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Friends of Voices: 

Say his name: George Floyd.

The anger and frustration over people of color being killed by police has finally boiled over, with the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis the spark that lit the fire of thousands of demonstrations around the world. Most protests were peaceful, as they were here in the Monterey Bay area. Local police chiefs and officers have expressed solidarity with the protesters, and Chief Andy Mills of Santa Cruz even took a knee in a much-publicized photograph by the Santa Cruz Sentinel's Shmuel Thaler.

Voices attended those events as well, and we share images from weekend rallies in Monterey, Salinas and Santa Cruz. For those who want to take part, we've got an evolving schedule (see under Quick and Dirty Voices, below). Anyone who attends is reminded to social-distance and to wear a mask. An easy way to stay updated is by following #montereycountyprotest on Instagram or check indybay.org.

We've also got an amazing video of 19-year-old Salinas poet Kenya Renea Burton, who read her poem, "For George," at protests in Salinas and Monterey. We're grateful to have her permission to share her poem with you. It's raw and heartbreaking.

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By the way, if you've ever wondered just how the Santa Cruz Clock Tower got to be the happening place for the community's many demonstrations, rallies, protests and other events, you can find out more about the clock tower's history and mystery in this piece by correspondent Susan Landry.

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An Episcopal minister who last year left Carmel Valley for a prestigious position as rector of a Washington D.C. church found himself unexpectedly thrust into the headlines this week as a result of President Donald Trump's controversial photo op. The Rev. Rob Fisher has been using his moment in the spotlight to speak out against racism and the use of force in clearing peaceful protestors from Trump's path on Monday. I caught up with Fisher's wife, Sarah Wood, via Messenger as the media madness descended.

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And of course, we're still in a pandemic. But help has arrived for those who are having hard times in Greenfield, thanks to World Central Kitchen. The Washington D.C.-based nonprofit enlisted the help of six local restaurants to feed people weekly in the South Monterey County city. World Central has teamed up with 1,800 restaurants throughout the United States to help businesses and communities. Víctor Almazán has the story for us en español and an English translation is coming in the near future.

Victor will be writing a series of articles in Spanish that we'll share with you in the coming weeks, thanks to a generous grant to Voices that was recently awarded by Google News Initiative

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Meanwhile, I hope you are continuing to follow our Central Coast Update blog, designed to help keep you abreast of the breaking COVID-19 news on the Central Coast.

We've got another useful list coming soon — for people who want to take a stand against racism — put together by Voices' assistant Mara Reynolds, which also will be added to and enhanced on a regular basis. 

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Voices is eternally grateful for all the emotional and financial support we're getting during these perilous times. Thanks to all of you, we can continue to serve the Monterey Bay region with the news you need to know. You can support Voices of Monterey Bay with your financial support here. Or you can learn how to become a valued Voices sponsor here. Voices is the only nonprofit, online and bilingual news operation on the Central Coast, and we are growing and adapting with every challenge we face. Thank you for being there for us!

 

Kathryn McKenzie
VOMB Squad Member

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Quick and Dirty Voices

In which we note local odds-and-ends worthy of attention 

 

Cops on the chopping block? 


Even as the economy is crumbling in the face of a pandemic, the questions of race relations and appropriate policing in America still manage to emerge front and center. The reaction to the killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis set off protests, demonstrations, marches and some violence in cities throughout the country. The reaction has been visceral, heartfelt and very local.

In addition to the demonstrations, there are efforts afoot around Monterey County to force cities to review police operations — and to consider serious cuts to police budgets. It appears that local police officers aren't going down without a fight. 

At a demonstration on Saturday, Seaside Councilman Jon Wizard and Monterey Councilman Tyller Williamson grabbed a mic and suggested that cities ought to realign their budgets with an eye at strengthening libraries and recreation services at the expense of police departments.

Wizard also used social media earlier this week to reiterate his point, asking citizens to call their city halls to demand that municipal officials defund police departments to pay for better library and recreational services, while "demilitarizing" police agencies and creating police oversight boards with the power to fire bad cops.

Late Thursday, the Seaside Police Officers Association issued a statement excoriating Wizard, accusing him of "suggesting a forceful takeover of city government or possible violence" and for making "reckless statements" regarding the ability of "white America" to fix the problems that ail us all. 

The Seaside officers' statement said Wizard's statements "fan the flames of the ever growing racial divide across this country. Our officers are made up of individuals of all races, creeds, and backgrounds and we enjoy serving a similarly diverse citizenry. We don’t seek to place the community in segregated racial groups working against each other. We’d like to foster an environment where we all work together towards a common goal." 

Meanwhile, expect similar dramas to unfold in Monterey and Salinas. Earlier this week, city officials in Monterey heard from citizens about what the city should do about a growing deficit in its operational budget when a coalition that calls itself Community Before Cops emerged to demand deep cuts to the police budget so that the city can employ alternative policing methods.

And a similar effort in Salinas, where community relations with its police department has lately been complicated, is still in the organizational stage. 
— Joe Livernois

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Some baffling cancellations


Meanwhile, thousands of Central Coast residents have participated in protests that have sprung up in reaction to the death of George Floyd.  Participation is likely not as high as they might have been without the pervasive fear of COVID-19. 

But a recent string of last-minute cancellations of scheduled protests have left wannabe demonstrators frustrated and in the dark. For instance, an "Enough is Enough" demonstration at Closter Park in Salinas that had been scheduled this afternoon was abruptly postponed late Thursday. One organizer blamed the cancellation on "drama with the organizing committee."

