3 VIDEOS: Benicia Police join with protesters, take a knee to honor George Floyd

Youth Against Violence rally, march, and then confront Benicia Police, who join them in respect and solidarity

Three videos tell the story…

Video by Dr. Teresa Van Woy
The youth of Benicia California gather for a peaceful march following the death of George Floyd. A peaceful gathering at the gazebo followed by a march down First Street, ended up at the Benicia Police Station where officers took a knee to the protesters.

Video by Constance Beutel
Youth in Benicia organized a protest of the murder of George Floyd

Video by Elijah Harris
On May 31, Benicia youth and supporting adults protested police violence against unarmed Black citizens, following the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. After a large rally at City Park, 300 or more protesters marched peacefully down First Street, rallied some more at Marina Green, and then marched to Benicia’s Police Station. When protesters took a knee, some of Benicia’s police joined them. Eventually all the officers joined on a knee and everyone took a moment of silence. Thank you, Benicia Police! Thank you Benicia youth!

Benicia Youth Against Brutality rally draws huge crowd

By Roger Straw, May 31, 2020

Hundreds of Voices of Anger, Impatience and Hopeful, Peaceful Protest

Benicia’s Youth Against Brutality rally, City Park, May 31, 2020, 11AM. Photo: Roger Straw

Unofficial estimates put the crowd at Benicia’s Youth Against Brutality rally at over 300.

One of the high school organizers welcomed everyone and began with a recording of Sam Cook’s 1964 soul anthem, “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will
I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will…

The crowd assembled in masks and mostly maintained social distancing of 6 feet.

This reporter wasn’t able to get names of all the young speakers, but every one was moving and articulate.  The crowd was with them all the way, clapping, raising signs, and whooping from under their masks.

After the mic was opened for a short time to anyone who wanted to speak, the speakers and organizers led the crowd peacefully down sidewalks on First Street to Marina Green.

We hope to have video and more pics in a later post.
UPDATE: See 3 VIDEOS: Benicia Police join with protesters, take a knee to honor George Floyd

Benicia students organize Youth Against Brutality rally, Sunday May 31, 11AM City Park

By Roger Straw, May 30, 2020

Several Benicia High School students are organizing a YOUTH AGAINST BRUTALITY rally to be held on Sunday, May 31 at 11am.

The Facebook event gives details: Join us for a rally this Sunday, May 31st at 11AM to protest racism and hatred. Meet at the First Street Park in Benicia, near the Gazebo. This will be a peaceful protest with respect to social distancing. Wear a mask, bring friends, make a sign, or whatever you please. Please repost this! Let’s make it known that we do not support racism and fight for those who have lost and fear for their lives because of it. Black lives matter. We will march down First St. at noon.

I tracked down the two organizers, who prefers to remain anonymous.  “This protest and movement is much larger than us,” one graduating senior said, “and we do not wish to receive recognition for organizing this.”  His co-organizer, a junior at Benicia High, added, “It’s just the two of us ‘officially’ and I put that in quotations because we are just the people who decided a date and a time. The people who show up and march are the ones who really make it a protest.”  A third student at Benicia High is responsible for making the Facebook event.

Asked about the purpose of the rally, one of the young organizers said, “I was inspired to organize this protest after the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery and more recently, George Floyd. After hearing of the many protests around the nation, I realized that a small community like Benicia could benefit from a rally like this. Racism needs to be fought. I saw an opportunity to bring our community together to fight racism and injustice in this country and I took it.  This is about showing our support while standing up against racism and police brutality.”

His colleague added, “Personally, it’s been something that’s been boiling in me for a while. I remember being 10 and hearing about the Trayvon Martin case and I thought it would be a onetime thing. But of course, it kept happening and showed itself as a real issue in America. I see the protest as an opportunity to make a difference in my community and to give angry people a chance to speak. We specifically chose this Sunday so it would align with the protest in Berkeley.”

The protest has been promoted on many social media sites, including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook.  Nearly 60 people have claimed to be attending the event on Facebook. Nearly 90 people have claimed to be interested in going.  Organizers anticipate at least 50 to show up.

