The streets of Sunnyvale were filled on Friday, June 5 when thousands turned out to participate in a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. The march started at Cityline Redwood Square in Downtown Sunnyvale and moved to City Hall. It was organized by a group of young adults from Sunnyvale.
“We wanted to take action specifically for Sunnyvale,” said Chris Gough, one of the seven organizers listed on the protest’s Facebook page. “We wanted to ensure the march followed our beliefs and those of the [Black Lives Matter] movement; joining another march was out of the question.”
Gough says he knew many of the organizers before the event and they knew they would be doing 100 percent of the work. Participants were impressed.
“They were very good about making sure people have food, water, masks; signs if they needed it. Pretty much everything was provided, all you needed to do was show up, which was really cool,” said Sunnyvale resident Joanna Harris.
Harris’ 13-year-old niece, Malana Dinwiddie, also attended the event and even got up to speak to the crowd.
“They had said anybody can come and speak…my niece was like, ‘Well, I want to speak.’ and me and my sister said, ‘Oh, okay,’” said Harris. “It was totally unplanned…she just said it off of her mind and how she felt.”
Both Gough and Harris were very happy to see such a large turnout.
“I was not expecting the turnout we got, and for the most part, I feel that we provided a suitable platform for voices in the Sunnyvale African-American community as well as others who have faced marginalization in the past,” said Gough. “Beyond awakening the Sunnyvale community and sparking conversation on this topic, providing that platform was essentially the goal of the protest.”
That conversation has already started at the city’s highest level.
“I was really, really moved by Obama’s Town Hall last week and signing on to the mayor’s pledge, to me, was pretty critical,” said Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, who also attended the peaceful protest. “It’s basically pledging, from a city standpoint, that we will review, engage, report, and then conceivably reform what the city does as far as our policies are concerned.”
Klein says the dialogue has already started with Deputy City Manager Jaqui Guzman, who is planning a number of public sessions so the city can better understand the community’s concerns. He says he is heartened by what saw at Friday’s march.
“I was very proud about the turnout and just how everyone was there to talk about issues that they’ve had; good and bad experiences with our public safety,” said Klein. “From my standpoint, I was directly affected when watching the videos from Minneapolis. It was a good way to come together as a community and deal with that heartache and outrage as far as what happened.”
“I feel like it was a great event. I feel like it definitely showed solidarity within Sunnyvale,” said Harris. “I definitely feel like even though that happened, that people have to realize it wasn’t just this last week…it’s still a fight that continues. Hopefully, everybody continues to either voice their opinion whether it’s social media or educating their friends or making donations…It was great event, but I hope it doesn’t stop.”