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Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Activists in Santa Ana react to Derek Chauvin verdict, continue demanding justice

A few hours before sunset April 20, around 15 community activists gathered to collectively rejoice over the guilty verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.

The gathering took place on the corner of South Bristol Street and West McFadden Avenue, in Santa Ana, following Chauvin’s official conviction on all of the charges brought against him in the death of George Floyd.

Chauvin, is being held in a segregated unit while awaiting sentencing, which is expected to occur around the second week of June.

Despite marking a historic turning point for civil rights cases involving police officers, the busy intersection did not play host to celebratory chants.

Instead, it served as a platform for the participants to continue seeking justice-for-all. Their rally cries perforated by car horns, honking in support, as they zoomed by.

Stephanie Gutierrez and Hoku Jeffrey,
Stephanie Gutierrez and Hoku Jeffrey, members of BAMN with other protestors, following the verdict of Derek Chauvin. Photo credit: Nicole Melanie Freerks

Caroline Wong, the founding member of BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), a Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality — the organization responsible for the demonstration — described how it feels to be receiving so much community support.

“It feels great. But we‘ve got to stay in the streets and keep organizing because the victory isn’t just going to be handed to us.” Wong said.

Organizers from BAMN’s Santa Ana chapter include Wong, Abel De La Cruz, Hoku Jeffrey, and Stephanie Gutierrez — all in attendance — who called for the “emergency protest” in advance of the final verdict regardless of the outcome.

The event was promoted on social media and the BAMN website, which also includes a brief contextual reference to the current civil rights movement, indicated in their official statement, “The fight for justice for George Floyd sparked a historic national movement against racist police brutality and for equality.”

“[…] Whether we reject the decision or celebrate a victory, our movement must show our power in the streets again. We must also demand justice for Daunte Wright, justice for Adam Toledo, justice for Breonna Taylor, [and] justice for Sean Monterrosa!” also in the statement.

Thetis Meriweather
Attendee Thetis Meriweather, in Santa Ana, continues protesting inequalities in the justice system. Photo credit: Nicole Melanie Freerks

Attendee Thetis Meriweather said that there are many more racial justice challenges to overcome, including battling denial that seems to stem from the fear of acknowledging historical wrongdoings. That, in addition to large portions of the population, continuing to buy into harmful stereotypes.

“Minorities are the majority. We have the same oppressor,” he said. Meriweather continued, recalling becoming friends with BAMN organizer, DeLaCruz who invited her to the event. Meriweather explained they joined forces in the summer of 2020 when their organizations were doing two to three protests a day.

“The whole world watched a guy get away with murder, but today, we watched him get [a guilty verdict.] So that’s encouraging, but we still have these cases pending and we need to get that stuff taken care of now. We need justice for everyone.” Meriweather concluded.

A George Floyd memorial mural, outside of Cup Foods, located in South Minneapolis, MN, since 1989. The part grocery store, part convenience store, part restaurant, has become synonyms with today's civil rights movement and the death of George Floyd. Who died while in police custody, when Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck for over eight minutes, ultimately ending his life.
A George Floyd memorial mural, outside of Cup Foods, located in South Minneapolis, MN. Photo credit: Sarah Freerks

There were no city or county officials present at the event, and police officers were not at the scene. Although, at least two squad cars were spotted a few blocks north, converged in a parking lot.

Attendees wore masks and took caution to remain socially distanced.

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