Locals show their support for George Floyd on Sepulveda Boulevard

By Anthony Torrise

Locals, supporters and activists raised their voices in a series of peaceful protests along Westchester’s Sepulveda corridor
Photos Courtesy of Madison, Jerome and Darlene Jones.

Over the past two weekends, the people of Westchester and other surrounding cities gathered bearing signs to spread a message of unity and love through peaceful demonstrations on Sepulveda Boulevard.

On the weekend of May 30, between 200 to 300 people attended that Saturday’s demonstration which went from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and was organized by Ladera Heights local Madison Jones. About 65 people attended Sunday’s demonstration from 4 to 5 p.m., organized by Ahmanise Sanati and Haan-Fawn Chao of Westchester.

The protests continued with even more energy as about 500 people crowded the same area last Sunday, according to Sanati. City Councilmember Mike Bonin was also in attendance amid the crowd.

Following the recent COVID trend, participants were even welcome to protest from their car.

“As a group we came from a lot of different places. There were a lot of people of different races, of different ages and I think that the most powerful thing was that we had one thing in common and that was to spread love and to support George Floyd’s family, friends and loved ones. We want to fight for equality,” said Jones.

The socially distanced crowd marched from the Westchester YMCA to Kohls, crossed the street, then made their way back to the YMCA. Signs with phrases like “I can’t breathe,” “Justice for George Floyd,” and “Black Lives Matter” expressed the crowd’s desire for change.

“We all just wanted to demonstrate in peace,” said Jones. “There was a lot of love, [but] we’re all angry by the death of George Floyd.”

While protests across the country, and even in neighboring Santa Monica, have been marred by looting and violence, Westchester’s demonstrations have been peaceful between demonstrators and the police so far.

“One police car actually drove by and gave us a big thumbs up,” remarked Chao. “I think that law enforcement appreciated that we were trying to at least abide by the rules of face masks and keeping distance and that made a big difference, and we connected with them and told them about our plans for the day.”

While Westchester’s protests have not drawn as much media attention as those in Santa Monica or Venice, the people of Westchester are making sure that they are heard.

“I think that being a small pocket in a big metropolis [means that] sometimes everybody rushes to the center of it to make a demonstration and it maybe seems like we don’t have a voice here in Westchester, but we do,” said Sanati.