LocationAlhambra , CA
It was roughly 1 p.m. Wednesday when roughly 200 people began marching from Almansor Park to Alhambra’s City Hall. The 1.4 mile walk in 95-degree heat was in support of Black lives – specifically that Black Lives Matter and should be treated with the same respect, equality and justice that much of the rest of society is afforded.
This march was Alhambra’s contribution to the protests that have been sweeping the nation – and world – in reaction to the high-profile killing in Minneapolis of a Black man by police officers on Memorial Day. George Floyd died of asphyxiation – after having an officer kneel on his neck for almost nine minutes – while being arrested.
Wednesday’s peaceful protest was coordinated by a few Alhambra Unified School District students, who thought they needed to do something here, at home. Social media and word of mouth was used to generate interest for the march.
Alhambra Police Department was notified by the students of the march plans around 4 p.m. Tuesday and Lt. Tai Seki told Alhambra Source that they were eager to help. The group asked for their support and APD offered escort cars and blocked traffic as the march moved through the city. Officers were present at City Hall, too.
Daniel Flores, one of the coordinators of the march and Alhambra High School senior, said over the phone on Tuesday night that he knew 15 people who were going and was worried about a small turnout. Wednesday morning he texted Alhambra Source, “Turns out there might be more than a hundred people.” Alhambra Source asked Flores if he was surprised at the turnout. His response: “Very.”
Face coverings were encouraged, water, juice and snacks were given out at Almansor and along the route, and Flores addressed the crowd at Almansor Park to remind everyone they were there for a common cause. Flores asked that everyone be respectful, peaceful and spread the message: Black lives matter.
The group marched up Chapel Avenue to Main Street, west on Main to Second Street and down to City Hall.
Standing at City Hall under the city seal, protesters gave first-person accounts of injustices they’ve faced, why they’re supporting justice and equality for Black lives and their visions for the future.
Signs of familiar Black Lives Matter – BLM – slogans were not only in English. Many protestors brought non-English signage, mostly Asian languages. The City of Alhambra has a large immigrant population, many of them are non-English speaking, or English is not their preferred language.
According to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey’s 1-Year Estimates, only 2% of Alhambra identifies as Black, while 46% is Asian. L.A. County is 6% and 16%, respectively.
Alhambra Public Information Officer Van Nguyen announced Wednesday morning on Nextdoor that the city was aware of the march and “working with the organizers to keep the protest peaceful.”
City Council Member Jeff Maloney posted his support on his Facebook that he is proud of those “exercising their right to peaceably assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” He also said, “There is no reason to believe that this assembly will be hijacked for any nefarious purposes. I’m confident that these protesters and Alhambra residents would not stand for that.”
There were no counter protests in-person, though online, before the march, there seemed to be some community members who disapproved of a local protest. Those voicing opposition for a protest or for Black Lives Matter included members of the Alhambra, CA Facebook group and in posts on Nextdoor and Twitter.
One notable voice was Beatrice Cardenas, who is running against Judy Chu for the 27th congressional district seat. While Cardenas apparently tweets for police reform and in opposition of police brutality, she also replied to one of the student organizers in a not-so-thinly-veiled threat on Twitter, “Best keep it peaceful. Residents here are armed to the teeth and won’t condone destruction to their businesses.” The tweet has since been deleted.
After the protest in those same online forums, residents seemed encouraged and happy that the protest had gone well, and some asked if others were scheduled.
Other local politicians showed up to support. Council Member Adele Andrade-Stadler was present at Almansor Park. She was seen talking to the student organizers. Sasha Renée Pérez, who is running for city council, completed the march.
Andrea Lofthouse-Quesada, an activist, AHS teacher and former planning commissioner, came prepared with Lysol, hand sanitizer and poster-making supplies.
A note about curfew and protests:
The County of Los Angeles has continuously used and extended the curfew through the last days of protests. The situation is fluid. Alhambra PD seem to be less engaged in their enforcement than some viral videos of other L.A. cities’ residents being rushed and pulled out of their cars after curfew. However, a countywide curfew is mandatory.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva previously said he would renew the curfew “until the organized protests are gone,” but walked back on Wednesday on KTLA5 saying, they “definitely want to reward good behavior.”
Thursday morning, Villanueva issued a statement that county deputy sheriffs will no longer be enforcing a curfew, however, “other jurisdictions are free to make their own decisions.”
Any changes to the county curfew apply to the City of Alhambra. If you don’t have emergency alerts activated on your phone, now would be a good time to do that. Even if you’re not near a television or on the internet, county curfew change is blasted out using that emergency system – just like flash flood warnings, AMBER alerts and other emergencies – so you won’t miss it.