Youth-led Black Lives Matter rally draws hundreds on Pacific Beach march

Protesters calling for racial justice march from Kate Sessions Park on June 24.
(Savanah Duffy)

Local teenagers organized a peaceful protest against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, drawing hundreds of young people to Kate Sessions Park on Mount Soledad on June 24.

Yasmine Gooley, 18, and Jaya Rivers, 17, circulated a flier for the protest on social media, and about 400 people, most of them younger than 25, gathered to call for an end to racism in policing and every other aspect of American life. The band Sundaze performed an acoustic set and speakers called for respect for black lives.

Gooley told PB Monthly that part of her motivation to organize the protest came from her family’s experience with racism, having immigrated to the United States from Iraq.

“I really didn’t want to sit back and do nothing. I didn’t feel like social media activism was enough for me,” she said.

One speaker who identified herself as Athena said: “I’m scared ... whenever I get pulled over by the cops. Three police cars and six officers are necessary to handle me and my expired registration. If that’s not an intimidation tactic, I don’t know [what is].”

Protesters march down Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach on June 24 to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Protesters march down Garnet Avenue in Pacific Beach on June 24 to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The group began at Kate Sessions Park.
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Speakers said it would be a mistake for people in power to dismiss recent rallies and protests for racial justice as a flash in the pan or some form of performance art, because the movement is neither.

“If I fall down or she falls down or someone else falls down, there’s gonna be another person to take our spot,” speaker Joey Moss said. “There’s going to be another person who is going to stand up and say something, so if they think it’s going to stop, it’s not. We’re in for the marathon. I love long distance.”

With nearly everyone wearing face coverings, the crowd began to march down Lamont Street to Garnet Avenue and into Pacific Beach to Crystal Pier.

As the march began, protester Allison Deyer told PB Monthly : “As a white person, I’ve always benefited from white privilege and systems that have oppressed other people. So my role out here is just helping to continue to raise voices of our black leaders and show that we’re not gonna put up with the murders of black people by the police.”

Allison Deyer carries her protest signs at Kate Sessions Park on June 24.
(Savanah Duffy)

Stacie Theise said racial injustice in America is “a lot more dire than a lot of us thought at first.”

Brooklyn Harris shared another perspective: “I’m multiracial. I grew up in San Diego kind of getting both sides of racism, so I think it’s important for me, being half African-American, to be out here also supporting this whole movement.”

Brooklyn Harris wears a mask marked with the words "I can't breathe."
Brooklyn Harris wears a mask marked with the words “I can’t breathe,” referring to what George Floyd repeatedly told a Minneapolis police officer May 25 as he knelt on Floyd’s neck before Floyd died.
(Savanah Duffy)

Holding signs with slogans such as “Only love can drown out hate” and “White silence is violence,” the demonstrators marched down a lane of Lamont Street while police on motorcycles managed the traffic ahead of them.

Some drivers honked their horns and cheered, and people came out of their homes to watch or wave “Black Lives Matter” signs from their doorsteps.

“It’s very important that we don’t stop doing this, that this isn’t a trend,” Gooley said. “And we have to start with bettering ourselves and our minds, coming together and truly knowing what it means to love a stranger ... and be passionate about their lives. To actually care that there are people being hurt and murdered and profiled.”