Since the death of George Floyd people across the country have been expressing their anger and have been demanding change in law enforcement practices by protesting, looting, and people from all types of backgrounds using their platforms to speak out on the issue.
A number of communities in Kern County have joined the movement. Residents of Delano, Tehachapi, Taft and many more have gathered to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. Hundreds of young people have been gathering in Bakersfield every night and marching. There have also been prayer circles and sit-ins.
After almost a week of the protest, Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, was charged with second degree murder. And a few days later, the three officers who were with him are being charged with aiding and abetting.
However, many leaders are saying this is not enough to put a stop to the problem. People are still hurting and demanding change. For many black people the death of Floyd and many other lives that were taken unjustly feels closer.
“Being a black woman, a wife to a black man, and mother to two black sons I feel the oppression in a way that is very personal and very painful,” said Arleana Waller, the founder of the She Power Leadership Academy and the MLK Community Initiative.
This movement is not only personal to Waller, but to many in Kern County and its leaders. It’s hard for people to talk about this without mentioning the Guardian’s 2015 report, naming Kern County as one of the deadliest law enforcements.
The need for change is encouraging people to come together and find a solution to demand in Kern.
“We have to stand together in solidarity,” said Ucedrah Osby, the president of All of Us or None. “That means that all the social justice organizers, the black community and allies must use the same messaging because there’s power in numbers and numbers create change, especially in Kern County where the marginalized population is huge.”
In order to make real change, Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd, the executive director of FAAM, said it’s important to talk to black leaders about the issues going on and the ways to fix it.
“What needs to be done locally is that nonblack people need to differ to black leadership,” said Salahud-Din Floyd. “Talk to black leaders and see what we are planning and get in line with that.”
She continued: “This is not your agenda…You don’t get to use it as an opportunity to air your grievances with the police. Yes, your grievances are real and yes the police department has hurt everyone who isn’t white and some whaite folks as well. But that isn’t what this is about.”
During this time, many young adults are angry and feel the need to go fix what is happening across the country.
Leaders are urging them to get involved in organizations. It is important to keep doing the work even after when things start to settle with the protests. Local leaders recommend joining an organization and participating in voting so there are people who care about the same issues.