Black Friday Protesters Stage "Die-In" at Bay Area Mall

11/26/2016 by Allan Hayes

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Black Friday, known as the start of the Holiday shopping season, is the busiest shopping day of the year. With millions of people crowding stores to get the first, and usually best sales of the season. This year protesters in Santa Rosa Plaza Mall, in Santa Rosa, California, gathered to stage a “die-in” protest. They hoped to raise awareness and to educate people about police brutality and the notion of implicit bias in the police force. The term used to nicely describe the racial profiling that leads to the murders of people of color by police officers.

The organization behind the protest was The Community Action Coalition of Sonoma County. They were spurred into action by the narrative that Donald Trump and his VP, Mike Pence, had set during the campaign and the coincidental timing of Erick Gelhaus’ promotion, the Santa Rosa police officer who murdered Andy Lopez.

During the campaign Trump said that it was basically ridiculous to accuse the police force of implicit bias. Though experts have stated we all have implicit bias and the best way to combat it is through openly talking about it.

Mike Pence, during the Vice Presidential Debate said, “Enough of this seeking every opportunity to demean law enforcement broadly by making the accusation of implicit bias every time tragedy occurs.” Which is a way of asking people not to talk about racism in the police force.

In Santa Rosa, Deputy Erick Gelhaus was quietly promoted to Sheriff even after killing a young boy playing outside nearly two and a half years later. News of the promotion was largely unheard of until protest groups started forming to talk about it.

When asked about the date chosen, organizers stated that Black Friday was not only chosen because of the busy nature, but also because consumerism is what causes the ignorance leading to Gelhaus’ promotion. One said, “People are out buying things instead of getting educated.” They also hold the belief that capitalism kills saying, “Police is based on property and the protection of property.”

During the events of the protest the small group of protesters, numbering 8 in total, laid themselves across the ground of the common areas of the mall while a spokesperson addressed the crowd, speaking on subjects of police brutality, racism, and intolerance.

The Black Friday protest hopes to educate people to prevent further murder of people of color by police officers and to demonstrate that this behavior is not justifiable. They also want to make it clear that the protest is not specifically anti-Trump, but against police brutality. Though due to Trump’s behavior and rhetoric the two are not mutually exclusive.

In July this year nearly 200 people of color had been killed by police officers, at a rate of 2.5 times as many white people. The Community Action Coalition of Sonoma County operates in Santa Rosa and plans to continue to take action against injustice, not just against people of color, but against any marginalized person. They are currently planning a march against discrimination on inauguration day.

Allan Hayes is a Politcal Blogger at CSuiteMusic 
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