Photography by Emma Cypressi
When outrage over the killing of George Floyd spread throughout the country, anger over the police killing of Miles Hall, a 23-year-old Black man, resurfaced in Walnut Creek, prompting multiple figures and organizations to bring back the fight that was swept aside in 2019.
On June 2, 2019, police shot Hall during a mental health crisis. One activist from Las Lomas, Moxie Marsh, organized a skate protest on National Rollout Day, a movement to end hate against racial minorities. Marsh commented, “I was motivated to organize a protest for that event [National Rollout Day] in Walnut Creek because of the current increase of pressure for Justice for Miles Hall. The second one I organized was on August 9, and was specifically planned in support of Justice for Miles Hall,”
A local organization, Bay Area Grass Roots, has organized BLM protests around the Bay Area and is a supporter of the Justice for Miles Hall movement. “The Hall family and the rest of the community protesting, 100% stand behind the Hall’s request to have [a] 24/7 non-police response to mental health crisis,” commented Bay Area Grassroots. But even though hundreds of citizens in Walnut Creek have cried out for the WCPD to take responsibility for their actions in 2019, it seems these cries have fallen on deaf ears.
However, not every person in Walnut Creek aligns with the protesters. As a representative of Bay Area Grass Roots said, “I would say a lot more racists and white supremacist Trump supporters came out… not a lot of people knew how much hate and racism lies in Walnut Creek.” According to the official City of Walnut Creek Website, there are 10,708 voters in Walnut Creek registered as Republicans, and 21,391 registered as Democrats.
When Marsh was organizing her first rollout, the Walnut Creek Bomb Squad Commander asked if she wanted to organize street closures for the day, but she declined. Marsh said, “I didn’t want to make the protest avoidable. Giving a mandatory detour makes it seem like a minor inconvenience when it’s a statement on a major injustice.” Even after declining, police cars immediately began to follow the protesters. This prevented cars she organized to assist with traffic control from joining them. Marsh even described being followed by a cop home. She explained that she was terrified because she had heard about another young protester being followed home and arrested.
Bystanders should pay attention as the situation in Walnut Creek further evolves.