BY ALEEN ARSLANIAN
Glendale residents gathered at Doran Mini Park Sunday for a March for Black Lives. Organized by a coalition of organizations, individuals and groups, the peaceful protest was held to echo the current national outrage prompted by the May 25 killing of George Floyd and countless others who have died as a result of systemic injustice. The police estimated attendance to be more than 1,500.
While most protesters came prepared with signs, extra masks, snacks, and water bottles, demonstrators who gathered at the park at 3 p.m. had the opportunity to make signs with supplies provided by Clark Magnet High School students.
The crowd of peaceful protesters marched from Doran Mini Park to Glendale City Hall. They chanted “No Justice, No Peace” and “Black Lives Matter” throughout the three-mile march. A number of Glendale community members and organizations, who were stationed along the protest route, showed their support by passing out water bottles to the demonstrators.
The Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region and the United Human Rights Council of the Armenian Youth Federation were among the many community organizations that were supporting the march. Members of the ANCA Glendale chapter had set up an information booth and water station on Brand Boulevard. “We’re here today in solidarity, to help in any shape or form. We stand by our community members and we definitely want to seek justice,” noted Lucy Petrossian, Chairperson of the ANCA Glendale chapter.
By 4 p.m., the Glendale City Hall courtyard was filled with hundreds of demonstrators holding signs and chanting. Candles were passed out to attendees for the vigil.
At city hall, representatives of various Glendale-based organizations shared their sentiments. Speakers included Clark Magnet High School students, CEO of YWCA Glendale Tara Peterson, Los Angeles County Democratic Party Central Committee member Elen Asatryan, Glendale Unified School District Board member Nayiri Nahabedian, and a number of community members. Fr. Vatche Hayrapetyan delivered a message on behalf of Western Primate Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, and Fr. Ghevont Kirazian spoke on behalf of Western Prelate Archbishop Moushegh Mardisrossian.
“We operate in a context of amnesia when we must operate in historical truth,” stated Nahabedian, who assisted the students in organizing the march. “Blacks were forcibly brought here as slaves. Only after a bloody civil war with many whites still opposing freedom, were blacks ‘emancipated’ — only 155 years ago. Then they had another 100 years of legal segregation and legal discrimination until 1964 — 56 years ago. That’s the math we are operating in. Not to mention long-term, deep attitudes that laws alone do not change. Enough is enough. We stand together for what is decent, right and humane,” she concluded.
Demonstrators lit their candles at 5:30 p.m. and held a moment of silence for George Floyd, and all the other black lives lost to police brutality.
“Inspired and empowered anew by thousands of youth and the most diverse gathering I have ever witnessed in our city — all banding together peacefully against police brutality, racial injustice, oppression and discrimination,” wrote Asatryan in a Facebook post reflecting on the day’s events.
“This movement will force policy changes that have been needed for far too long. When those changes come, and they will come, you will have made our communities a safer place, a more welcoming place for every marginalized community, and our country a better place for all. So have the courage to rise up, speak out and help shape a better world for our future generations,” she concluded.