Protesters march through the streets in support of the People’s Budget

Editor’s note: The previous version of this story included an embedded tweet that had an expletive regarding the mayor, that has been removed per our publisher’s request.

Just weeks before the City is set to release its annual budget proposal, protesters marched down Pine Avenue in support of the People’s Budget on Saturday, July 18.

The People’s Budget, a collaborative effort between Long Beach nonprofits, was released last month.

The proposal calls for more affordable housing, community health councils and divestment from the police, among other requests.

Two months ago, the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin acted as the catalyst for a nationwide movement against police brutality.

Many are taking the moment of unrest as a chance to push for greater accountability from police.

“The murder of George Floyd on May 25 brought us to the streets once again to demand justice and an end to police violence,” Audrena Redmond from Black Lives Matter Long Beach said. “Today, we are building on the momentum to demand an end to state violence. State violence in the form of things less than.”

Many, too, have used it as an opportunity to voice their grievances with local governments. The People’s Budget seeks to address these grievances through policies that address structural racism.

“Our communities have paid in blood and sacrifice for the things demanded in the People’s Budget,” Redmond said. “We’re here in solidarity for our lives, for our families and for our communities. Quite frankly, ultimately, we’re here in solidarity for this country and our future.”

Protesters began their march at Cesar E. Chavez Park in downtown Long Beach, chanting “The people, united, will never be divided,” and “All Black lives matter.” They were met with approving honks from nearby drivers and waves from apartment dwellers.

Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune
One of the demands of the People’s Budget is divestment from the police and reallocation of those funds into community programs, housing and language access, among other demands. (Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

Midway through their march, the group spent 20 minutes in the middle of the intersection of Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard, sharing chants and speeches. Long Beach police officers on motorcycles and in vehicles directed traffic away from some streets.

Mac Harris, a youth ambassador for the Long Beach Invest in Youth Coalition, took to the megaphone to share her thoughts.

“The pandemic was a strong disruption to my healing process and the ways I have learned to survive,” Harris said. “It’s resources and spaces like these that help young people not only feel safe, but seen and uplifted.”

Mac Harris, a youth ambassador for the Long Beach Invest in Youth Coalition, shares a spoken-word poem in the middle of the intersection of Pine Avenue and Ocean Boulevard. (Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

She began to share a spoken-word poem as traffic backed up on Pine Avenue. A block away, a caravan of cars draped with signs honked in solidarity.

Other drivers, frustrated with the congestion, maneuvered U-turns to avoid the intersection.

One man in a black Honda Civic pointed his car towards an opening and revved his engine towards a protester, seemingly intending to drive into the man, who promptly sat on the ground with his hands in the air.

The protester was immediately met with support as the group gathered around him with their hands in the air. As a crowd gathered, the driver navigated his car away from the protesters and drove away from the demonstration.

A protester sits on the floor with his hands up after a driver in a black Honda Civic revved his engine towards him, seemingly intending to drive into him. (Emma DiMaggio | Signal Tribune)

Protesters marched westward down Ocean Boulevard towards Long Beach City Hall, clapping and chanting “Black lives, they matter here.”

“This system cannot be reformed. It must end. We are telling Garcia to end it. We are telling [the Long Beach Police Department] we will not stand for this anymore. That’s why we are here,” Vick Bouzi, a representative from Democratic Socialists of America Long Beach, said. “We will continue to be here and out in these streets.”

The protest wrapped up with a final chant outside city hall, “Chant down Babylon, Black people are the bomb. We ready, aye, f*** Garcia!”

Executive Director of Long Beach Forward James Suazo hopes that the demonstration will help city officials recognize the demands of the community.

“It’s not just about putting money into these priorities, but actually fundamentally looking at the way that we fund the city and run the city,” Suazo said. “These are serious matters and the people will be watching.”

Disclaimer: The content of this article does not reflect the opinions of the Signal Hill Tribune.

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