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1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
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| Monday, Jun 8, 2020
National Guards at SCV Protest
MacKenzie Jones, 15, holds a sign at the Black Lives Matter protest, Thursday, June 4, as the National Guard rolls in. Photo: Pearl Obispo.

 

Pearl ObispoAs a mom of three, I often wonder if my children listen to the stories and life lessons I try to convey. Raising decent, kind human beings is hard enough, let alone raise them in a world that can seem so cruel and unfair – to some more so than others.

By now, we have all seen the video of a white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while Floyd gasped, “I can’t breathe.” Floyd later died on scene. We’ve also seen the video of two white vigilantes in Georgia who are accused of chasing down and murdering Ahmaud Arbery as he was jogging through a neighborhood. We’ve also heard the names Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castille, Breonna Taylor – all whose lives have ended at the hands of police.

Part of being a parent is having an open, meaningful, yet sometimes uncomfortable dialogue about the ugly realities of life. My husband and I try hard to remind our kids to have empathy toward the plight of others and never be afraid to speak up for those who might not have a voice. We tell them this, but if presented with an opportunity to speak out against something they believe is wrong such as racism and police brutality, will my children have the courage to stand up against such injustices?

So, when my 15-year-old daughter came into my room recently and said, “Mama, I want to go to the Black Lives Matter protest out here,” I was torn. On the one hand, I was so proud of her. I thought, “Wow, she is paying attention. She’s socially aware. She gets it.” And on the other, I thought, “Damn – there’s a pandemic.”

It weighed on me, for sure. We helped flatten the curve, leaving the house only a few times since March to drop off food and other essentials to my parents and a couple of friends. Do we both go and risk contracting the virus, then possibly transmit it to other members of our family? If I don’t take her, will she think I’m a hypocrite for always reminding her to do the right thing, yet when the opportunity presented itself, I caved?

I asked her why she wanted to go. She said she wanted to lend her support to the Black Lives Matter movement because what happened to George Floyd and so many others was not right.

She understood this was not an anti-police protest. It was a protest against police brutality and acts of racism. She knows the majority of cops in this country are good, brave men and women who put their lives on the line and do amazing work, protecting their communities. She knows from experience that deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station were there on campus, protecting her, her friends, fellow classmates and teachers during the tragic shooting at Saugus High School, where two students were killed and three others injured before the young gunman took his own life.

As I sat there still trying to determine whether we should take part, rumors swirled last Wednesday that made my decision even more difficult. Rumors about hundreds of outsiders being bused in to cause problems, outsiders that included hundreds of armed neo-Nazis. Even Mayor Cameron Smyth looked and sounded concerned at a press conference announcing the National Guard would be coming to Santa Clarita on Thursday. Then I got a message that a group called Oath Keepers, an anti-government, far-right organization associated with militia movement, had arrived in the city.

What do I do? The only thing I could do – pray. Give me a sign, I asked as I looked out the window. Then that Wednesday night, we had an earthquake. I thought, “Oh God, is that THEE sign, not to go?”

Thursday morning came, and I still hadn’t made up my mind. As I went downstairs, I came across the signs my daughter made. And there it was – a sign. Literally. A sign that I needed, pun intended. It read:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Bishop Desmond Tutu.

Protest Signs

That was it. I knew we needed to be there. We gathered our masks, hand sanitizer and the remaining sanitizing wipes we had. We discussed staying away from the fray. We discussed where to meet in case we got separated. We made sure we didn’t get too close to anyone because of the pandemic. If other protestors got too close, we would move. We decided that we weren’t going to stay for long. One, because I was working. Two, because we still weren’t sure of the possible chaos that might ensue.

Pearl Obispo and daughter MacKenzie Jones at Black Lives Matter Protest Santa Clarita

My daughter MacKenzie Jones and I at the Black Lives Matter Protest in Santa Clarita, Thursday, June 4, 2020.

In the 45 minutes we were there, we witnessed many strangers offering water, young kids, adults, people from all different backgrounds and color in solidarity for one important cause. Chants of “I can’t breathe,” “No justice no peace.” Drivers honking their in horns agreement. A few drivers giving us the middle finger. We can’t all agree. That’s OK, too. But all in all, it was a peaceful protest. It felt right to be there. Democracy in action, and we were part of it.

Will these protests help implement change? Will they help end racial injustice and systemic racism? Will they help in creating policy that would make us all equal in the eyes of the law? Only time will tell. But if and when they do, my daughter can say she was part of a movement that listened. A movement that helped create change. A change to help make this world a better place.

 

Pearl Obispo is a Santa Clarita resident and SCVTV news reporter.

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1 Comment

  1. Eva says:

    What a great example for other kids her age! What a great example for Mothers Everywhere! Kudos to both Mom and Daughter. You are Rockstars! ~Peace and Love~

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