San Mateo police report that about 2,000 people attended a peaceful protest and march in San Mateo Wednesday over the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
The event, organized by teens from the local chapter of Coalition Z in coordination with the city, included a demonstration at San Mateo City Hall about 5 p.m. and a 1.7 mile walk to the San Mateo Police Department for a 3-minute moment of silence. Protesters chanted loudly for justice, and some took issue with law enforcement showing up to the demonstration in riot gear. But in the end the event remained calm, with no reports of injuries or damages to businesses. Some business owners and community volunteers passed out water to protesters.
In a statement, the San Mateo Police Department commended a “wonderful turnout” and pledged to citizens a commitment to listen, learn and stand beside them “against racism and discrimination wherever it exists.” That message drew praise in the community and also skepticism over whether gestures of solidarity will ultimately result in a solution to systemic racism.
Event speakers included former San Mateo Mayor Claire Mack, lawyer Jonathan Madison, Rev. Lorrie Owens of the San Mateo NAACP, San Mateo-Foster City School Board Trustee Shara Watkins and San Mateo County Democratic Central Committee Corresponding Secretary Alexis Lewis, among other local activists.
“Proud to represent proud Black Americans and a multiracial community that gets it,” Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who also attended and spoke at the event, posted to Facebook.
Speier called racism a pandemic and added, “George Floyd has changed America forevermore.”
San Mateo Councilmember Amourence Lee, whose home was targeted on Tuesday by a rock-thrower in an incident police are investigating as a possible hate crime, also joined the protest.
“My message to folks is that this one event cannot be the end of our collective action– it must be the beginning if we want to see real change,” Lee said on Facebook. “That means showing up to our city council meetings, joining our boards and commissions, getting involved in our neighborhood associations, and Neighborhood Watch groups. This is a long march, it is a test of our values and stamina – stay in it for the long haul.”