Menlo Park protesters march in reaction to Breonna Taylor indictment


Tomoki Chien

JT Faraji calls to the crowd through his bullhorn. On Friday, September 25, protesters gathered in Menlo Park, reacting to the grand jury indictment in Breonna Taylor’s case.

Protesters took to the streets of Menlo Park yesterday at 6 p.m. in reaction to the grand jury indictment in Breonna Taylor’s case. 

On Wednesday, September 23, Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor, was indicted with three counts of wanton endangerment, warranting a one- to five-year sentence and up to $10,000 in fines. None of the officers were charged with murder, including the officer who shot Taylor. 

Tha Hood Squad and Justice Vanguard, two local community service and awareness groups, organized the march, which began in Kepler’s Courtyard in Menlo Park and moved toward the Menlo Park Police Department (MPPD). 

“Taylor was murdered in her sleep, and the only charge was for the bullets that missed,” Tha Hood Squad Founder JT Faraji, who led the march, said. “We need a new system. It’s broken. It isn’t working, it has never worked. It only works for those who are rich and are in power, and we have to do better than that, we can do better than that.”

The march moved along El Camino Real, stopping in intersections for close to 15 minutes on the way to the MPPD building. At one point, Faraji approached a parked police vehicle and taunted the officer through his bull horn. 

“The MPPD is the most racist police department on the peninsula by far,” Faraji said, explaining why the protest was held in Menlo Park.

“I f*ckin’ love this,” Yara Gomez, a woman stuck in traffic caused by the protesters, said. “I would be here all day if I could. People just need to stay united and fight against these injustices.”

Once the march had reached the MPPD building, protesters gathered and yelled “go home cowards” and “quit your job” toward the police department. There was no police presence during the protest. 

One 82-year-old protester, Ann Davidson — part of activist group Raging Grannies — recalled hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” on the radio in 1963. 

“Up until recently, I had naively thought that Palo Alto was a relatively anti-racist community,” Davidson said. “However, my granddaughters’ experiences at their high schools have woken me up to the injustices in this community.” 

Davidson said she may lean slightly more to the right than others, but she firmly believes in taking a public stance against social injustice. 

“I am here, not only to fight against these injustices, but to fight against everything Donald Trump has said to belittle the BLM movement,” Davidson, speaking about how she thinks Trump seeks to discredit the protests, said. 

Davidson has been fighting this fight since she heard King’s speech.   

The group that Davidson is a part of, Raging Grannies, is an international organization of elderly women dedicated to promoting equality and social justice through music. Their songs address prevalent social issues in the world and are based off of popular hits. Some of their songs include “Wind and Solar” and “Our Favorite Things,” which inform listeners about issues such as healthcare and climate change. They also attend protests, advocating for the causes their songs are about. 

Another protester, who wanted to be cited as “C,” was waving both a BLM flag and the Philadelphia LGBTQ+ flag. 

“If you can stand with the LGBTQ+ community, but you refuse to fight alongside the Black community, then you are nothing more than a bigot,” C said. “The LGBTQ+ community and the Black community are intertwined.” 

Many attendees were also protesting against big corporations such as Amazon and Facebook that fund the MPPD. 

“The police should be for the people, not for big corporations,” Justice Vanguard advocate Kiyoshi Taylor, Los Altos High School ’15, said. 

Faraji said that these series of protests were only the beginning of a much larger Civil Rights movement.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight,” Faraji said. “Not too long ago, earlier generations were fighting this same fight through the Civil Rights movement. Now, another generation, and we’re still fighting the same sh*t.”

Faraji also spoke at length about the upcoming presidential election. 

“We have two choices for our next president, and neither one is right for us,” Faraji said. “You have Donald Trump, who is pretty much as openly racist and f*cking distgusting of a human being as you can be — right-wing blatant racism. On the other side, you have left-wing white supremacy. Joe Biden wrote most of the laws that caused mass incarceration and Black and brown people going into the prison system. Either way, you have white supremacy.”

The protest came to a close back in Kelper’s Courtyard, where Faraji spoke to the crowd again.

“We are going to be out here repeatedly, over and over again, protesting these injustices,” Faraji said. “This is our world, and we can make the world what we want it to be.”

Sunday, September 27: Ann Davidson’s name was previously spelled incorrectly. Davidson heard King’s speech over the radio, not in-person as originally stated. Kepler’s Courtyard was previously misspelled, and the link to the Justice Vanguard website has been corrected.