“The entire city showed up,” one person shouted from his car.
By Wafic Khalil
Indeed, it felt that way. At 4:40 pm on June 2, 2020, lines of cars stretched all the way to Washington and Raymond. We were inching toward First AME Church parking. By 4:55 pm, it was a complete stop in front of Washington Accelerated Elementary School. Toti O’Brien, one of our reporters, had already made it to the Church’s parking lot at 4:30 pm. Close to 100 people were spread out making signs. A few started venturing out to the cars lined up on Raymond, handing out directions of the caravan route to City Hall.
5:00 pm sharp, the car heading the caravan appeared in the distance. By that time, we had decided to move to the other side of the road, waiting for the Caravan to reach us. As the caravan made its way throughout the streets of Pasadena, we were encountering cars that were still trying to catch the tail end of the caravan. The route continued by making a right onto Washington Blvd., a left on Fair Oaks driving down past Jackie Robinson Park, a left at Villa, right on Los Robles, right on Walnut Ave, and left on Garfield. Cars were honking. Bicyclists were ringing their bells and assisting with the flow of traffic. Pasadena Police motor units assisted in blocking some of the traffic, while bicyclists, many from Pasadena Complete Streets Coalition, assisted in holding traffic at small intersections.
We reached the turn at Garfield and Walnut into Pasadena City Hall and Centennial Square around 5:20 pm. By now it was clear that many would not even make the last leg of the caravan route. Pasadena Police started instructing cars to circle around, where many found parking on adjacent streets. The mood was festive at Centennial Square. A live band filled the atmosphere with reggae music. Cars quickly filled up the entire square. A large gathering with proper social distancing already greeted us on both sides of the square. By that time, we were uploading our videos on the newspaper’s Instagram. A comment left by Armory Center of the Arts described the feeling of the moment: “History gets made by those who show up.” As politicians started speaking to the crowd, people of all ethnic backgrounds were feeling the solidarity of one voice. Some of the Politicians were milequetoast, for the exception of Tyron Hampton. One white woman yelled from behind: “Mayor Hampton 2024.” One person holding a “No Justice, No Peace” sign on the steps of City Hall behind one of the politicians shouted: “Oh yeah, how you gonna do that?”
Near the end of the event, cars were continuing to turn down Walnut and Garfield. More people were still showing up with signs and shouts. As we were leaving Centennial Square, police were still directing traffic and asking drivers to drive around and find more parking spaces. Pasadena Police were very calm, which contributed to the feeling of being safe. On the way back to the office, groups carrying signs were still converging on City Hall. It seemed the entire city, and some from neighboring cities, wanted to show their support. On June 2nd, 2020, for a brief moment, Pasadena felt like one city, with a shared moment of love cradling its City Hall dome.
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From Toti O’Brien:
To call the car caravan in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and in memory of George Floyd “joyful” would sound oddly inappropriate, due to the nature of the events that stirred the protest. But an echo, a trace of joy was among the hundreds of cars that orderly and patiently crisscrossed through the city of Pasadena in the evening of June 2nd, and I wondered what caused it. I believe it was the evidence that no Covid-induced fear could stop anyone from getting out and expressing what can’t go unexpressed. It was counting ourselves and see how many we were, and how solid. It was the opportunity to say “I’m present, brothers, sisters. I am present. I am here, no matter what.”
Wafic Khalil is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of ColoradoBoulevard.net. Toti O’Brien and Melissa Michelson contributed to this article.
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