A small group of local residents gathered at Colusa Veterans Memorial Park on Thursday for a vigil to honor the lives of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo, two young Americans recently killed by police.
Organized by the progressive political group Indivisible Colusa County, the vigil took place two days after a jury found former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter for killing George Floyd Jr. last May. Floyd’s murder galvanized a nationwide, months-long wave of protests against police brutality, including rallies in Colusa, Williams, and Arbuckle.
The deaths of Wright, a 20-year-old black man from Minnesota, and Toledo, 13-year-old Latino boy from Illinois, moved Aiyana Garcia Deniz, a Colusa resident and Indivisible Colusa leader, to organize last week’s vigil.
“Seeing horrific videos spread all around social media of young people being killed—you can’t just watch those and not get upset,” Garcia Deniz said.
Local residents brought flowers, candles, and posters with the names and images of black and Latino Americans killed by police. They talked about their anger and frustration as well as hope for change.
“There’s a lack of conversation around police brutality, especially in conservative Colusa, so any awareness we can bring to the town is great, no matter how big or small. That’s why I came out here today,” Garcia Deniz said.
Publicly calling for change can be uncomfortable, Garcia Deniz acknowledged.
“People are fearful of what other people think, especially in this small town where everyone knows everyone,” Deniz said. “People are afraid to stand up for what they believe in because they think people you went to high school with or your teachers or coaches might not agree with what you’re doing. Standing up for what you believe in can come with some negative effects.”
“We need to raise the level of awareness in our community that this is a serious problem in our society,” said Linda Masuhara, an Arbuckle resident and co-founder of Indivisible Colusa. “It’s not a black versus cop mentality. It’s not anti-police. It’s pro-civil liberties. The violation of one person’s civil liberties is the violation of all of us. It could be you, it could be your brother, it could be your son. We can’t just sit by and act like nothing’s happening.”
The national Indivisible organization has a list of anti-racism resources and recommended actions on their website. Indivisible Colusa County’s next meeting is Wednesday, May 26 at 6 PM; details are available at indivisiblecolusa.org. §