News

Two Juneteenth protests take place in downtown Palo Alto

First protest results in street art with messages of support for Black Lives Matter

To commemorate Juneteenth, activists Ruth Robertson of the Raging Grannies and Vara Ramakrishnan of Vigil for Democracy showed up at 2 a.m Friday to City Hall in downtown Palo Alto, equipped with washable paint chalk. For six hours, they said, they drew the outline of the letters "BLM" for Black Lives Matter on the Hamilton Avenue pavement, occasionally dodging the few cars on the road in the wee hours.

It was in preparation for the first of two rallies being held Friday, a day that saw continued protests against systemic racism and police brutality while also celebrating African American culture and the emancipation of slaves in the 1860s.

Starting at about noon and going until 1:30 p.m., the Grannies, Vigil for Democracy and students from Nueva School filled in the outlined letters with messages: "Justice Now," "George Floyd" and "White Silence is Violence." Police had closed the street to traffic between Ramona and Bryant streets.

A second rally was planned for 5 p.m. Friday in King Plaza. According to the organizing site SixNineteen.com, testimony about local residents' experiences with the Police Department, school district, justice system and Palo Altans were planned for the rally. more than 500 people indicated they planned to attend.

The march through downtown Palo Alto started around 6 p.m., prompting police to implement rolling closures in the area, including Middlefield Road.

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Palo Alto police conducted rolling closures of downtown streets during the protest as marchers began to stream out of King Plaza. The demonstrators took a different route than police expected, according to emergency radio dispatch reports.

Officers followed them east on Hamilton Avenue at Bryant Street and blocked traffic at Middlefield Road at different intervals at Hamilton, Forest and University avenues. The marchers returned to King Plaza along Bryant Street around 6:30 p.m. and dispersed at around 6:45 p.m.

The demonstration resulted in far less scrambling for law enforcement than during previous protests, some of which have halted traffic on U.S. Highway 101. On multiple occasions earlier this month, hundreds of protesters entered the freeway and caused disruptions on Willow Road in Menlo Park, East Bayshore Road in East Palo Alto and University Avenue in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. Officers from the California Highway Patrol and Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park police departments worked to divert marchers away from the freeway.

Read more about the 5 p.m. rally and march here.

The city on Friday also held its final day of free COVID-19 testing at a pop-up clinic in the City Hall lobby, which brought more than 1,500 people for tests in the prior three days, requiring waiting times between 30 minutes and an hour-and-a-half.

==Weekly Staff Writer Sue Dremann contributed to this report==.

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Two Juneteenth protests take place in downtown Palo Alto

First protest results in street art with messages of support for Black Lives Matter

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Jun 19, 2020, 1:42 pm
Updated: Fri, Jun 19, 2020, 7:51 pm

To commemorate Juneteenth, activists Ruth Robertson of the Raging Grannies and Vara Ramakrishnan of Vigil for Democracy showed up at 2 a.m Friday to City Hall in downtown Palo Alto, equipped with washable paint chalk. For six hours, they said, they drew the outline of the letters "BLM" for Black Lives Matter on the Hamilton Avenue pavement, occasionally dodging the few cars on the road in the wee hours.

It was in preparation for the first of two rallies being held Friday, a day that saw continued protests against systemic racism and police brutality while also celebrating African American culture and the emancipation of slaves in the 1860s.

Starting at about noon and going until 1:30 p.m., the Grannies, Vigil for Democracy and students from Nueva School filled in the outlined letters with messages: "Justice Now," "George Floyd" and "White Silence is Violence." Police had closed the street to traffic between Ramona and Bryant streets.

A second rally was planned for 5 p.m. Friday in King Plaza. According to the organizing site SixNineteen.com, testimony about local residents' experiences with the Police Department, school district, justice system and Palo Altans were planned for the rally. more than 500 people indicated they planned to attend.

The march through downtown Palo Alto started around 6 p.m., prompting police to implement rolling closures in the area, including Middlefield Road.

