By Caleb Lunetta and Tammy Murga
After hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Santa Clarita on Thursday, about 100 took a knee outside City Hall on Friday to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Although attendance was far lower than Thursday’s protest, which saw about 800 people, Friday’s group consisted of a vast majority of young people who reiterated a similar message from that of the previous day: education over violence.
“This fight will not be fought with violence; it will be fought with education,” said one demonstrator, who addressed the message to several dozen protestors via a megaphone near the entrance of City Hall, which closed Thursday and Friday.
Several speakers from the group incited attendees to register to vote, make their voices heard, demand a change in law enforcement’s use-of-force policies and to vote out the current members of the City Council, after asking why City Hall had to remain closed for a second day.
After raising their fists and chanting “no justice, no peace,” the group also sang “Happy Birthday” in unison to Breonna Taylor, a black 26-year-old woman who was fatally shot in her home by Louisville Metro Police Department officers while serving a “no-knock” warrant in March.
Friday’s group of demonstrators started with about two dozen on the intersection of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard. Among them was 16-year-old Kelsey Schauble, who said Friday was her first time out protesting since demonstrations in response to Floyd’s death began last weekend nationwide.
“I think we wanted to scope it out first and see if it was safe because we know that the only way this is going to get through in the right way is peaceful,” she said. “We wanted to be a part of the peaceful cause. (Thursday), we drove around and protested in our cars and made laps around about eight times.”
Nearby was Aaron Walker, a medic from Castaic who wore a white helmet with a red cross and said he had been trained to aid in protests and street actions.
“I’ve been attending actions down in the valley and in downtown L.A. for a while. This is the first significant one I’ve seen in my own neighborhood so I just decided to come up here and bring my skills. It’s a cliche but you prepare for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.
Law enforcement remained in the area, patrolling perimeters at the intersection, the Westfield Valencia Town Center, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station and near City Hall. By noon, barriers were set up along sidewalks, appearing to prevent protesters from walking on the roads.
The businesses that share the parking lot with Kohl’s and Whole Foods, near the intersection of McBean Parkway and Valencia Boulevard, were carrying on with business as usual on Friday. The businesses had largely been closed on Thursday, but with a number of law enforcement vehicles now parked inside the lot, residents and customers spent the morning shopping and eating.
The Westfield Valencia Town Center remained closed on Friday, and mall security officers were only allowing law enforcement vehicles into the parking lot.
Throughout the day, the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station had a few dozen deputies and law enforcement personnel standing in front of its facility. The staging area for most law enforcement remained at Six Flags Magic Mountain, and the National Guard has been scheduled to remain in Santa Clarita until the end of the weekend, according to Sheriff’s Station officials.