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Protesters, Activists Discuss Ongoing Protests Against Police Violence

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Massive and mostly peaceful protests against police brutality sparked by the killing of George Floyd continued across the country last night from coast to coast. We're going to hear some voices from those protests, starting in Simi Valley, Calif.

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UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) No justice, no peace. No justice, no peace.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was where four LAPD officers stood trial for the 1991 brutal beating of Rodney King. Riots then broke out in Los Angeles after three of the officers were acquitted. Ray Wright (ph) is from Simi Valley. He explained why, as a black man, he felt compelled to join the demonstrations now.

RAY WRIGHT: Oh, racism is a problem everywhere. And if you don't see it, you're just oblivious to it. That means you just don't want to see it. So we're trying to do our best to put a stand to it and try to put an end to that. And if this is our moment to try to shine a light on it and make for change, let's do it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In Akron, Ohio, activist and organizer Prophecy Dorsey spoke about the significance of the protests' rallying cry.

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PROPHECY DORSEY: I hear people say every time they hear the words black lives matter - I hear people say, all lives matter. You are absolutely right. Hold on. You absolutely right. All lives do matter. So how come black lives haven't mattered so far?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Another protester, a Kent State University student named Aleila Brown (ph), said she hopes the police are listening.

ALEILA BROWN: Like, no one's saying that all police are bad, but people want to stick up for minorities and people of color because if there is a bad cop and everyone else is just turning a blind eye to the actions that they're taking, then that means you're just as bad as them.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And in New Orleans, 75-year-old Ann Cobb (ph) said that she's been fighting against racism since the 1960s.

ANN COBB: I lived through it all. I was at the march on Washington, the riots after Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. And here we are in a whole new century, and we're doing the same thing that we were doing then. I have sons and daughters, and I worry about them every time they go out in the street.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And speaker Melanie Medina (ph) implored the crowd to educate themselves about what is happening to black people in America today.

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MELANIE MEDINA: Because if you remain blissfully ignorant, you have space in your head to think, well, you know, I'm not a slave today. Well, it's all good. I'm not getting lynched today, so it's all good. But baby, guess what? Even though we're not being lynched with rope, we're being lynched with bullets.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In Minneapolis, where George Floyd was killed on May 25, Representative Ilhan Omar spoke at a demonstration where she called for drastic changes to how we police in this country.

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ILHAN OMAR: We've all seen what happens when good people of good conscience say, let's invest in diversity training. We have also seen the calls for diversity. We have seen what happens when people say, well, how about we get a police chief that is a person of color? Well, I'm here to remind you all that all of that has failed. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.