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George Floyd Protest Continues In Downtown Sacramento, At California’s Capitol

Demonstrators gather near the Interstate 5 onramp near the California Capitol.
Sammy Caiola/CapRadio
Demonstrators gather near the Interstate 5 onramp near the California Capitol.

Young people mostly wearing masks showed up before 9 a.m. at the state Capitol, toting signs reading “I Can’t Breathe” and chanting “George Floyd!” and the name of other victims of police violence.

The crowd, which grew as demonstrators congregated in front of the statehouse’s east steps, eventually went on the move, zigzagging through downtown’s streets — and momentarily blocking traffic on Interstate 5 and the Tower Bridge.

Saturday’s demonstrations against police brutality continued following a night of protest in south Sacramento.

As of Saturday afternoon, a Sacramento police spokesperson said there were no arrests, and only two during Friday’s gathering. A security officer with the Downtown Commons shopping center near the Golden 1 Center told CapRadio there were not any incidents or vandalism.

Demonstrators did break glass doors to the Sacramento County jail, and fresh graffiti had appeared throughout downtown.

A smaller group of marchers remain on the streets as Saturday evening, repeatedly attempting to sneak past CHP officers onto the freeway near Old Sacramento.

The crowd gathered on the Capitol lawn earlier in the morning, again calling for justice for those brutalized by police violence. The event is part of the national call for change following the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. On Friday, at least two people died in protests across the country.

The march moved down K Street toward the Sacramento Kings arena. At the Golden 1 Center, demonstrators discussed where to go next, with chants of “Freeway!” heard from the crowd. They removed barriers and entered the former downtown mall area.

The protest then moved onto Interstate 5, before CHP officers moved people off the freeway, then across the Tower Bridge into West Sacramento, shutting down traffic.

Younger Saturday Protest

Some who attended the Friday demonstration in Oak Park noted that the Saturday crowd was younger, and many who attended said they heard about the day’s protests on Instagram.

Demonstrator Christina Lensworth said while she wasn’t able to attend the previous protest in Oak Park, she was happy to make it to one and glad to see so many young people.

“I feel like even in the past election, the younger generation didn’t pay attention,” the 21-year-old said. “This generation’s going to be the one to make a change so it’s good to see them out here.”

Ryan Royster was also out at the demonstration and said he felt it was important to show up because recent events have reminded him of why his family chose to move to California a generation ago. He said that yesterday was the second anniversary of the death of his grandmother.

“What she has seen, was the echoes of the same things she has seen growing up in the south and moving to California” Royster said. "It is the collective echoes of decades of violence that has reverberated throughout the fabric of Americana since its inception.

Jamier Sale with the Sacramento ANSWER coalition is a longstanding organizer but was not involved in planning Saturday’s event. He marveled at the new faces, who he says showed up without coordination from any of the usual activist groups. He also felt that the nation was going through another moment of upheaval.

“For me I’m having flashbacks to 2014, '15, '16, when we saw the whole nation rise up against police terror,” Sale said. “We’re seeing a lot of years with pent up frustration with law enforcement, and the fact that we’re at the capitol is really about the entire system that’s overseeing the police terror.”

He added that he also saw a correlation between the protest and the higher rates at which African-Americans were dying from the coronavirus. Though most participants were wearing masks, social distancing was difficult to maintain.

“The pandemic has really just added to it,” Sale said. “We see how black people are more likely to die during this pandemic. So even before we were seeing these incidents of police terror we were seeing black people basically targeted by this lack of resources and literally dying, that’s a big part of it.”

Demonstrators told CapRadio a protest is planned at Arden Fair Mall for Saturday evening. Regional Transit wrote on Twitter that some bus routes have been moved away from the mall, and some intersections were blocked off by Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio

Sarah Mizes-Tan
Nick Miller