As many protests across the country have taken a violent turn, journalists have been caught in the middle. Open-source investigation site Bellingcat has documented at least 113 incidents in which journalists have been attacked by law enforcement since May 28. In Minneapolis, on May 29, three members of a CNN crew were arrested while covering a protest; it was captured live, the camera still rolling even after the cameraman was handcuffed. Three journalists in Eugene, Oregon were covering protests post-curfew on May 31, and can be heard on video identifying themselves as press to police. “It doesn’t matter,” an officer replies – even though journalists are exempt. The three were tear-gassed. In some cases, protesters have targeted the press. The Raleigh, North Carolina office of Indy Week (the Weekly of their community) was destroyed on May 31. Reporter Leigh Tuss was still working close to 2am, when someone threw a brick through the glass. Tuss left safely before more glass was smashed and people entered, stole a computer and set fire to furniture. “The office – and everything in it – is a total loss,” Editor Jeffrey Billman wrote.
“I live next door. This is like my pantry. I’m not going to wear a mask in my own pantry.”
-An unmasked woman explaining her reason for not wearing a mask while waiting in line at Mal’s Market in Seaside.
GOOD WEEK / GREAT WEEK
This week, hundreds of people in Monterey County have joined together in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, calling for justice for George Floyd, police reforms and an end to racism. They are a broad coalition of young and old, black and white and brown, and they have remained peaceful in more than a half-dozen events since May 30 in Salinas, Monterey and Seaside. In some cases, protesters have marched (unplanned), and police have safely created a perimeter to divert traffic and allow protesters to claim the streets. One protester, 70-year-old Gail Ellis of Salinas, says she believes the current movement can inspire change on the scale of civil rights in the 1960s, and that Monterey County’s peaceful protests are exemplary: “The news media is not showing protests such as this one,” she says. “I may be a Pollyanna, but I believe this is more representative.”
The turnout of first-time protesters and young people at the marches all over the county reflects a new generation rising up. In Seaside on June 2, about 2,000 people gathered, many of them teens. Sisters Heidi Perez (17) and Helen Perez (14) of Seaside brought paper-plate signs (“We Stand Together”) to participate in their first-ever protest – and both felt like they were being heard, and they’re optimistic that there will be change in the future. “We want to represent that we all stand together, and everyone really has a right to be heard,” says Heidi, who just graduated from Seaside High School. “2015 is when they legalized gay marriage. That was during my lifetime. When women got the right to vote, it was my grandpa’s lifetime. Everything is a part of history, and we’re living it.” It’s inspiring stuff, especially from a teen.