“It’s our duty to fight for our freedom. It’s our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” – Assata Shakur
Community members chanted this as they marched from Mill Creek Park through downtown Bakersfield.
“Today, we were protesting in solidarity with the murder of our brother George Floyd, and in opposition to BPD,” said, First and Always Melanin Executive Director Faheemah Salahud-Din Floyd. “We want to defund BPD and abolish them here locally within our school system and for the city of Bakersfield.”
The march began with a calling onto the ancestors. Salahud-Din Floyd poured water into the grass as the protestors called out the ancestors’ names.
There were several speeches by Salahud-Din Floyd, Layla Koiyan, Matthew Moore, Blaine Hodge, and Daulton Jones.
Speakers touched on the racism felt throughout the country, and the reactions the country gives to protestors, like disapproving kneeling during the national anthem and now asking for people to be peaceful.
They all expressed fear of not returning home or having a family member lose their life when doing daily activities. A solution talked about was defunding and abolishing the police.
The Bakersfield Police department currently gets $109,350,815 per year and if the proposed budget gets adopted, the department will see a 9.71 percent increase.
The community is advocating to have this money be reallocated to different areas that will help the city, such as schools, comprehensive healthcare, and communities in poverty.
“We are looking at neighborhoods that would have mental health for black people and youth in general” said Faith in the Valley Community Organizer Daulton Jones on what a defunded community could look like. “Let’s be real here, black people have PTSD. If we were to be able to have access to good legitimate mental health care that’s affordable, that’s what a neighborhood of defunding the police looks like.”
The protest helped in connecting the community and making sure their voices were being heard.
“I feel very informed, I feel strong,” said Blaine Hodge about his feelings after the protest. “ I feel like we are one, we’re together. This (protest) was unity. It wasn’t like we were preaching peace. We actually got our points across. We’re all very upset. I’m not going to preach peace before we get the end result.”
Featured photo: Hundreds of people protested the death of George Floyd Friday, May 29, 2020, in front of the Bakersfield Police Department in downtown Bakersfield. By Henry Barrios for Kern Sol News