Local Black Lives Matter demonstrations continue in Eisenhower Park

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Black Lives Matter activists demonstrate peacefully in Eisenhower Park in protest against racism, police brutality and injustice. After the demonstration, at least one demonstrator and one police officer were seen exchanging friendly waves. Photo by Charles M. Kelly

Local Black Lives Matter activists held a brief, quiet demonstration in Eisenhower Park Saturday afternoon, July 4. The demonstrations are now taking place daily, at noon, in Eisenhower Park, according to organizer Marisa Hayes, a Main Street merchant and Seal Beach resident. The demonstrations were previously held on the Green Belt, next to the Red Car Museum.

When asked about a hostile response to the demonstration that apparently took place on Friday, July 3, Hayes said there was also a positive response. One sign Hayes held up said, “Not enough sage in the world for racism.” The words were punctuated not with a period, but with a small picture of Earth.

Another sign she held up said, “Racism is so American that when you protest it, people think you are protesting America.”

A man held up a sign that said, “Black Lives Mater; Anti-racist (heart symbol) Anti-Fascist pro-democracy All Humans Are Created :Equal: American AF!”

On Saturday, the small group spoke among themselves—so quietly that even with hearing aids on a reporter couldn’t hear what was being said. (City officials had closed the beaches and the Seal Beach Pier for the Fourth of July.)

Just as the demonstration was breaking up, the Community Oriented Policing team pulled up in a police vehicle. At least one demonstrator and at least one police officer exchanged friendly waves.

A recent Instagram post from Ebb Persephone, Hayes’ Main Street shop, invited the Seal Beach Police Department to participate in kneeling at the demonstration.

In an email to addressed to Hayes, a copy of which was provided to the Sun by the SBPD, Chief Phil Gonshak wrote in part that “While we understand the symbolism of taking a knee as a show of solidarity, we also recognize that some may view this as a signal of the participation in political statements, which we must remain neutral in and/or on.  With that, we publicly stand against racism and we support peaceful protests, all the while inviting transparent/respectful dialogue.”

While Gonshak declined the invitation to kneel, he offered to leave the door open for continued discussions.

The BLM demonstrators have been kneeling daily to mark the 8 minutes 46 seconds a now-former police officer spent kneeling on the neck of George Floyd, a Black man who died while being arrested in Minneapolis, Minnesota in late March.

On June 26, a Black Lives Matter sign was stolen from above the doorway of Hayes shop, Ebb Persephone. The Community Oriented Policing Team officers took a report, according to Sgt. Nick Nicholas, the department’s public information officer.

On Saturday, Fourth of July, Hayes said she has ordered another sign for her store. A painting of a clenched fist and the words “Black Lives Matter” now appears on the story window.

Meanwhile, Black Lives Matters signs can now be seen in the windows of at least two other Seal Beach shops—Main Street Cyclery and Temecula Olive Oil Company.