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Members of the Riverside community show solidarity at vigil for victims of racial violence

Candles and flowers left at the feet of the Martin Luther King statue in Downtown Riverside by community members in attendance of the candlelight vigil for victims of racial violence June 4. (Leo Cabral | Viewpoints)

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Video Description: A vigil was held in Downtown Riverside to honor all of the victims of racial violence as tensions increase throughout the country.
Video by Daniel Hernandez | Viewpoints
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.

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