Peaceful protests against police brutality were held Tuesday in Brea and Yorba Linda, while Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do bemoaned the series of in-custody deaths that have sparked unrest nationally.
About 500 protesters gathered about 1 p.m. at Birch and Bear streets in Brea and then marched down to Imperial Highway, Brea police Lt. Tim Mercado said.
“They were abiding by the traffic signals, and stayed out of the street, which was great,” he said. “We had almost no interaction with the protesters at all.”
The group paused at the civic center near police headquarters and kneeled for a minute before moving on, Mercado said.
Another protest involving about 100 people was held on Main Street in Yorba Linda, with no problems reported.
During Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Do called for “substantial reforms” in law enforcement.
“We must recognize that reform is difficult because this has to happen at the local level,” he said. “In California, our hands are tied by state law. It is up to the … sheriff and district attorney of Orange County to see justice done.”
Do added, “We could begin this process by setting expectations that police are a part of us, not apart from us.”
He decried how a police officer in Minneapolis “snuffed out” the life of George Floyd, who was “voluntarily complying,” while three other officers failed to intervene.
After Floyd’s death, police “attempted to sweep it under the rug” as a case of resisting arrest, Do said, but a bystander captured video of the officer holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes while he was on the ground, pleading that he could not breathe. That officer has been charged with murder, and authorities are considering charges against the other three. All four were fired.
“A week later, after a mountain of evidence showing overwhelmingly police misconduct and after widespread condemnation, including many from the law enforcement community, only one person is arrested,” Do said. “It is too little, too late. This murder was horrendous and unconscionable.”
Do added, “One has to wonder if the conduct would be different if the suspect was white.”
“When biases are systemic, re-occurring and widespread, do we require video tape from multiple angles before we believe mistreatment?” he said.
Do also noted the fatal shooting of Atatiana Jefferson in Fort Worth Texas last October, the chokehold killing of Eric Garner in New York City six years ago, and the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia in February. And he raised the issue of Amy Cooper, a white woman who called police on a black man in New York’s Central Park, claiming he was attacking her.
“To this day, she has not been charged with filing a false police deport,” Do said. “For every one of these incidents, how many have gone without redress, because people, normal people, don’t go through their life with a camera fixed on them in order to serve as proof. A lot of Americans will quote the Constitution and say that everyone is equal, so, therefore, the system is fair. But when a paper promise is not enforced, it is meaningless. That’s true in any contract as it is true in our national social compact.”
Do said armed white demonstrators protesting stay-at-home orders in Michigan were allowed to “get in the face” of police in the state capitol “with impunity.” The supervisor questioned whether the protesters would even be allowed into the building if they had been “black or people of color.”
During the pandemic, “many things we took for granted are luxuries, and so much that was hidden from us through our everyday life has become clearer,” Do said. “This is a period of not just tumult in our society, but also for introspection, both individual and collective. It can be a pivotal moment if we so choose, despite the multiple voices trying to divide us, but we the bulk of Americans are united.”
He added, “We have the power of our own agency. We can choose to make a difference, and I hope we do as a country. If we don’t do it now, change won’t be happening for a long time.”
Do called for a “moment of silence” to “stand together to remember George Floyd and to stand together to fight against racism and pay a tribute to Mr. Floyd as well as to the people who have been victims of racism.”
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