• Anna Mowris

Truckee/Tahoe Peaceful 'Say Their Names' Vigil

As the world’s outraged in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and ongoing systematic injustice continues, the little town of Truckee CA held a peaceful vigil in remembrance of the lives lost at the hands of police brutality. Hundreds of Truckee/Tahoe locals showed up in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. While Truckee may be a small town, the vigil showed just how united it truly is. Fists were raised and signs were held high bearing the names of Black individuals who’ve been killed by police, while those who were older and more at risk of contracting COVID-19 blared their car horns in solidarity during the hour-long Say Their Names Vigil.

The event was organized by a group of Truckee citizens, in accordance with local law enforcement. Individuals, including myself, began gathering downtown at 5 p.m., and soon the vigil, which was held in response to the recent killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, stretched roughly a few miles.

The town of Truckee, a predominantly white area, showed its awareness of the privilege the majority of its residents possess. One resident saying, "We can't dismiss that, there is a lot of privilege," said Courtney Henderson. "We need to stand with brown and black people and brown and black communities. If we don't we're complicit."

The only moment of hostility, though brief, was when a passerby yelled "All Lives Matter," an obvious comment many see as degrading to the Black Lives Matter movement and was met with cries of disgust and anger. One of the vigil’s organizers said, “A big part of our strategy was to hold a vigil, not a protest,” said Janet Atkinson. “We had to keep this subdued and I think it’s very powerful. People are showing what they feel with their presence. We showed up. It doesn’t always have to be yelling.”

Invites to the protest were extended towards Truckee Police, Town Council, and the mayor, marking a stark contrast to the violence being seen in cities across the country, including the nearby city of Reno - just a half an hour drive away - where rioters broke into city hall and destroyed the streets.

Among the hundreds of adults lining Donner Pass Road, there were also many families with small children. One family saying, they'll one day tell they're young daughter about this historic day in Truckee, and this critical moment in our country. “Just show her that, as a family, we try to do the right thing, for all people," said Ryan Salm, a Truckee resident standing with his daughter. "And for our community and those who need us.”

When I - pictured above - first arrived at the protest a wave of emotions flooded me. I became teary-eyed as I walked down the street surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people who wanted to show out for every Black individual who had ever been subject to racism at the hands of police officers or the public. After gathering at around 5 p.m., the entire group took a knee at 5:30 p.m., a moment of silent solidarity that lasted eight minutes and forty-six seconds exactly. Meant to represent the amount of time officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck. "I think it was an intense moment for a lot of people," said Courtney Henderson. Eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Whilst kneeling I realized not only how long this amount of time felt, but began to realize the weight this act of solidarity had on our little town. Tahoe is an extremely small and sheltered place, with a very small amount of minorities and this silent and peaceful protest spoke volumes about how important it is to show out. Black Lives Matter. Not just right now due to the influx of media, but always. The injustices that Black individuals face every day in our country needs to change. “I feel like we need a change in our world,” said Lindsay Kaufmann, west shore resident. “This is peaceful...we hurt ourselves when we hurt one another. When one suffers we all suffer. This protest, you’re speaking your truth, you’re speaking your mind, but you’re doing it at a healthy conscious level.”

A few questions we should ask ourselves is what kind of world do we want to return to once the protests are over and the world goes back to ‘normal’? Are we going to go back to the same discriminatory society that has plagued Black individuals for decades? Or will we take this opportunity to build a more accepting and anti-racist society? Our daily financial decisions can either help to transform our country or preserve the status quo. The way that we spend and invest has a massive impact on the future of our people and the way that they are treated. As an investor, you have the agency to choose firms that are concerned with diversity and inclusion, companies that raise the bar through their ethical commitments and standards, caring for every person no matter the color of their skin.

Let’s transform our economy into one that aids in the health and wellbeing of every individual without discrimination of any kind. Our active support will yield benefits for years to come.

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