Protesters unite against growing acts of hate across the nation

Protesters took to the streets of Downtown Mountain View yesterday at 1 p.m. under the scorching heat to unite against the rising acts of hate crimes across the nation.

This protest — organized by Justice Vanguard founders and Los Altos High School graduates Kenan Moos, ’16, and Kiyoshi Taylor, ’15 — stemmed from months of anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate and continued police brutality toward the Black community. 

The marchers intended to demonstrate that even though one man — Derek Chauvin, who was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd — was convicted, protests demanding reforms aren’t going to stop, Taylor said. While the Justice Vanguard has organized Black Lives Matter (BLM) rallies in the past, this particular protest aimed to set new standards of unity. 

“We need justice,” Taylor said. “Today was about bringing the communities together who have been suffering for the past year and setting a new standard of unity, but also one of justice. It should not have taken one year for George Floyd to get justice. Even though the killings are still happening, the protest is about not letting the police just get away with it, but also about holding the community accountable.”

After a series of speeches given at the Mountain View Civic Center — including talks from Los Altos Mayor Neysa Fligor and former Mountain View Mayor Lenny Siegel — the protesters marched down the streets of Downtown Mountain View, chanting “The people united will never be divided!” and “We are beautiful, we are strong, we are united!” 

“Just because you think things are getting quiet or that one man got convicted doesn’t change anything,” protester Cordelia Larsen said. “If we’re not here making noise, then we’re laying down our movement after one conviction. Instead, we have got to remind the system that they are wrong and that we are here to continually pressure and fight for change.”

Both Fligor and Siegel expressed support for the movement, imploring youth to continue fighting and holding those in power accountable.

“Unity is how we succeed,” Fligor said. “It’s not about dividing and pitting different groups of people against each other. We all want the same things, the same rights. The only way we will succeed and continue to bring justice to the causes that many of our youth are fighting for is if we continue to make noise and continue to stay united.”

LAHS junior Jeannette Wang echoed the sentiment, stating that unity between the AAPI community and the Black community is especially important right now.

“I think this march is really important,” Jeannette said. “Communication between the AAPI community and the Black community is definitely lacking at times. It’s really important to establish that we’re not trying to compete with each other. Some people commandeered the phrase ‘Asian Lives Matter’ and it’s not appropriate because it pits two movements against each other when we should be supporting each other.”

The Raging Grannies, an activist group that includes individuals who have been protesting since the Vietnam War, were also present at the protest calling for change and unity. “Grannies” have attended dozens of local protests, including the many BLM protests last summer and held their own protest in October of last year. 

“If there is one message that I can send to the youth of our community, it would be to keep pushing for change,” granny Ruth Robertson said. 

To close out the protest, the protesters circled back to the Civic Center, where a few more speeches from Taylor, Moos and various other protesters were given, words of unity booming across the open pavilion. 

Alta Vista High School senior Lauren Kermode spoke about how these words of unity apply to many different minority groups, including the LGBTQ+ community.

“‘United we bargain, divided we beg,’” Kermode said, quoting the Labor Union. “That really resonates with the minorities in this country trying to make change because if we aren’t marching together — if these communities and marches discriminate against a certain group of people — then there’s no reason to do them. That means you are leaving someone behind.”

Moos and Taylor ended the protest after requesting all those present to exchange phone numbers because, as they said, the fight for unity doesn’t end after they leave.

“The fight for unity and justice is an ongoing battle that is a marathon, not a sprint,” Moos said.

Monday, May 3: This story has been updated for clarification, the Raging Grannies as an organization has been around for 20 years, not since the Vietnam war as previously stated. Some grannies, however, have been marching in protests since the Vietnam war. 

Saturday, May 8: This story has been updated to correct the misspelling of Lauren Kermode’s name.