written by Michael Lira, photography by Matthew Escobar
On Tuesday, June 2nd, over 3,500 people showed up in person and in their cars to hold a peaceful vigil at Pasadena City Hall for those recently murdered at the hands of the police. Despite the ongoing global pandemic, the largest crowd in Pasadena I’ve seen in fourteen years of living here gathered to demand justice, healing, and change not just for George Floyd, or Breonna Taylor, or Ahmaud Arbery, but for every black and brown person. The Pasadena Branch of the NAACP and NDOLON along with faith based communities arranged the caravan and vigil as a very important place for people to be seen and heard.
The caravan starting at the First AME church in Pasadena was so successful that traffic everywhere in Pasadena was effected. The caravan’s size was matched by the sea of masked people showing up outside of city hall for moving talks, music, and community building.
One of the speakers asked everyone there to make the horrors BIPOC face from the state and citizen alike a daily meditation. She implored us to think about these issues not just when the news cameras are rolling but everyday, as those who face them face them everyday. We were reminded of now more than every how important it is to put money back into black communities by supporting blacked owned businesses.
Finally, I saw something I believe every human being on this earth should be made to see. In front of all the people gathered, Mr. Robert Grant III brought his grandson on stage to tell him the all-too-real message that there are people out there that want to hurt him because of the color of his skin. He went on to reassure his grandson though that first he himself would not let anything bad happen to him. He went on to say then that even if he his grandfather did not make it that not to worry as his twenty fraternity brothers behind him would pick up the mission and protect him from all those who wanted to hurt him. He finally said even if all his fraternity brothers and himself did not make it to look out at the crowd and know that every single individual there would do the same for him.
I can only speak for myself, but I did not have a dry eye. This has become my daily mediation. The society we decide to build together now going forward must be one where conversations like this no longer must take place. This is not just what possible, this is not just what we all deserve, this is what needs to happen.
Thanks to organizations like the NAACP we live in a time where finding the steps to build the community we all deserve and want to see are more abundant and accessible than ever. The vigil on Tuesday was not just a reminder of the number of people who want to see change, but also the number of ways we can begin to enact that change right here at home.