Palo Alto police conducted rolling closures of downtown streets during the protest as marchers began to stream out of King Plaza. The demonstrators took a different route than police expected, according to emergency radio dispatch reports.

Officers followed them east on Hamilton Avenue at Bryant Street and blocked traffic at Middlefield Road at different intervals at Hamilton, Forest and University avenues. The marchers returned to King Plaza along Bryant Street around 6:30 p.m. and dispersed at around 6:45 p.m.

The demonstration resulted in far less scrambling for law enforcement than during previous protests, some of which have halted traffic on U.S. Highway 101. On multiple occasions earlier this month, hundreds of protesters entered the freeway and caused disruptions on Willow Road in Menlo Park, East Bayshore Road in East Palo Alto and University Avenue in Palo Alto and East Palo Alto. Officers from the California Highway Patrol and Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and Menlo Park police departments worked to divert marchers away from the freeway.

Read more about the 5 p.m. rally and march here.

The city on Friday also held its final day of free COVID-19 testing at a pop-up clinic in the City Hall lobby, which brought more than 1,500 people for tests in the prior three days, requiring waiting times between 30 minutes and an hour-and-a-half.

==Weekly Staff Writer Sue Dremann contributed to this report==.

Comments

Granny R
Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:44 pm
Granny R, Midtown
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:44 pm

Wish to acknowledge here the outpouring of community members who came in addition to the high school students. Some folks stayed the entire hour and a half and others just dropped by for a short while. Everyone's contribution much appreciated; an excellent turnout on short notice!


Ummm
Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:55 pm
Ummm, Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 19, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Isn’t Juneteenth supposed to be a celebration? Why would people protest The achievement and sacrifice of Abraham Lincoln and hundreds of thousands of US troops?


CC
Professorville
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:24 pm
CC, Professorville
on Jun 19, 2020 at 5:24 pm
CC
Professorville
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:24 pm
CC , Professorville
on Jun 19, 2020 at 6:24 pm
tom kearns
Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm
tom kearns, Charleston Meadows
on Jun 20, 2020 at 1:53 pm

If you use "washable pain chalk", is it really a protest? Only in
Palo Alto.


Vigil for Democracy
Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 20, 2020 at 2:14 pm
Vigil for Democracy, Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 20, 2020 at 2:14 pm

We are delighted that the Palo Alto Public Art Program put out a call for artists yesterday, to paint a permanent BLACK LIVES MATTER mural in this space. The abbreviated schedule is unprecedented, to be completed by June 30, 2020! There will be 16 artists or collectives selected, one per letter, and paid a stipend of $700 each. Please encourage black artists to apply!! Web Link


Granny R
Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 5:09 am
Granny R, Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 5:09 am

Answering the question: If it's washable chalk paint is it really a protest?
It was an act of civil disobedience. The demonstrators blocked the street from 2am Friday the 19th until around 9 am and again from noon to 1:30pm without city permission. The city had delayed a decision to allow BLM theme permanent artwork in the same general location. They still have not committed to a deadline, but the protest put a light on the issue and more fire under city council to act quickly.


Granny R
Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 5:12 am
Granny R, Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 5:12 am

Re: above post. I see that the city has agreed to a final completion date of June 30. Wise move city council!


Wage Slave
Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:33 am
Wage Slave, Midtown
on Jun 21, 2020 at 11:33 am

Slavery is in the history of many countries and still exists in other forms. Today, most people are wage slaves, most without union representation. They must work for money to survive and to pay crazy high taxes. Some taxes are for government officials' overgenerous high salaries and retirement pensions. Everything is expensive. To get a permit to replace the roof is too much; all the city inspector does is come over and do a quick check.
Workers must follow rules of their master, the employer, no matter whether they agree or not with some rules. They are told to speak up if there is something wrong. However when they do, they may still face retaliation and termination.
I don't think the standard and quality of life has improved at all; it's so hard to get ahead. Health care system is terrible in America; it is for profit only. Time is overdue to fix so many problems. We are slaves to bad corrupt greedy systems.


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