Piedmont protests: “Why does this keep happening?”

Black Lives Matter protest in Piedmont, June 2020

A Friday evening protest organized by a group of Piedmont 9th graders operating under the #blmpiedmont hashtag turned into a crowd of hundreds, as families turned out to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. The group of nearly 200, young and old alike, included the Piedmont Chief of Police Jeremy Bowers and Mayor Bob McBain, other city leaders, and a wide range of (masked) marchers of all ages.

Starting at the intersection of Highland and Wildwood Avenues, the gathering peacefully made its way up Wildwood, down Highland, and past the middle and high schools, ending up back in Piedmont Park where the young organizers — Jessica Liu, Taj Riebel, Alejandra Roy, Anne Reardon, Lilly Byers, and Mika Clear — spoke to the crowd. Mayor McBain and Chief Bowers also made comments.

“We are a small community, but not immune to outside events,” McBain said. He encouraged the young people gathered in the park to take this opportunity to make changes. “I’ve seen this before,” he said, reflecting on the social unrest of the 1960s and 70s, “and it’s not acceptable that it’s happening again. Don’t let 50 years go by again. Racism and intolerance are not acceptable,” he said. “We [the city] will continue to listen, learn and work” toward doing better.

Police Chief Bowers took the moment to reflect on what it meant for him to be both a police officer and a black man during this time. “I told our officers that if anyone thinks that what happened with George Floyd is ok, turn in your badge now,” Bowers said. “Change is coming. If you pull back you will see that this movement is about more than George Floyd, it’s about larger systemic issues.” (Bowers recently suspended the use of a technique known as the carotid control hold and will provide an informational report to the City Council on June 15 on existing policies, procedures, and training related to use of force.)

A parent organizer, Jennifer Long, invited march participants to come to the stage to share their thoughts and perspectives (a handful of students, young adults, and residents did so) and exhorted the protesters to make this the first step in a long march.

One thought on “Piedmont protests: “Why does this keep happening?”

Leave a Reply

The Exedra comments section is an essential part of the site. The goal of our comments policy is to help ensure it is a vibrant yet civil space. To participate, we ask that Exedra commenters please provide a first and last name. Please note that comments expressing congratulations or condolences may be published without full names. (View our full Comments Policy.)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *