Black Lives Matter Protests in Palo Alto: Students protest police brutality and systematic racism after the death of George Floyd

Bay Area students kneel on highway 101 as they chant “Black Lives Matter” on May 31st.

The horrific murder of George Floyd has set the world to fight against systemic racism, most notably police brutality. Protests started in Minneapolis on May 26, a day after the murder and have since spread to all 50 states.

The Bay Area alone has had multiple protests in Oakland, San Jose and San Francisco. Santa Clara County even issued a curfew that has since been lifted, from 8:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Palo Alto has since had 2 major protests, one on May 31 and one on June 6. Both marched from City Hall, along El Camino, to Oregan then back to City Hall. 

Anthro was there on May 31 to get quotes from some of the protesters. 

Protesters walk down El Camino on May 31st

The protests in Palo Alto seemed to be organized by youth, with many of the attendees being from Palo Alto High School and Gunn High School. Katarina Hannidy, a Gunn junior, was one of the students who led the protesters to kneel at the intersection for 9 minutes of silence, in honor of George Floyd.

“I saw [the protest] on social media and saw that no one was here to lead it. I kind of took that position,”  Hannidy told Anthro.

“It’s a group effort. Having one leader is contradicting this whole movement. I think everyone here is a leader.” 

Although under one movement, students had various reasons to march. 

Monica Stubbs, a Paly junior, marched to fight inequality. 

“I’m an African American but, before that I am a human. And we should all … stick together! This is 2020, we should not have racism still. We will not get justice until everyone is not … racist, and until the police officers are locked up.” Stubbs says.

Tanya Guzman, another Paly junior, felt inspired by previous social movements, and marched in solidarity.

“I did a lot of research on the Chicano movement from the 1960s and 70s and the only reason why the movement moved forward, was because the Black community helped a lot which made me realize that change is not really going to happen unless it is everyone.” Guzman says.

 Paly Student holds a black lives matter sign over Highway 101 on May 31st. Photo by Michaela Seah

Emily Osagiede, who graduated from Paly in 2012, felt inspired by the protests. 

“I saw the kids and I was like, let’s go! I’m so happy that the movement is getting to the suburbs. It’s gotta get to the kids, it’s gotta get to the rich kids.” Osagiede told Anthro.

When asked why she decided to join the protests, Osagiede revealed how inequality affects her family. 

Protesters kneel in honor of George Floyd at City Hall on May 31. Photo by Michaela Seah

“I’m from the slums … They pulled over my brother, my other brother, my mom, my dad, I’m tired of it I’m done. They know my name. If they stopped me right now, they would know who my parents are and they would know who I am. They pulled over my sister and they sent her to jail, I am tired of them,” Osagiede says.

Osagiede continued in an empowering speech to the protesters at City Hall, finishing with a statement of solidarity and inspiration for youth.

“You chose to be an officer. We did not choose to come to this country, we did not choose to be treated this way.” 

“You guys are lifting me up, you are lifting minorities up. You are not done after today. You keep going … There are different levels of privilege in this country, and you all got it, and you know it. Your parents didn’t know it but you know it and you are using it to your advantage. Finally, we are not being separated! I love you all and I am so proud of you all.”