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By Will Fritz
Staff Writer 

Fallbrook residents protest death of George Floyd

Demonstration was entirely peaceful, a day after a tense standoff in Temecula between deputies and protesters


Last updated 6/4/2020 at 9:37am

A few dozen protesters turned out May 30 to the corner of Mission and Ammunition roads in Fallbrook to show solidarity with George Floyd - the black man who died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes - and the rest of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The demonstration came one day after a larger protest in Temecula turned into a tense standoff with sheriff's deputies once the Riverside County Sheriff's Department declared the protest to be an "unlawful assembly." It was also the morning after buildings burned in La Mesa, Los Angeles and other cities across the country as some protests became riots.

In Fallbrook, the demonstration was entirely peaceful, and little if any presence from San Diego County sheriff's deputies could be seen, a far cry from the inundation of law enforcement seen at other protests in the region.

One woman at the protest, Leticia Maldonado-Stamos, said she was attending the protest because of the "heartbrokenness" she said she felt from years of watching not only Floyd's death, but the deaths of other black people and people of color during interactions with police.

"My heart's just been broken by what's going on with our community and our country," Maldonado-Stamos said. "We're getting so separated and so divided and yesterday when we were watching the news it was just so much pain, and I thought I'm not white, I'm Latina, but I thought, we're all suffering. And I felt I needed to be a part of something that was expressing love and concern and I needed to be part of that."

Maldonado-Stamos, who was holding a sign that displayed "peace," "justice," and "equity" below the words "This is Church," said: "I feel like whatever I do is Jesus' way of bringing us together."

Another man at the protest, Ricardo Favela, said he was there to demonstrate allegiance between the Mexican American and black communities.

"This is a historic moment. I want to be a part of it. This is long overdue," he said.

He pointed to the shirt he was wearing, with the name of Anastacio Hernandez Rojas, a 42-year-old man who died in Border Patrol custody in 2010.

"I'm from the Mexican community, and we have gone through similar situations," Favela said. "He was brutally beaten and killed by a dozen Border Patrol agents 10 years, two days ago, on May 28."

Marisela Gonzalez, a Fallbrook Union Elementary School District teacher, said she felt that she needed to show up to the protest to show support for her students.

"I teach students of many colors. And I feel like I can't rightfully show up to my job without my students knowing that I'm here to support them for just being themselves," Gonzalez said.

Desireé Salomone, who said she is currently living in her hometown of Fallbrook while she takes a one-year leave of absence from her job as a public defender in Brooklyn, New York, said she assisted in coordinating the protest, but stressed that the demonstration came together organically through Facebook and word-of-mouth.

"This is pure organic," Salomone said. "This is not an organizer. If I could communicate anything, I would say that Fallbrook did this."

She said she was motivated after attending Saturday's protest in Temecula.

"I asked, who started this, what organization is this?" Salomone said she inquired of the other demonstrators at the Temecula protest. "They said, it's us - mostly young people. And I found that extremely inspiring."

Salomone said while she is white, she feels that "more and more," it is the responsibility of white people to stand up for and help organize support for people of color.

"I can take some of the heat and if I can take that off my brothers and sisters struggling with whole hosts of other types of oppression while I'm doing this work, then hell yeah, I'm gonna take that on."

Will Fritz can be reached by email at [email protected]


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