Demonstrations in Rancho Cucamonga Call for an End to Police Brutality, Tensions Stew
“I can’t breathe,” are the words George Floyd, 46, uttered and pleaded to Minneapolis police on May 25.
Officer Derek Chauvin pinned down and placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, while he was handcuffed. Two other officers held him down, too.
Floyd was unresponsive when paramedics arrived and shortly after pronounced dead that same evening.
The situation was caught on video, posted, and shared across social media platforms, racking up millions of views.
The Minneapolis Police Department fired all four officers, and Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Americans across the country took to the streets to exercise the right to protest the injustice and police brutality against people of color. While some were peaceful, others ended in violent lootings, vandalism, and injuries.
Protests have occurred throughout major cities in the United States, such as Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia.
The movement has influenced many other small suburban communities to show their support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.
California cities such as Fontana, Upland, Riverside, Temecula, Pomona and Rancho Cucamonga have carried out protests lasting several days.
Rancho Cucamonga joins the movement
On Friday, May 29, people from the community organized a protest in Rancho Cucamonga, with hundreds of people gathering on Foothill Boulevard and Day Creek.
“The protest was peaceful initially; however, toward the end of the evening, protesters began throwing rocks and bottles at deputies, and thirteen arrests were made,” the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department told Scriberr News.
Many believe the charges do not provide justice for Floyd and that Chauvin should’ve received a first or second degree charge.
“I’m tired of it, how many times we have to see it on a timeline, how many times we got to sign a petition,” Jeremy, a criminal defense attorney in San Bernardino County told Scriberr News.
“Then we got these cops out here who go through training for what, six months, and then they come out here and don’t know how to de-escalate a situation,” said Jeremy, who joined the protest.
The other three officers involved haven’t been charged as of now. Many protesters believe the officers witnessing the abuse should be penalized for their silence.
“I read these police reports, I hear them add things, saying things that happen, but when I look at their body camera, it’s not on them. Think about all the times and stuff that has not been caught on camera, and now we’re catching it, and they’re not doing anything about it,” Jeremy said.
Protests in Rancho Cucamonga continued to form throughout the week. On May 30, a protest was held again on Day Creek and Foothill with roughly 200 protesters.
“It’s obvious that we are oppressed in a manner that is not morally right, and we have to do our part,” protester Alexander Martinez told Scriberr News. “I am not black, I am Latino, but I definitely have to do my part to make this world a better place.”
On Saturday, protesters began tagging buildings and throwing items at vehicles. The Sheriff’s Department Mobile Field Force team responded, and all protesters left the area, they said.
Typically, the protests in Rancho Cucamonga remained relatively peaceful. On Sunday, protesters encountered an Uber driver who drove-by the rally and began to yell “Trump 2020,” antagonizing members of the protest.
“Some in the crowd threw water bottles at his car. Something that someone threw broke his passenger side front window. At that point, he got out of his car and challenged people to a fight,” freelance photojournalist Patrick Smith told Scriberr News.
The man got out of his car and attempted to scuffle with protesters and as demonstrators walked up to the man, he began to use his pepper spray on them, Smith explained.
“No one touched him, but after he sprayed us, a few protestors destroyed his vehicle. They kicked in all of the doors, and at least two windows were shattered,” Smith said.
“After spraying people, he got back into his vehicle and started to speed away. He made a right turn fast and almost ran over some people that were near the corner,” he added.
The man called the police, so the protest became an unlawful assembly, Smith explained.
“Soon afterward the Sheriff’s Department came in and made announcements,” Smith said. “The Sheriff’s Department showed a lot of restraint as protesters refused to leave and yelled obscenities at them.”
There were approximately 150 protesters, and no arrests were made, according to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.
“Yes, there are cops that do want to do good, but the title of a cop demands for you to not be as morally obligated as you should be. I mean I want to have faith, but it has to be systematic, but I guess we’ll see at the polls,” Martinez said.
Protests continue throughout the week
On June 1, approximately 150 peaceful protesters appeared in Rancho Cucamonga again.
At 7:30 pm in the area of Victoria Gardens, eight carloads of protesters arrived at the location and were contacted by Rancho Cucamonga deputies. Seven arrests were made for various charges, according to the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department.
Rancho Cucamonga has not announced any curfews.
Cities announcing curfews have been a common tactic to try and control the rioting or looting of local businesses.
Protests continue every day within major cities and small towns. People can be heard chanting, “no justice, no peace,” in the hopes of bringing change in their communities.