by Alaina Fox
On Fri., May 29, Bay Area resident Crystal Rosas attended a San Jose demonstration in response to George Floyd’s murder at the hands of four Minneapolis policemen. This week, Rosas spoke with El Gato News about her reasons for attending, her reflections on the protest, and her recommendations for people who want to involve themselves in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alaina Fox: To start with, do you want to introduce yourself?
Crystal Rosas: I was born in Hayward, so I’m from the Bay Area. I live now in San Leandro. I went to school in Oakland and San Leandro, and now I work in San Francisco at iHeartRadio. I have a night radio show on the radio station called WILD 94.9. I’m the night host, and I talk on the radio every night. I post a blog every night, and I have a nightly podcast too.
F: Can you talk a little bit about how you found out about the protest and why you decided to attend?
R: I found out about the protests through Instagram. I think someone posted it on their story. I was seeing a few different protests go around. I really wanted to make sure that I was part of one that was backed up by an organization that was legitimate, and I saw that it was. So, I thought, this is going to be something organized and something that is for a good cause. It was calling for justice for George Floyd. So, I decided I was going to go. I posted it to my social media that I was going to be there. I made a sign, and I asked my little cousin if he wanted to come. He came too. We drove from San Leandro to San Jose and parked maybe a block away from the address on the flyer, which was San Jose City Hall.
F: I know things were pretty peaceful for the most part, but near the end, it started to get a little chaotic. Were you expecting there to be any violence on either side of the protest?
R: I knew going into it that I wanted to be there just for getting to City Hall, doing the march, and then marching back. I did have a hunch that things could get violent. I think that there were a lot of angry people there. And I can see that after we had marched already to City Hall, that the people who came a little later and [who] were continuing from the original protest were very angry. So that kind of made me want to just leave after the initial round, and then just go home and finish my night off…because I did have to work on Friday. People are angry, and when people gather to protest and are angry, you can probably expect that if a protest carries on, maybe there will be violence because of how angry people are.
F: Do you think the presence of COVID-19 impacted the protest in any way?
R: I think it did, in the sense that you see a lot of people with masks. Everyone who was protesting was with masks because there are regulations here in California that if you are going to be within six feet of people, you need to wear a mask. I think protestors are taking it as seriously as you can. I don’t see protestors sharing water bottles. I don’t see protestors high-fiving or whatever the case may be. People are, for the most part, keeping to themselves, joining in unity by kneeling or fists up. You don’t see protestors really touching each other much. It is taken into account for sure. But I think a lot of people feel that more black people have died from racism than COVID-19. So when you’re thinking of and wanting to protest, what matters here, keeping the six feet distance from people or trying to stand up for justice, right?
F: What would your definition of success be for these protests, or what message do you want people to take away? How do you hope things change?
R: What do I want to come out of these protests? The reason that I’ve been seeing a lot and what I feel is that it’s unfair that the total four officers have not been arrested and charged [as of the date of this interview]. That’s what people have been demanding from the beginning, and it’s been almost a week, and that has not happened. So that is one thing. Also, all the other cases — Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery — all the other cases that people are using the hashtag and fighting for. People are not going to be happy and feel like this is a success if those officers also do not get charged in their given counties so that police departments acknowledge that there is racism and discrimination within their departments. I think that all police chiefs should acknowledge it, and should say that they’re sympathetic and say that they want to change too. I think that’ll be a big success. You’re seeing a lot, as of right now, this exact moment, 8:02 PM in California, you see that police chiefs are kneeling with protesters, are coming out to speak, and are saying that there is a racial discrimination problem in the United States against black Americans. And that they are not willing to stand with it and that they make sure that all their officers also take that oath that they will be making an effort to change how they police. I think that is a great success to come out of everything that’s happening.
F: If other people within the Bay Area, or even nationally, want to get involved with the movement, what would your recommendations be for them?
R: If someone wants to get involved with the Black Lives Matter movement, you need to do a form of action. You need to acknowledge that that there’s a problem of discrimination, acknowledge that you are an ally of the Black Lives Matter movement. You need to sign petitions if you want to make a change. If you see phone numbers of these mayor’s offices to call that are not working towards change, you need to make phone calls. Posting on your social media, anything of awareness, anything of acknowledgement, anything that [you do as] an ally helps. Donating. You don’t have to speak on social media, but if you are donating and putting money to a cause, that helps as well. If you are standing up for justice within your family, if you hear family member conversations, friend conversations that do not stand for the cause, you need to be strong, even though it’s hard. You should be strong and stand up for people around you and in your family who don’t believe that discrimination, racism, exists and don’t believe that we should all be changing it in America.