jefferson [who was fatally shot in her home by a police officer in Texas in October]. It’s not enough to say you feel sorry for them on your Facebook page. We need your action.”

She reminded march participants about Monique Clark, who was killed in a mass shooting at a University City apartment complex in 2017, and Aleah Jenkins, who died following an arrest by San Diego police in La Jolla in 2018.

“[Cases like] these women in our neighborhood have been allowed to fade quietly into the background for most La Jollans, but they are real and raw and enraging to the families of these victims,” McCall said. “They are real and raw and enraging to me and to my family, and they should be to you!”

She also shared anecdotes of racism she has experienced.

“It’s easy to become complacent when you live in the jewel of America’s finest city. Facing the truth and recognizing the privilege that surrounds you is uncomfortable but it is necessary,” McCall said. “We have the power, you have the power to overhaul a system that was designed to lift you up … even if it brutalizes and demoralizes communities of color all over.”

Noting local leaders and former presidential candidates who live in La Jolla, McCall called on the crowd to “demand action from them” and called for members of “my own La Jolla High School Class of 2013” to use their voices to advance racial justice.

“Keep up the momentum and the pressure, because we have a long way to go,” she said.

During the last stop before the beach, volunteer Kisi Apaak acknowledged that the question on many people’s minds is “What now”?

“In order to change the world, we must first change ourselves,” she said. “This is important stuff we are doing right now, and we are the ones who are going to change the world. I just want everyone to realize I do not want to be standing here. I have to be here. There are a lot of allies here, which I am grateful for, but you can put down your signs, you can delete your Instagram post. I can’t take off my black skin. This is about my life. …

“This cannot become a trend. This is everything, and if we treat it that way, change will happen.” ◆