Young organizers behind Richmond protest call for unity, action

Young organizers behind Richmond protest call for unity, action
Photo credit: Mike Kinney

By Mike Kinney

At noon today, a protest is planned for Richmond Civic Center that will feature speeches and performances, followed by a march to police headquarters at 1701 Regatta Blvd. The event is among many actions across the nation demanding justice for George Floyd, and its youth organizers say they’re focused on healing and unifying their community on solutions to systemic racism.

Organizers of the event include UCLA students Samone Anderson and Armond Lee, and recent Howard University graduate LaVonia Bobo, who are recent graduates of West Contra Costa Unified schools and worked with school district educators, students and members of local organizations in its planning, according to an event flyer.

They’ve pulled together an event bringing together city leaders such as Richmond Councilmember Demnlus Johnson III, slated to be a guest speaker. The Safe Return Project Director Tamisha Walker, SF Pride President Carolyn Wysinger, Pastor Mike McBryde, New Life Movement Founder Bendrick Foster and Richmond organizer Otheree Christian are also slated to speak (see flyer below).

For Anderson, a Kennedy High alum entering her third year at UCLA, this protest is about empowerment as much as it is about bringing people together to heal.

“Not only are we marching against police brutality on a national and local level, we’re also marching against food and housing insecurity, gentrification and policing within our public schools,” Anderson said. “We are marching against everything that contributes to the oppression of black people on a global scale.”

Anderson said she wants “to see the city of Richmond completely divest” from the Richmond Police Department and “invest those millions into our community.”

“We want the city start valuing black lives,” said Anderson.

Anderson was raised in Richmond and serves as the community service coordinator for the Afrikan Student Union and as project director for the Afrikan Education Project at UCLA. She says she’s bringing her education and passion for activism back to her community in order to “unify, empower and uplift my people.”

Fellow organizer Armond Lee similarly believes the national movement should lead to a collective drive to action. Lee is a Richmond native, El Cerrito High graduate and current UCLA student double majoring in African American Studies and Sociology. He’s also project director of the Afrikan Education Project at UCLA and is focused on next-step actions.

“Our goal and objective is to use this moment of collectivity as a moment of action,” he said. “Many have asked the question: ‘What comes after protesting?'”

Lee said the purpose is to “offer up next-step actions.”

Added Anderson, “We plan to share our demands directed to the mayor and chief of police. We hope to share a safe space where we can collectively grieve as a community to all lives and loved one lost to police brutality.”