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Local Student Spearheads ‘Black Lives Matter’ Demonstration

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Sonora, CA – Peaceful and violent demonstrations over the killing of George Floyd have residents, many confused as what to believe, buzzing about locally planned events.

As reported here, support and scorn were both in evidence Monday night at a peaceful candlelight vigil held at downtown Sonora’s Courthouse Park by local social activism group Tuolumne County Indivisible. The intention was to honor the memory of Floyd and 91 other victims of racially related brutality over the past eight years and remained for the most part peaceful albeit for some people who drove by yelling out obscenities.

On Wednesday, beginning at 1 p.m., Morgan Wilkie, a 19-year-old Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student and Class of 2018 Summerville High graduate is spearheading another demonstration at Courthouse Park.

Plans are for demonstrators to “stand in solidarity” at the park, she says, adding there will be no march. “I think the Black Lives Matter movement matters everywhere. We are fighting for systemic justice against systemic racism, which happens in every aspect, every part of the country, not just in major cities.”

Asked about potential concerns that an outside group with other plans in mind might attempt to piggyback the event, she replies, “We are planning on it being a very peaceful protest. Everyone that is going understand that it is going to be a very peaceful protest. I am hoping that no violence is incited there is no need for any violence to be incited.”

Voicing For Those Whose Were Taken From Them  

She says her event is intended to help change an ingrained racially biased narrative. “We are very privileged to not have to walk down the street and being endangered just because of the color of our skin — and I think that is not something that is widely recognized and that is another aspect — as I am privileged enough to be able to organize a protest to use a voice for those whose voices have been taken from them.”

Acknowledging concerns over social media rumors perhaps feeding some folks’ current sense of unrest, Tuolumne County Sheriff Bill Pooley and Sonora Police Chief Turu VanderWiel both released statements this week, reported here. Both condemn the police actions that led to Floyd’s death and pledged their agencies’ support and protection for those who want to peacefully exercise their freedom of speech rights guaranteed under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Anticipating Wednesday’s demonstration to remain nonviolent, the sheriff and police chief also make it clear that community public safety is paramount and that any violent acts such as looting, destruction of property, or physical assault will not be tolerated.

Also sensing the need to address current events, in a Tuesday statement, top education officials from every county across the state, including Tuolumne and Calaveras emphasized in unison the need for adults and educators to address racism, implicit bias in education; help children understand the current events of the recent protests; and the need to stand up against racism, injustice, and inequity through nonviolent means.

Tuolumne County Schools Superintendent Cathy Parker emphasized that the answer is not found in violence or the destruction of our community but in working together to bring essential changes.

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