Above and below: All Black Lives Matter demonstrators gather on Hollywood Boulevard on Sunday to protest police brutality. (JUN NAGATA/Rafu Shimpo)

By TOMOKO NAGAI, Rafu Staff Writer

Thousands of protesters filled the streets in Hollywood on Sunday for an anti-racism solidarity march.

West Hollywood had been set to host the annual LA Pride Parade before it was cancelled due to COVID-19.

A diverse group of protesters, most wearing masks, carried signs in support of Black Lives Matter. The march was organized by All Black Lives Matter, and as of 12:30 p.m. Sunday, the crowd had swelled on Hollywood Boulevard. The popular tourist thoroughfare was closed to vehicle traffic from Highland Avenue to La Brea Avenue.

Among the protesters was Andrea Parker, a white teacher for second-grade students at a Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school in North Hills, San Fernando Valley. She conveyed her feelings: “I’m motivated by my Black students, I want to make sure that they always feel that they are important and valued. I will always advocate for them.”

She carried a placard that read, “You cannot teach Black children and be silent about injustice against them.”

This year, Parker is responsible for 24 students, four of them African American. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school has switched to home learning via computer, but the school is in a low-income area where there are many households without online access, and this too has impacted Black students. For an educator like Parker, this is one more area in which she is seeking justice.

“They have had a difficult time keeping up through the COVID shutdown,” she explained.

“It’s a systemic problem that we see here in the United States. This racism is nothing new, it’s like what they did to Japanese during World War II,” said Fernando Pernando, a Filipino American. “We need to change people’s minds regarding this racism. No one has the right to kill any human being. We need to love one another,” he emphasized.

Carrying a banner with him was Omar Pie of Long Beach, who described himself as a “working-class person of color” and a “socialist.”

“We have a strong feeling that people of all colors unite and recognize that white supremacy is doing their best to divide people of color, especially in the workforce,” Pie said.

“I see you, I hear you, I stand with you.” Darius and Diana are members of the LGBTQ community. Darius, who is both a hair stylist and a chef, stood out wearing rainbow-colored angel wings. Diana works in advertising. When asked for their reason for participating in the protest/parade, they said in one voice, “Because it’s necessary.”

Regarding racial discrimination and all forms of discrimination, Diana said, “This movement is long overdue,” and Darius emphasized, “Seventy years? Eighty years? Longer than that. Until Black people can walk the streets with the same comfort as white people then we won’t stop fighting.”

They added that education is the key — it is necessary to teach children how to behave correctly.

Pauline Ly carries a sign saying “All Black Lives Matter.” (TOMOKO NAGAI/Rafu Shimpo)

“There is a lot of injustice, we just want liberty for all, one nation under God, indivisible. So we should act like a nation that there is only one race — the human race,” said Pauline Ly, 32, a Chinese American. Noting that this was her second protest, she looked around and noted that there were few Asians participating in the demonstration.

“Our parents taught us to stay out of trouble but there comes a time when you have to stand up for just more than yourself. That’s what we’re here for,” Ly said.

Through the people that I encountered, I had a strong feeling that the demonstrations happening in the U.S. are part of a movement to change society for the next generation of children.

Participating in memory of George Floyd, four-year-old Leonardo, part of a racially mixed family, marched straight ahead, holding his placard toward the sky.

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