Teachers speak at local Black Lives Matter protest

BVH students and alumni march in Eastlake


Carina Muniz

On June 7, 2020, Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher Don Dumas attended and spoke at the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) held at Eastlake Parkway to speak about the injustices African-American people face. Dumas also spoke about the racism he sees among schools within the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD).

Nearly 300 masked people began clapping and cheering as Advanced Placement U.S. History teacher Don Dumas stood on the stairs overlooking the crowd of protesters and spoke of the racial injustices within  schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD).

On June 7, 2020, students, teachers, parents and speakers gathered on Eastlake Parkway in Chula Vista to protest for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement against the racism and police brutality of George Floyd and many other victims. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. speakers, such as Dumas and Integrated Math 1 teacher Ray Peterson Jr., gave speeches about personal experiences with the police and racism. After the protest, supporters marched along the park and shopping center chanting and holding up signs.

“Change structures and policies that are responsible for explosion,” Dumas said in his speech. “We are here to say, ‘Yes, we demand the defunding of police.’”

2019-2020 BVH alumnus Michelle Ortega and incoming senior Sequoia Kriss were among the many people who  attended the protest to show their support for the BLM movement. Both supporters found out about the protest through social media platforms — Kriss through Dumas’s Twitter account and Ortega through an Instagram post.

“[I am here] to support BLM and get justice for everybody,” Kriss said. “I support BLM and I think that everybody should have equal rights and be treated equally, and no one should be killed for the color of their skin. I think that this is a really good movement because we’ve been fighting for it for hundreds of years now since slavery.”

Before the protest Kriss attended another BLM protest held on June 6, 2020, where supporters marched from downtown San Diego to Hillcrest’s Pride Flag. Contrastingly, the protest in Eastlake was the first Ortega attended in order to help spread the message against racism and police brutality.

“I don’t even know why [police brutality] is happening. They’re trained to de-escalate situations, but they’re using horrible tactics to win,” Ortega said.

Similarly to Dumas, Peterson spoke at the protest about his personal experiences with police and what it is like to be African-American in the United States today. According to Peterson, Dumas reached out to him a day before the protest with an invitation to speak due to the small amount of speakers listed to give speeches.

“I do not believe that all cops are bad cops. I do believe that good cops that are silent fall in the bad cop category. If you are allowing bad things to happen, but yet you are good, that confuses me. It confuses me in terms of what is considered good,” Peterson said.

Peterson stated that seeing the supporters at the protest gave him a “great” feeling because of the support that was manifested physically. The protests are important to Peterson because all members of the community are participating and supporting the BLM movement.

“To me this is a lifetime changing event, and I’m not necessarily just speaking of the [protest] that happened on Sunday. I’m talking about the overall movement, and I think history is being made as we speak. We have a different narrative based on the fact that we’re visibly seeing our fellow men murdered in the streets, at parks, at home–at Walmart [and] it is continuing to get old,” Peterson said.

Despite the risk of receiving COVID-19, the protestors continued to show their support by marching with their signs held up and chanting phrases like “I can’t breathe,” in reference to George Floyd’s death, and “No Justice, No Peace. No racist police.”

“It is a beautiful sight to see other races, nationalities [and] cultures supporting the cause and understanding that at this moment in time, black lives are being mistreated,” Peterson said.