Protesters march on anniversary of George Floyd’s death

Protestors+assemble+along+San+Antonio+Road+on+the+anniversary+of+George+Floyd%E2%80%99s+death+

Elyssa Kennedy

Protestors assemble along San Antonio Road on the anniversary of George Floyd’s death

By Olivia Hewang, Los Altos High School

Familiar chants of “I can’t breathe” and “Say his name” rang through the streets of Los Altos on Tuesday afternoon as activists marched from Los Altos High School to the intersection of San Antonio and El Camino Real where hundreds of protestors gathered last June to mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death. 

Organized by LAHS’s Black Student Union (BSU), local activist group Justice Vanguard and LAHS history teacher Seth Donnelly, the protest brought together dozens of community members as well as students and staff from across the Mountain View–Los Altos District to reflect on a historic year and to demand further change.

“We’re tired of all the symbolic gestures, and it’s time for actual systematic change,” said Justice Vanguard Co-Founder Kiyoshi Taylor, ’15, who is currently campaigning for the removal of student resource officers (SROs) from Mountain View High School and the addition of ethnic studies to the district curriculum. 

Taylor reflected on the first Black Lives Matter protest he and Donnelly held in 2015 to denounce the deaths of several Black men at the hands of police — including Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner — which around 20 students participated in. 

“Fast forwarding to 2020, the amount of energy is crazy, something I would never have imagined,” Taylor said. “But there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.” 

Speakers at the protest stressed the importance of education and continuing conversations about race in the community. 

“Education is key. It’s how we’re going to stop the police killings, it’s how we’re going to fight all this injustice,” Taylor said. “Because you can’t make a solution if you don’t truly understand the problem.”

“I’ve spent my entire life educating other people and telling them about slavery, about Black history, about people who have been wronged,” former BSU President senior Sierra Desrosiers said. “I want you guys to know that you can educate yourself. You don’t have to wait for someone like me to come and tell you what’s going on.”  

For some, the new experience of participating in last year’s protests was a wake up call to participate in greater activism. 

“I’ve been a bit involved but I was definitely part of the ‘great white awakening’ as far as active activism,” one protestor said. “I’m raising two little white boys and I don’t want them to ever not understand what privilege they hold, and this is part of that.” 

BSU Officer junior Aida Yezalaleul, said that social media has played a large part in raising awareness.

“It was kind of a world-shaking moment,” she said when asked about Floyd’s death. “[Online activism] has been such a driving factor in why so many more people are talking about it. People may say I’m silly but these infographics, spreading awareness on Instagram and stuff like that — it helps. At least younger people are getting more involved in what’s happening in our society.” 

Several teachers at the protest said that they showed up to send a message but also to support students. 

“I love seeing young people, who I think are going to be the change in the future, show up and share their opinions,” social studies teacher Megan Blach said. “For me, it’s just beautiful to see the hope that this generation brings to us.

This story was originally published on The Talon on May 27, 2021.