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Action rally against violence held in downtown San Luis Obispo

Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 02:11:42-04

The NAACP, R.A.C.E. Matters, and Cal Poly Black Faculty and Staff hosted a rally outside the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse on Thursday

It got underway at 5 p.m. after a silent prayer walk from Canyon Hills church to the courthouse.

Following the death of George Floyd at the hand of a Minneapolis police officer, along with the recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, organizers say the goal of their rally is to take action against violence.

"The major issue we're going to be addressing is violence," said Rev. Stephen Vines, NAACP San Luis Obispo County Branch President. "Violence is the enemy of humanity. When we're talking about murder, we're talking about this. It's not the people, it's not the police, it's not this, it's the violence."

The rally wrapped up shortly before 6:30 p.m., and demonstrators began to march.

After marching around the downtown area, demonstrators knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the same amount of time a Minneapolis police officer held his knee against George Floyd's neck.

The peaceful protest ended at around 8 p.m.

"I thought it went really, really well," said Cheryl Vines of the NAACP SLO County Branch. "We had a great turnout, great speakers. I think we really brought our message through."

"Racism can not be tolerated in any generation, including this one," said Kenneth Parish, who spoke during the rally. "We must take a stand. We must eradicate racism. It injures communities. It injures nations. So this is one county among many, so we're so thankful to see the beginning of this wave."

It's estimated there were several thousand people in attendance.

This was the fourth protest in San Luis Obispo since Sunday.

Two of the previous protests in San Luis Obispo ended peacefully, but on Monday, police used tear gas to disperse protesters after nearly six hours. During the next protest on Wednesday, police worked closely with organizers to ensure the protest remained peaceful and demonstrators were safe. Police Chief Deanna Cantrell previously said police had trouble identifying and contacting the organizers of Monday's protest.

For a second day, San Luis Obispo County government buildings in the downtown area closed early. Those facilities include the new government center, courthouse annex, old courthouse, Child Support Services, Parks Department, and the library. They are expected to reopen at their regular times on Friday.