Stella Madsen is a freshman journalist at Encinal High School.
Island City Expresses its Outrage
Last week, thousands of people unified in protests across the world calling for change in police departments across the United States after George Floyd, a Black man, was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a White police officer, in Minneapolis on May 25. Witnesses recorded Chauvin kneeling directly on Floyd’s neck during his arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.
The youth led many protests around the country. Here in Alameda, hundreds of people peacefully marched on June 3, led by the Youth Activists of Alameda, an organization created by Encinal High students Vinny Camarillo and Randell Rubio with many other students. On June 5, Amaya Edwards and Rachel Wellman, two young women from Alameda, and 30 other organizers led a crowd of young people in a protest for Black lives.
“It enrages me that [police brutality] is still happening for decades already,” said Camarillo. “I couldn’t be silent anymore. I couldn’t allow myself not to do anything.”
While many see Alameda as a small, quaint Bay Area suburb, separated from the traffic and urban chaos by a stream of estuary water, racism still plagues the city just as it does anywhere else. On June 5, the Alameda Police Department released body-camera footage that shows officers arresting a Black man, Mali Watkins, on May 23, “for dancing.”
Though Watkins was temporarily detained on May 23, his neighbors have since shown him acts of kindness and support to help him feel safe.
Camarillo hopes that the recent youth-led protests will encourage “action taken by our local government to change the way cops treat people of color, as well as not ignore the way they are treated.”
Speakers at the protests called upon all White people in Alameda to uplift and listen to the young, powerful Black voices all around them.
“Our city is a predominately White city,” said Camarillo. “People here are privileged and can use their privilege as an advantage to Black lives as well as other minorities.”
The most effective thing all adults can do is vote, explained a speaker at Friday’s protest. “Use your voice to elect those who will listen to the people and give us the change we desperately need.” One helpful organization for this is Black Futures Lab, which works to hold elected officials accountable to communities and make Black voices powerful in politics.
The Youth Activists of Alameda said that the next step in their plan is to “continue to inform people of injustices in the world, inform them of what is happening in the world, and in our community. Different ways they can help and spread to others would also be included.” They encourage everyone on the Island to contribute to the cause.
“We as a community need to stand up against all forms of racism,” said Camarillo. “What’s going on? Why is this still happening in our generation? The youth are our only hope and listening to them is an absolute benefit to everyone. As a community, we must come together.”