Riverside comes together to celebrate Juneteenth

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An artist uses stencils on an open canvas at the Juneteenth celebration at Fairmount Park in Riverside. (Erik Galicia | Viewpoints)

By Erik Galicia

A celebration broke out amidst nationwide protests against police brutality to honor Juneteenth at Fairmount Park in Riverside.

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, the day Union forces issued the emancipation of slaves in Galveston, Texas. President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation at the start of 1863, but the Civil War raged on and it would be over two years before slaves in Galveston received word of the end of legal slavery as it had been known in America for centuries.

The Inland Empire chapter of Black Lives Matter organized the event, which included artwork, live music and food. Speakers also commemorated Black people who have been killed by law enforcement and continued the call for an end to the police.

“In order for Black people to stop getting killed, we know we have to abolish the police,” said Broderick Dunlap, a Black Lives Matter I.E. representative. 

The Louisville, Kentucky Metro Council passed a ban on no-knock warrants on June 11. The bill was named “Breonna’s Law,” after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed by plainclothes Louisville police officers during a no-knock search at her home March 13. The Louisville Metro Police Department initiated the termination of Officer Brett Hankinson June 19 due to the shooting, three months after the incident.

Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with the second-degree murder of George Floyd and the other three officers involved have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

Broderick Dunlap, a Black Lives Matter I.E. representative, speaks about Juneteenth and ending police brutality. (Erik Galicia | Viewpoints)

Broderick Dunlap, a Black Lives Matter I.E. representative, said “Breonna’s Law” and the charges against the Minneapolis officers is progress, but called for continued action.

“Keep pushing,” he said.

Representatives admitted that the quest for equality has historically excluded Black women and the Black LGBTQ+ community, adding that the movement must be inclusive of these groups moving forward.

“We have to protect Black women, Black trans women and Black trans men,” Dunlap said. “We’re not gonna be free until all Black people are free.”

Hundreds gathered in the park, some painting on open canvases, some playing basketball and some enjoying barbecue.

“There should be more of this,” said Dee Musa, an attendee. “It brings people together for positive change. Although there are many strangers here, it’s like a family reunion with one main goal of equality and justice for Black and Brown people.”

Another attendee, Rosalynn Houston, said that although she felt as if most people were unaware of Juneteenth and its history before this year, the rise in awareness for the holiday allows for further unification of people against racial injustice.

“The most important word today is ‘love,’” Houston said. “We’re coming together for love.”

Volunteers serve barbecue and more to people celebrating Juneteenth at Fairmount Park. (Erik Galicia | Viewpoints)
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