Taft residents walk Rails to Trails, gather to denounce racism
About 125 Taft residents walked four blocks down Rails to Trails Saturday evening to listen to their neighbors denounce racism in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers.
March organizer Hailee Lopez said the idea just snowballed after group text to her friends. It was announced on social media, and grew in size.
Originally called a protest that would be held on Center Street, Lopez put out a new flier after meeting with Taft Mayor Dave Noerr and the Taft Police Department and changed the route to Rails to trails.
She also changed it from a "Protest" to an "awareness walk."
"After George Floyd's death a lot of people said 'enough is enough,'" Lopez said. "This is just to show Taft's peaceful side. People like us need to stand up for African-Americans, for Latinos for all people of color."
The event was uneventful with only a small amount of heckling and the marchers listened to several speakers at the Oilworker Monument, the walked back in silence to Second Street where they disbanded.
The speakers included Rev. Steven McDaniel of the Revival Worship Center, who "we are all created in God's image."
Others spoke of the racism in society and what they had seen in Taft. They spoke out against discrimination in all forms
Afterwards, Lopez said she was pleasantly surprised at the number of people who showed up.
"It went fantastic... Oh my gosh the number of people from the community that came out here. I thought only about 15 people would come.
Despite a firestorm of comments on social media both for and against the event, it went off without a hitch. A smaller counter demonstration was held several blocks away.