Alyana, killed in botched police shooting.
There’s something haunting about this sidewalk’s chalk portraits as they fade. Coronado student artists drew remarkable pictures on the concrete around the beachfront memorial for George Floyd, not far from the Hotel Del Coronado: the faces of African-Americans shot by police over the years.
“Say their names!” says the chalk sign beside them on the sidewalk. And the names are right here. Brionna Taylor, Sandra Bland. Tamir Rice. George Floyd. Philando Castile. People passing by talk quietly, as if they were in a church. They can’t avoid scuffing the faces that look up from the pavement. But nobody’s doing it out of disrespect.
Maria and Carlos
Carlos, who stops on his walk with his friend Maria, doesn’t get it. “In our generation race just isn’t an issue,” he says. They stop to look at the faces. “She was 7 years old,” says the sign beside a chalk portrait of Aiyana Jones, who was killed 9 years ago in a police raid gone wrong in Detroit, which resulted in no convictions.
A group of four friends pauses. Aaron, Jonathan, Michael, Diego Orozco, all around 20.
“I think police have too much power and authority,” says Diego. “In other countries you have to go through multiple trainings. You have to train for years to become a cop. I think our cops should go through more training.”
“Black Lives Matter,” says the chalk art beneath their feet.
“We have family members who are also African-American,” says Michael. “There’s no barrier between races in our family.”
“People have different attitudes depending on where they grew up,” says Jonathan. “Like, my dad’s from Pennsylvania and my mom’s from Mexico. My dad’s family are white. At first they would not accept my mom completely. They didn’t know any better. But over time, they started accepting her. We should just accept each other. That’s what makes us better as humans, because right now, we’re hurting. A lot of people are mad. They’re mad because they’re like, ‘Why is this still happening? It has been so many years since slavery ended. Why is it still happening?’”
Aaron, Jonathan, Michael, Diego Orozco
“I have an uncle who is actually a cop, a sheriff,” says Diego. “He believes that cops do get [trained] way too quickly. And there’s not enough checks on wannabe cops. Like there definitely are people out there who are racist and who do abuse their authority when encountering an African-American. I don’t know how this is going to come out with the country. Either it’s going to change, or it’s going to go worse than it already is. Right now, you have to choose a side. It’s not the time to be in the middle.”
“I don’t know if I want to be a cop any more,” says Jonathan. He is studying criminal justice at Southwestern College with a view to joining the thin blue line. “I mean, if all this is happening, and with police brutality, I don’t want to be put into that group. I think there may be an attitude within the cop world that may be hard to change. I don’t know if I want to be put into that situation every day, like having to use extra aggression. A lot of people are dropping out. I don’t know if it’s the coronavirus, but they’re dropping out.”