A protest against police brutality was underway in Coachella Wednesday evening, as local actions stemming from the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody continued in the Coachella Valley for a second week.
Demonstrators met at Veterans Memorial Park where they were expected to remain until 9 p.m. for a “peaceful protest honoring everyone that was killed due to police brutality,” according to the organizer.
The effort was organized by 21-year-old Nicole Smith of La Quinta, who has spearheaded several similar efforts across the valley since last week. She previously said her goal was to promote peaceful protesting that unites with law enforcement.
Police chiefs from three Coachella Valley police departments are scheduled to join local officials, faith leaders and activists on Thursday for a virtual news conference about racial justice organized by Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, aimed at finding a path forward toward “unity, justice, and equality in our community,” according to Ruiz’s office.
Those scheduled to attend the 10:45 a.m. news conference on the Zoom Video conferencing include Palm Springs Police Department Chief Bryan Reyes, Indio Police Department Chief Mike Washburn, Cathedral City Police Department Chief George Crum, along with current and former city council members from the eastern Coachella Valley.
About 100 people gathered at Miles Avenue Park in Indio Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of Floyd and other black lives lost to alleged police brutality.
Members of the group “We Are Indio” were among those who wrote the names of nearly 100 black people who were killed on a sidewalk.
“It’s important to keep those legacies alive, let those folks in the community know that we’re here, that we stand for change and we demand change,” one of the event’s organizers, April Skinner, told KESQ.
“It’s important as a community to know that we come together. We’re united as a front.”
Washburn told the crowd his department has rewritten 96 policies this year.
“Progressive agencies like Indio don’t wait for a crisis to make changes that we know need to be made,” Washburn said.
Two other peaceful protests took place in the Coachella Valley on Monday, one in Palm Springs and the other in Desert Hot Springs.
More than 100 people, including many children, showed up at Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs and later marched down Palm Canyon Drive.
Earlier in the day, about two dozen protesters marched and played music along Palm Drive near Two Bunch Palms Trail in Desert Hot Springs, some toting signs saying “Latinx 4 Black Lives” and “You Can’t Kill Us All.”
Motorists passing by honked in support while police kept watch from afar.
Similar demonstrations, most of them problem-free, were held throughout the Coachella Valley last week and over the weekend, with a gathering Saturday at Ruth Hardy Park among the largest.
About 1,000 people turned out for the “Enough is Enough” protest organized by a group of eight teens who go by the name “Young Justice Advocates.”
Meanwhile, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors declined Tuesday to vote on a proposal to review policies for the sheriff’s department.
The motion was offered by Chairman V. Manuel Perez on Friday in the aftermath of Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and unrest across the nation.
Perez’s motion, which would have called for Sheriff Chad Bianco to meet with County CEO George Johnson to review the department’s use-of-force and other policies, did not get the required second it needed from another board member.
“I saw a man that was killed right there on the street on video while nobody intervened — while a cop was sitting on top of him,” Bianco told the board.
“That hurt everything I am, as a law enforcement officer and us as a law enforcement community, as we all watch that you will not find one law enforcement officer in this country that would stand behind what they did.”
Bianco said his department is “completely” transparent and pointed out that the department’s policies are available for public viewing online.
The board did approve a resolution condemning what happened to Floyd.