Hundreds Protest in Long Beach to Demand Defund the Police, Justice for George Floyd

6 Jun

Hundreds protested, chanted, rallied and heard speakers, on Friday, June 5, at Harvey Milk Promenade Park at 185 E. Third St., denouncing the Long Beach Police Department, calling to defund the police and for justice for the many killed by police nationally, particularly most recently George Floyd who died in custody while a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck.

Poster, at BLM-LB protest, Friday, June 5, 2020; photo by Barry Saks

Black Lives Matter Long Beach with its community allies, according to BLM-LB Facebook, announced the protest.  The crowd was multi-ethnic, with many young people of color.

The park was filled to capacity with many people on the other side of Third Street.  Before the rally the crowd with their signs chanted: “Police, no Peace,” “Don’t Shoot,” “Black Lives Matter,” “I can’t breathe,”

Someone would call out, “Say his name” and in response the crowd would say, “George Floyd” and other times someone would call out, “Say her name and in response the crowd would say, “Breonna Taylor,” a 26-year-old emergency room technician killed in her home by Louisville police in the early morning hours of March 13 as part of a narcotics investigation.

Other times, the call would be, “Hands Up” and the crowd would respond with “Don’t Shoot” or the call would be, “What do we want?” and the crowd would respond with “Justice” or the call would be “No Justice” and the crowd would respond with “No Peace” or the call would be “No racist” and the crowd would respond “Police.”

Dawn Modkins, a leader of Black Lives Matter-Long Beach, emcees Friday, June 5, 2020, protest; photo by Barry Saks

The rally with speakers was emceed by Dawn Modkins, who characterized herself as a founder of BLM-LB.  Modkins said after seven years of responding to the killings by LBPD she was tired.  She said, “We want an end to the war on black people…We want to end white supremacy… We’re not just talking about in Georgia, we’re not just talking about in Minneapolis, we are talking about right here in the City of Long Beach.  We want to defund the police.”

She said divesting in police means cutting LBPD ties with the school district, but added it means investing in our children, in care, ethnic studies, ending zero tolerance, more black teachers, more academic counseling and tutoring and more school psychologists.

Modkins introduced Tahesha Christiansen.  Christiansen, who said she is a member of the Omaha tribe, and added the indigenous were standing in solidarity with BLM.

After Christiansen, Modkins spoke about the day, Fredrick Taft, 57 years-old, was murdered in the men’s bathroom in Pan American Park.  Modkins said Taft’s sister “saw a white man with a gun on his side” leaving the bathroom and added on benches in the park were the words, “KKK” and “Fuck Niggers.”  Modkins said the LBPD did not investigate the murder until after BLM-LB began its own investigation. 

Poster at BLM-LB Protest, Friday, June 5, 2020; photo by Barry Saks

According to news reports, Taft was shot Saturday, July 21, 2018, in the upper torso.  More than four months later, the Long Beach Press-Telegram of Nov. 28, 2018, reported the LBPD issued a sketch of the man who killed Taft.

Representatives of Anakbahan Long Beach, whose Facebook Page calls itself a progressive Filipino youth organization, and Gabriela South Bay, whose Facebook Page calls itself a grassroots organization of Filipinas, expressed their organizations’ solidarity with BLM-LB.

Porter Gilberg, Long Beach Citizen Complaint Police Commissioner, speaks, on Friday, June 5, 2020, to the crowd about the Long Beach CPCC.

Last to speak was Porter Gilberg, who is District 2 Commissioner of the Long Beach Citizen Police Complaint Commission.  Gilberg, who is the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Center of Long Beach, said the Commission is a farce; it is not an oversight body; it can only make recommendations.  He said the Commissioners do not make any decisions.  He said he was required to go on a ride-along with LBPD, where the police mis-gendered him.

After Gilberg spoke, the crowd chanting with their signs marched through the streets of Long Beach.

Poster at BLM-LB protest, Friday, June 5, 2020; photo by Barry Saks

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