Black Lives Matter protests and marches have been continuing through San Luis Obispo County since June. Many Morro Bay High School students have attended and showed support with their signs and voices. There is a group on campus called “Students for Social Justice” and local groups like Skaters for Justice who are protesting in SLO county. Both groups are taking a stand for what they believe in and continue to demand for justice where justice is due.
Students who have attended local protests over the past few months have experienced a variety of environments. Sophomore Lily Rodgers said protests are “safe, peaceful, and filled with unity and joy.” Other local organizers said that their experience being a big part of protests were “enlightening and uplifting,” but later saw negativity in the community baring its teeth through social media. “Media can help us unite, but unfortunately it also plays a role in spreading false information and content that paints the Black Lives Matter protesters to be violent and “Looters”.”
Protests have been going on worldwide recently, and for many reasons. Most protests have been related to the Black Lives Matter movement, which is dedicated to racial injustice in America. These protests were started for many reasons, such as the local arrest of Tianna Arata and the killings of many people of color by the police. The Black Lives Matter movement all started in 2013 to fight against racial discrimination. In May 2020, George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota by multiple police officers. One officer had his knee on Floyd’s neck, and he cried for help but never got it and later passed. After news spread about what had happened, protests began all over the world, and they still continue today.
A group of people gathered at the corner of Monterey and Chorro Street in San Luis Obispo to protest on September 4 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m to demand that the charges against Tianna Arata be dropped but also to remind residents of SLO County to register to vote. It was district attorney Dan Dow’s birthday that same day and many of the chants and speeches were directed toward him. “Hey you, Dan Dow, drop the charges right now!” Protests like this have been happening continuously in SLO County to demand change in our community. Cars going by honked and made peace signs on their hands out the window. Near the end of the protest, they encouraged people to register to vote Dan Dow out of office and had the forms available there.
One of the most active peaceful protest groups is Skaters for Justice, a group based in the Central Coast. They are a family friendly and educational organization that uses skateboards and rollerblades while they demand justice for Tiana Arata and Elias Bautista. The organizer of the Skaters for Justice group is a history major and felt strongly about the situation. “I definitely always knew what I believed and what I stand for but I realized I was crying quietly on the sidelines. I knew that if I didn’t join the movement and those who are out in the streets protesting, I would regret it in the future.” She went on to say that they are taking every precaution to stay safe while protesting. “Everyone who participated was wearing a mask. Once we arrived at the courthouse there was plenty of room, so we also social distanced. The only people who take their mask off during the event are the leaders using the bullhorns.”
In the eyes of the participants, these protests could be far from over. “…I believe that history is not a force acting upon us, we ourselves are historical actors and agents, we make, create, write ourselves in, and drive history and historical change” said the Skaters for Justice organizer. The Skaters for Justice are still pushing for release of Tianna Arata and justice for Elias Bautista. With that being said, they are excited to organize the next protest in the Central Coast area.