by Maddie Dewhirst
On Sat., Aug. 1, approximately 200 Los Gatos residents gathered in the Town Plaza to protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The event began with speeches from community members and leaders. Los Gatos Councilwoman Marico Sayoc spoke about the importance of voting in local elections and the impact citizens can have on the policies of a small town. Mayor Marcia Jensen also gave a speech, urging people to “listen to what you’re going to hear today, learn from what you’re going to hear today, and respect what you’re going to hear today.”
The march began after all the scheduled speeches came to a close. Members of Tha Hood Squad, a local organization of artists and activists, led the march, with leaders often running ahead to block off intersections. Call and response messages like “Black is beautiful! Black is strong!” and “Whose streets? Our streets!” could be heard for the duration of the peaceful march.
While there were posts online leading up to the march about a potential counter protest, none actually materialized. Some residents opined “We need to stop standing by and letting this silliness go on. We need to counter protest. And I do mean protest not this illegal rioting.” Some posts were of a more violent nature, with one person claiming “I have no problems in running them over, but I don’t want to damage my car.” Despite the absence of an organized counter protest, there were a few shouts of “all lives matter” and “police lives matter” that could be heard from residents eating at local restaurants. One older man even approached a 17-year-old organizer and exclaimed that she “deserved to be thrown in jail, or, better, get shot for what [she] was doing.” Although there were similar interactions between onlookers and demonstrators, Councilwoman Sayoc was there to step in and de-escalate before any potential arguments could take place.
The march culminated at the intersection of Main Street and North Santa Cruz Avenue. Protestors gathered in a circle, blocking any cars from entering. Rising Senior Donya Behroozi, who organized the protest, spoke about the death threats she faced leading up to Saturday, and the importance for the Los Gatos community to come together and support people of color.
Protestors then moved back to the plaza where Tha Hood Squad began an open mic. Community members spoke about their own experiences of being people of color in Los Gatos, the need for people to get involved in local politics to initiate change, and for school curricula to include the historical impact of minority groups on society.