Taking to the streets
South Coast residents joined a now-global crusade to protect black lives. Sarah Wright / Review

At 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, outside the Pescadero post office, a crowd was beginning to form. Residents young and old, some with babies in strollers and nearly all holding signs, convened around a bright blue tent where organizers passed out water, food and flyers.

Soon a drum appeared and the rally began, as residents marched down Stage Road yelling chants of “Black lives matter,” “No justice, no peace, defund the police” and “White silence is violence.”

Around 50 people attended Sunday’s protest in Pescadero in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Pescadero residents Marianna Zavala and Andrea Hatsukami were among the organizers, and as protesters marched, they handed out flyers to onlookers along the street, inviting them to join the crowd.

Zavala and Hatsukami said the purpose of the protest was to showcase the community’s solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by helping raise awareness and educate their peers. They said they wanted to be careful to not be the loudest voices.

“We are guests to this movement,” Zavala said in a speech to the crowd.

Zavala said she and her housemates got the word out about the protest through social media and by talking to people in the local farming and ranching community. She said none of them had experience as organizers but wanted to do what they could to mobilize their community.

Sunday’s event wasn’t the first on the South Coast borne out of recent protests and demonstrations sweeping the nation and world. On Friday, residents attended a candlelight vigil for black people killed by police violence, and, on Saturday, Pescadero High School students organized their own protest at the center of town.

Hatsukami said she is inspired by the strong sense of community in Pescadero, and this moment felt like an opportunity to bridge some of the gaps between the Latino and white groups in the community. Hatsukami hopes residents will do more to break down social and language barriers and start talking about systemic racism, highlighting bilingual discussions hosted by Puente as an opportunity to engage with neighbors of different backgrounds.

“Having these conversations is the very first step,” Hatsukami said.

Jeff Haas owns the Loma Mar Store. Haas said he’d never seen a protest so large in the small, rural town. He said watching George Floyd’s murder on TV felt like a tipping point, and he had to get involved.

“The police have gone too far,” Haas said. “We all need to look out for one another. … Everybody needs to participate in reclaiming justice.”

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