Photo Credits: Benjamin Cheng / Aggie. Black Lives Matter protestors march through the Richards Underpass after rallying at the Richards Boulevard Overpass where protestors faced officers from Davis PD and the California Highway Patrol on Sunday, May 31.
Student activists inspired by Black Lives Matter protests across nation call for change in Davis community
Protesters in Davis took to the streets this weekend to speak out against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd, a Black man killed by police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday. The demonstrators — a crowd of around 80 to 100 students and community members who marched through Downtown Davis — were among the thousands of Americans involved in ongoing protests and demonstrations focused on racism and police brutality that took place in cities around the country and the world.
Kevin Kimura, a second-year economics major and one of the organizers for Saturday’s protest, said he wanted to organize a peaceful protest after connecting with Davis students over social media.
“Out of the blue, I decided to post something on the Wildfire app, and some people responded saying they wanted to protest as well,” Kimura said. “I wasn’t expecting that, but that’s where it took off.”
Another student organizer for Saturday’s protest is Maya Martinez, a second-year biological sciences major. Martinez said she felt compelled to act after seeing social media posts about Floyd’s death and the news coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests happening across the country.
“I was just outraged because this has been a regular occurrence in people’s lives,” Martinez said. “As someone who is non-Black but who has also experienced other types of injustice and racism, I just wanted to help in any way I could — while also understanding my role as an ally.”
Kimura explained that he and those who responded to his post became the main organizers for Saturday’s event. Together they planned the route, created a Facebook page and drew fliers to be shared on social media. Kimura also informed the Davis Police Department ahead of the protest.
“In preparation, I actually notified the Davis P.D. before the protests were happening,” Kimura said. “They were essentially escorting us, but the goal was basically to keep the protest peaceful because we were expecting outside groups to come in.”
While the protest on Saturday had structure and a public Facebook page, Sunday’s protest was different. Various fliers circulated around Wildfire that called for a protest beginning at the intersection of Anderson Road and Russell Boulevard and ending at Central Park Gardens, but the source of the fliers remains unclear.
One protester, who wished to remain anonymous, said the fliers for Sunday’s protest were “originally posted on Wildfire after many individuals wanted to protest,” but that they themself “did not want to attend Saturday’s event because the police were informed and escorted protestors.”
Ultimately, Sunday’s protest led to a standoff with police in riot gear, who were blocking the freeway bridge at the intersection of Olive Drive and Richards Boulevard. The protests continued without any violent confrontations, as the group of protesters turned around and returned to Downtown Davis.
Despite disagreements over police involvement, many students are passionate about inciting change in the Davis community. Martinez said the protests have made her think more critically about how UC Davis could be doing more to support Black students during this time.
“I think extra resources should be provided to Black students,” Martinez said. “Counseling, health services and even professors and TAs checking in on Black students is really important because they are undergoing a type of stress that people who are non-Black don’t understand.”
Kimura added a more urgent message — a sentiment that is being echoed throughout the streets of America.
“It is time for change,” Kimura said. “This is not the America I want to be living in.”
Written by: Madeleine Payne — firstname.lastname@example.org