Demonstrations that drew hundreds of people to downtown Bakersfield more than two weeks ago in the wake of George Floyd's death have largely died down but a small crowd of devoted demonstrators continues to gather daily.
"We will be out there tonight. We’re moving throughout the city. We need to raise awareness. We need to bring about a change," said Michele Holiwell, who's been protesting every night since June 5. "The way things are going, we’re on a road to nowhere if we don’t make a change."
Holiwell and Reginald Gardner II, both African-American residents of Bakersfield, are attempting to establish an official Black Lives Matter chapter locally. Gardener said the more recent demonstrations haven't attracted media coverage because there's been no conflict or arrests.
Bakersfield police confirmed there have been several protests and rallies in the past week. Sgt. Nathan McCauley said they took place at the Park at Riverwalk, at 1415 Truxtun Avenue and at the intersections of Panama Lane and Wible Road, Ming Avenue and Wible Road and Brundage Lane and Chester Avenue. Tuesday's protest was scheduled to happen at Union Avenue and Brundage Lane, Holiwell said.
No arrests have been made related to any of the recent protests, McCauley said.
The local protests began May 29 when about 200 hundred people showed up in front of the downtown police station. There didn't appear to be any single group organizing the demonstration. Ten arrests were made the first night, including that of 31-year-old Michael Tran, who was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after he allegedly struck a protester with his vehicle intentionally.
The second night no arrests were made and the third night nine arrests were made including several for assault with a deadly weapon after some protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers.
Several prayer vigils were held and a sit-in was organized at Mill Creek Park in the first week of demonstrations. On the sixth night of protests, Robert Forbes, a demonstrator, was struck by a vehicle after protesting in the roadway on California Avenue and died several day later from his injuries. While the Bakersfield Police Department initially cleared the driver of intentionally striking Forbes police later reversed course and said the investigation remained open.
Also open is a sheriff's department investigation into a fire set to a vehicle belonging to an African-American protester, which was also marked with racial slurs. Bakersfield police are also seeking a suspects, believed to be a protester, who defaced the fallen officer memorial in front of the downtown station.