Several speakers will make brief statements at the city park.  A moment of silence will be observed before marching down the sidewalks of First street.

Asked about City permitting, the organizers said they went to the Benicia Police Department on May 29 to receive information regarding obtaining a permit. “Unfortunately, who we spoke with was unsure as to whether or not one was needed and the city’s planning department was closed. So we did not obtain a permit. However, Benicia Police had already caught wind of the situation and we spoke with a very respectful and supportive sergeant. We explained our intentions to them and they let us know that police presence would be there. I understand that having the police there threatens our protest and its protesters but I am very confident that Benicia Police supports us and is willing to cooperate with us. We all want this to be peaceful and safe.”

I’ll be there at 11 on Sunday – hope to see you, too!

One Bay Area county health officer says California is reopening too soon

Santa Clara health officer Sara Cody suggests California is reopening too soon

Politico, by Victoria Colliver, May 26, 2020
Sara Cody | AP Photo
Santa Clara Public Health Officer Sara Cody | AP Photo

OAKLAND — The local public health officer who led the nation’s first regional shelter-in-place order early in the Covid-19 pandemic sounded the alarm Tuesday on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s swift reopening plans, which now allow haircuts and church services.

After keeping the state largely in lockdown since March 19, Newsom has quickly advanced counties that meet certain criteria — now up to 47 out of 58 counties — through his reopening phases. Newsom announced Tuesday that barbers and hair salons can reopen in those 47 counties, a day after he said religious gatherings and protests could occur with up to 100 people.

“The pace at which the state has made these modifications is concerning to me,” Santa Clara Public Health Officer Sara Cody told the county Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday afternoon meeting, noting that other states have exercised more caution, including New Jersey, which limited such gatherings to 25 people, and New York, where no more than 10 are allowed.

Cody stressed to the board that at least a full incubation period of 14 days — and preferably 21 days — is needed to effectively gauge the impact of each step of the reopening process.

“The state modifications are being made without a real understanding of the consequences of what the last move has been, and with the possible serious effects for health and possible serious risks or an exponential growth in cases,” she told the board.

Hair salons and barbers are in the third phase of Newsom’s reopening plan, though nail and facial salons, which have more direct contact, still must remain closed.

The governor on Monday also allowed retailers statewide to resume in-store sales if allowed by their county; his previous guidance only allowed such business activities in counties that hit certain benchmarks.

Cody was most disturbed by Newsom’s actions to expand the number of people allowed to gather in public, a move she warned would overwhelm “our current ambitious and unprecedented effort” to establish a large network to track and trace the spread of the virus as the state reopens.

Not only did Cody lead six Bay Area counties in imposing the nation’s first shelter-in-place order on March 16, but she was also first to ban large gatherings such as concerts and pro sporting events earlier that month.

Just two weeks ago, Newsom, under pressure from mostly smaller counties that had relatively few or no cases of the coronavirus, allowed the first two counties — Butte and El Dorado — to move into the second phase of the state’s reopening plan, which involved curbside retail pickup and resuming mostly niche businesses like car washes and pet groomers.

But the number of counties given the green light quickly mushroomed to include many large counties, including Orange, Riverside, Sacramento and San Diego.

Santa Clara, along with most of the other central Bay Area counties, has opted not to move ahead, as had Los Angeles. But the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors on Tuesday announced plans to submit an application to reopen more quickly.

Newsom, during Tuesday’s press conference, was asked how state and local officials would be able to detect clusters of outbreaks given the pace of the reopening. He responded by touting the state’s stabilizing hospitalization rates, increased testing capacity and growing workforce of “contact tracers” who track down people who may have been exposed to the virus.

Cody said she wants to reopen Santa Clara County — but only when safe to do so. Santa Clara was one of the nation’s first hot spots for the virus but slowed the spread and was eventually overtaken in California by Los Angeles and other Southern California counties. Santa Clara reported 24 new cases out of a total of 2,675, and no new deaths beyond its total of 139.

“If our overall rate of transmission remains stable, we will be able to continue to ease our restrictions and safely reopen activities on a regular cadence with at least an incubation period between each phase,” Cody said.