On the evening of May 2, a group of around 40 UC Santa Barbara students led a march from Storke Tower to Sea Lookout Park to honor victims of police brutality.
The march was organized by fourth-year sociology and linguistics double major Lillian Cheeks and fourth-year sociology major Kaela Bowens.
Cheeks said that the march had been planned over the past few weeks and was a result of emotions she and Bowens had been feeling over the lives lost to police brutality, as well as the recent conviction of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.
“It took complete unrest within the country and almost 365 days to confirm something we already knew to be true because we had seen it with our own eyes over and over and over again,” Cheeks said. “We’d reached a point … past anger, and we wanted to do something that would be more fulfilling and actually incite change.”
The students began the march with an open discussion at Storke Tower about racism and policing within Isla Vista, according to Cheeks, including the topic of allyship.
“[One student] mentioned there should be more white activists elevating black voices by showing up to town hall meetings and speaking up because they are much more likely to be listened to and taken seriously,” Cheeks said in a message to the Nexus.
The discussion also focused on issues students had with law enforcement in Isla Vista (I.V.), according to Cheeks.
“Overpolicing is 100% a problem in I.V … there has been little to no action taken to prevent Covid (including cops not even wearing their masks) and yet the police are still overpolicing Black folks,” she said in a message to the Nexus.
The group then walked to Sea Lookout Park and held a candlelight vigil to honor and remember victims of police brutality.
Cheeks said she and Bowens had publicized the march through social media and flyers posted around I.V. since last Thursday, noting that the turnout was lower than the protests from May 2020 that had occurred following the murder of George Floyd.
“Activism is a lifelong thing. We were really trying to hone in on that [with this protest],” Cheeks said. “This is something that we’ll be fighting for and dealing with for the rest of our lives, and will continue to advocate for, even when it’s not a trend.”
Cheeks stressed the importance of continually recognizing and speaking out against police brutality and said that to create change, long-term action is needed.
“Be cognizant of the difference between justice and accountability. Don’t be quick to celebrate and claim that justice has been served just because one cop has been convicted, and recognize the lives lost to police brutality that didn’t have big headlines and weren’t publicized,” she said.