In the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations held over the last month, the Pasadena branch of the NAACP and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON) held a peaceful caravan Friday to honor Juneteenth.
Participants met at the Rose Bowl and caravaned through the streets of Pasadena before arriving at Centennial Plaza in front of City Hall. Eventually approximately 500 persons were in attendance as cars parked in rows in front of City Hall. It was the second such caravan demonstration since June 4.
The “Juneteenth” event commemorates the final emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States. Specifically, it commemorates Union army general Gordon Granger announcing federal orders in Galveston, Texas, on June 19, 1865, which that all slaves in Texas were free, more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation had officially outlawed slavery in the United States.
Friday’s caravan event was held simultaneously with a now-weekly Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest outside Pasadena Police headquarters. That event was interrupted when a man, possibly having mental illness issues,” according to police, knocked over a table of materials and confronted BLM organizer Jasmine Abdullah Richards.
Police arrived immediately and the unidentified suspect was eventually taken away by police for a mental health evaluation after crowds gathered, and the situation became briefly tense.
The BLM demonstration, which remained essentially peaceful, featured an open mic and a series of speakers, who criticized police policy and called for a defunding of the City’s police.
The Juneteenth event which was emceed by Florence Hayes, featured numerous speakers, including NAACP Pasadena Branch President Allen Edson, who told Pasadena Now before the event, that the event was “an opportunity to talk about solidarity and get young people, to be registered to vote, and to vote.”
Edson also pointed out the “solidarity” between the Black and Brown communities in Pasadena, and noted that before the construction of the ill-fated 710 Freeway extension, which eliminated a neighborhood, “We were all one community.”
Attendees also heard from State Senator Anthony Portantino, who told the crowd, “From the perspective of the State Senate, I am with you 100 percent.”
Mayor Terry Tornek said to the crowd, now in and out of their cars, that he “understood” that there is “institutional racism in this country and in this city.
“I know that and the City knows that,” he continued, “what we also know is that Black lives matter.” Tornek also told the crowd that he would bring some type of police oversight proposal before the full City Council on August 10.
Perhaps most significant during the event was the introduction and distribution of what was called “The Pasadena Community Bill of Rights and Declaration of Interdependence.” The document was authored by members of the NAACP, NDLON, the Interdenominational Ministry Alliance, the Chiristian Clergy Coalition, the Coalition for Increased Civilian Oversight of Pasadena Police and Pasadenans Organizing for Progress.
The document—which lists 12 separate demands for overhauling the police department—says in its introduction, “We call on our government, whose power derives from the people, and which is answerable to the people, to accept these demands by the people.”
The document then demands that Pasadena “defend equal Justice, acknowledge the unjust past, face up to the unjust present, and reform unjust policing.”
In its 12 demands, the declaration demands that Pasadena must:
Impose Civilian oversight of the police department
Divert police funds to human needs
Reform policies on the use of force
End racial profiling
End police surveillance
Expand community hiring
Require psychological evaluations of sworn officer candidates
Adopt Anti-bias training and monitoring
End conflicts of interest
Demilitarize the police department
End the contract with Lexipol, a company which creates police policies and training
Investigate the recent killing of Lloyd Nelson, who died following a police pursuit Friday, May 8, near the corner of Walnut Street and Meredith Avenue, after he failed to pull over for a vehicle code violation, and fired on the police.
Copies of the Declaration were distributed to the crowd as well as to various City leaders. Mayor Terry Tornek said, “We are listening carefully to what you all have to say. Mayor Tornek also said he had “already read and discussed the declaration with the City Council,” and that since the last demonstration, he had signed President Obama’s pledge for police reform.