FULLERTON, Calif. — Twelve days after George Floyd’s death, over a thousand people flocked to Fullerton City Hall on Saturday as protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement continue to sweep the nation.
Approximately 1,500 peaceful protesters, including several Cal State Fullerton students, chanted underneath a cloudy sky along the intersection of Highland and Commonwealth avenues. Unlike the protest that occurred at the same intersection on May 30, visible police presence was scarce as the crowd raised up signs and shouted as passing cars honked.
Faith Forcucci-Morris, who organized the event with her husband, Conner, and grew up in Fullerton herself, said that they want to keep pushing for progress.
“The purpose is to honor the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as the Indivisible movement. We need to vote Trump out of office. We need changes to police reform and we need to defund the police and make our community better for everyone,” Forcucci-Morris said. “This is a place that means a lot to me, and instead of leaving for someplace better I want to fix it.”
The Fullerton Police Department, which is right across the street from City Hall, was notified about the event in advance by Forcucci-Morris.
Fullerton Police Sgt. Eric Bridges said that it was a very successful event as there were no arrests made in regards to the protest.
“We at the police department, we are very supportive of people’s first amendment rights, and we do everything we can to facilitate that. As long as the protesters are peaceful and law-abiding, we have no problem with that and again, we do make every effort to support that,” Bridges said.
Kids and pets also participated in the protest as volunteers handed out water bottles through the crowd.
Several speakers, including U.S. Rep. Gil Cisneros, addressed the mass of participants, who spilled off the steps of a boarded-up City Hall and into the grass. Cisneros condemned racism and asked protesters to hold him and other colleagues accountable for actions in office, praising the crowd for their activism and urging them to vote.
15-year-old speaker Ahsha Jones addressed her experience as a black girl in an anti-black world. She spoke about personal moments of being watched by store employees, a 5-year-old telling her she was not able to be at a public pool because she is black and other students calling her the N-word.
“I’m here to let you know we’re not a threat, and we’re people,” Jones said. “We deserve to have rights. We deserve to be seen as equals.”
Jones said while there are good police officers like those in her family, it is about police who are trigger-happy and who do not care. She called for those who are discriminatory to lose their jobs and urged police to check themselves and their colleagues, as well as take defensive measures to heart.
Speaker and high school student Chloe Serrano told the Daily Titan that she aspires to enter legislation in order to take change into her own hands and the hands of her generation.
“As I grow older and I sit in my classroom I see how Eurocentric our history is, it just focuses on the good things about America, but how can you talk about the good things when people are consistently being dismissed?” Serrano said.
Around 1 p.m., the crowd kneeled and held a moment of silence for 8:46 minutes, the same amount of time Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on Floyd before his death. As many members of the crowd raised their fists in the air, one man stood in the street, motioning for passing cars to keep their horns quiet during the movement.
Among participants was ASI President Marcus Reveles, who said the protest was amazing and the movement would be something that would go down in history books.
At Cal State Fullerton, he said that there would need to be a lot of conversation and collaboration in the upcoming semester.
“We need to make sure that ASI, student body, anybody, don’t do anything without the collaboration, consent or conversation of the communities that we’re talking about,” Reveles said. “I want to make sure any action that is done is going to be in a collaborative effort with affected communities.
The initial protest at City Hall concluded at 3 p.m., though hundreds joined another group to march to Plummer Auditorium at Fullerton Union High School. As the group marched north on Highland Avenue, some residents peeked out of their homes to watch or raise fists with the protesters.
At Plummer Auditorium, leaders encouraged the protesters to sign an online petition to change the building’s name, which is currently named after Louis E. Plummer, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan during his time as superintendent of the high school and Fullerton College. The petition has gathered nearly 12,000 signatures as of 10 p.m. on Saturday.
Fullerton Police Chief Bob Dunn thanked the Fullerton participants in a press release for cooperating with law enforcement and protesting peacefully.
“We witnessed persons of all ages, including families with children, exercise their right to protest and do so in a safe and non-violent manner,” Dunn said.
On May 30, a Fullerton protest was declared an unlawful assembly and ended in two arrests — one for vandalism and one for resisting dispersion.
Brea, Anaheim and Orange were some of at least 10 cities in Orange County to hold demonstrations of their own on Saturday as the country entered its second weekend of protests. Another Fullerton protest is scheduled for Sunday from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Amerige Park.
Leticia Perez and Karina Gutierrez contributed to the reporting in this article.