By Leo Cabral
As protests against police brutality continue across the nation, hundreds gathered in solidarity at the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial statue outside the Riverside County Administration Building.
Many local prominent Black elected officials, civil rights leaders and union workers spoke at the vigil for victims of racial violence June 4.
Reminiscent of the protest that took place in Downtown Riverside on June 1, a large police presence was seen on the other side of City Hall on Tenth Street and on surrounding rooftops.
Organizations like the local 721 chapter of the Service Employees International Union, Inland Empire Democratic Socialists of America, the Inland Empire chapter of 100 Black Men of America and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) collaborated an event with music, powerful speeches and resources for anyone interested in getting involved.
Speakers called for an end to the unjust system that disproportionately targets the Black community.
“Change has never come because we’ve been nice about it and asked,” said Cheylynda Barnard, an executive board member of Local 721.”It’s come because we demanded it. So I’m here today to say that I demand a change and I demand that they fix the system.”
NAACP volunteers handed out voter registration forms and pamphlets as speakers recollected their experiences with racial injustice and called for action from the community.
According to Barnard, voting is the way to replace complacent officials who refuse to listen to the community. She demanded that everyone show up to the polls to say “enough is enough.”
“If you don’t want to listen to us you gotta go,” said Jalel Braden, an NAACP volunteer who has lost loved ones to racial violence. “I’m just here like everybody else because I understand that shared pain.”
Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey and Congressman Mark Takano were present to show their support.
“I am here because we cannot have one more of these deaths,” Takano said. “We must condemn it. We must bring the police officers who did this, who killed George Floyd, to justice.”
The vigil commenced at 6 p.m. Individuals who stayed behind afterward gathered around the Martin Luther king Jr. statue to take pictures, spread information and be there for one another.