Also canceled were a string of protests scheduled in various places around the Peninsula this weekend, including Devendorf Park in Carmel, Lovers Point in Pacific Grove and Custom House Plaza in Monterey. An organizer for those scuttled demonstrations said the volunteer organizers simply couldn't get the details for so many events nailed down as quickly as they imagined.

In Santa Cruz, there had been a paddle-out protest scheduled off Pleasure Point in Santa Cruz on Thursday. But that got canceled.

So for those keeping score at home, the next Monterey Peninsula demonstration we know for sure will be in front of Monterey City Hall at noon Tuesday. That one is sponsored by Monterey County Protests, which seems to have a good organizational system in place. 

Wait ... what? We just heard a rumor that there's another Lovers Point protest scheduled sometime soon. Yikes. Anyway, check the Voices' Facebook and Twitter sites for updates. We'll post what we know.                     
— Joe Livernois
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And in other news ... Monterey has a birthday

 
So much has been happening in the world that what should have been a big event was downgraded to a passing blip on the screen. The City of Monterey celebrated its 250th anniversary quietly on June 3, commemorating the date in 1770 that Captain Gaspar de Portola and Father Junipero Serra landed and held Mass, and founded the city of Monterey. The sestercentennial celebration has not been not canceled, but merely put on hold, according to the Monterey.org website. Among the events that will be rescheduled is the unveiling of a 15-foot-long abalone sculpture at San Carlos Beach Park, a grand piece of public art created by Cara Byrd, John Mason and Lance Boen.
                                                                               
                                                                                      — Kathryn McKenzie

 
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We Recommend


If you're in Monterey and in need of sustenance, Café Lumiere on Alvarado Street is donating 100 percent of its revenue to Campaign Zero and the National Bail Fund Network. Campaign Zero is working on research-based efforts to end police brutality, while the Bail Fund uses its revenue to support organizations providing bail for people arrested during protests. Read owner Brandi Lamb's statement here.

People are reading more books these days during the pandemic, and now, they are buying anti-racism books, both for children and adults. In fact, many titles (like "White Fragility" and "How to Be An Antiracist") are outselling the latest "Hunger Games" installment and are climbing the best-seller charts, Slate reports.

Atlas Obscura, already a highly entertaining website that delves into unusual places and history around the world, kicked it up a notch this week by focusing on African Americans of the past who made a difference and how their contributions have enriched American arts and culture. 
 


The COVID-19 Chronicles

How are you coping through the coronavirus-inspired shelter-in-place order? See the entire Under the Sheltering Sky series here. Or browse through these stories:

  • And now, for your moment of Zen, please check out Buck Roggeman, the principal of a Pacific Grove elementary school who shares his mindful moments with students, parents and the rest of the world, including Aparna Sreenivasan.
  • Working the front lines of an essential service during the pandemic gave Robert Holmes a great perspective on human nature.
  • Scrabble, anyone? How about an impossible jigsaw puzzle? Jeana Jett has used the occasion of the pandemic to hone her board-game skills.
  • From inside a Central California prison, Johnny Angel Martinez writes about his day-to-day experiences, wrestling with fear and hope during the pandemic. "OK, first of all, I’m stuck in a viral tinder-box, a cruise ship indeterminately docked in a prison yard ... But what’s going on at a deeper level?”
  • Mike Hale sallied off to Spain in early February to absorb the culture and the charm of Oviedo. But after a couple of quick ventures into the countryside, the coronavirus cornered him in his apartment. The bells of a nearby church have given him a new perspective.
  • Speaking of Spain, Arlen Grossman has been holed up in Barcelona, around the corner from the Sagrada Familia, and he's not feeling it.
  • Kathy McKenzie, a Voices' editor, tells the story of her son Ross, who was working in the most remote location of the world when the coronavirus hell broke loose.
  • Claudia Meléndez Salinas knows there are changes desperately needed in society, and she's using the shelter-in-place order to plan how to tackle them all. But first, there are things she needs to take care of. Like the laundry!
  • Helene Constant rises early for her "fight against reality." It's her One Bright Thing.
  • Peter Hiller is discovering his inner gardener In The Weeds.
  • Joe Livernois ventured off to find his place in Costco's geezer line in search of steel-cut oats in the time of the pandemic
  • Monica Moreno's sixth grade students at Monte Bella Elementary in Salinas has been producing 10-minute news segments. called Monte Bella News, since last year. This week, they produced the "sheltered-in-place" edition, during which they discussed how they're adjusting to remote learning.
  • Koly McBride, the local theater impresario, explains that the new normal has given her an opportunity to reacquaint herself to family, home and neighbors.
  • Joe Livernois' essay on his new hobby as a practicing hypochondriac is labeled as "satire," but is it really?
  • Paul Karrer made the decision earlier this year to visit his friends in New Zealand, then had to get out as quickly as possible in a series of events he refers to as "lessons learned."
  • Susan Landry, a freelance writer, told us about the emotional toll she sustained after losing her restaurant job in Santa Cruz.

Voices would like to hear your story. During times like this, wellness and sanity can come with hearing and reading our common (or not so common) experiences. Sharing your thoughts can be cathartic. Send your essay, your audio message or your video to Joe Livernois at joe@vomb.org.

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Voces en español:

PS: Are you worried you may have missed something? See VOMB's Secret Newsletter Archives here. 
A Word from Voices 
This space is reserved for philanthropists, companies, individuals and others to promote their favorite non-profit agencies. For more information about sponsorship opportunities with Voices, send us an email at joe@vomb.org

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