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Black Lives Matter Protests in Huntington Beach Through the Eyes of a Local Photographer

Huntington Beach has been the site of many protests over the years. Surf City-based professional photographer Mandy Rosen has attended and covered many-a-protests. Here she shares her stunning photographs and personal insights on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Protesters holding hands up, woman with orange hair, wearing masks

Since the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests have been consistently attracting large crowds. The protests have continued for 4 months.

People of color do not feel heard in Huntington Beach. The most recent BLM protest attracted a larger crowd than usual. Residents and non-residents joined together to protest the bigotry problem that many believe to be the reputation of Huntington Beach. During the protest on September 6th, the protesters marched through Main Street unplanned. 

I knew that, marching through Main Street on a Sunday Labor Day weekend with Trump supporters eating brunch, sounded like a crazy idea. It wasn’t so bad, despite many confrontational moments. Many anti-protesters argued that the protest was “disrupting businesses.” This was the only protest that took place through Main Street unplanned, and it was over in about 20 minutes. 

Black Lives Matter protester from behind, sign on back if they start shooting stand behind me Photo by Mandy Rosen

After attending almost 10 protests in Huntington Beach, anti-protesters still say that BLM shouldn’t exist at all because of “all the looting.” The protesters respond with the fact that not a single business was looted, destroyed, nor graffitied in Huntington Beach. In fact, 93% of the BLM protests in this country have been peaceful. This photo was taken at the 2nd BLM protest in Huntington Beach.

After taking the photo, I realized the sign on his back was attached to a bullet proof vest. I never saw the front of his face, but from the back he reminded me of Clint Eastwood in the movie Gran Torino. At the end, Eastwood’s character gave his life in order to protect a group of young kids who were being harassed by a gang of racists. 

Woman in hat holding Black Lives Matter sign in front of Huntington Surf and Sport

I find it very interesting that massive protests occurred to reopen businesses in Huntington Beach when COVID-19 first struck. Yet, when the first BLM protest occurred in Huntington Beach, the majority of residents protested the protest. It was happening all over the place when I first stepped out of the Uber and made my way downtown. I was taken aback, since I have never seen that behavior in Huntington Beach, and I grew up here. I had come to the protest with the intention of taking pictures, and it didn’t occur to me to film videos until I saw how intense the confrontations were.  

Young man on HB Pier with skateboard holing a sign No More Names

Anti-protesters claim that the Black Lives Matter movement aims to completely defund the police. In my experience, almost nobody on the BLM side ever argued to defund the police entirely. Instead, BLM wants to defund the police somewhat, in order to place more money towards communities, education, and the homeless. 

Two blonde women wearing red holding Defend the Police signs, anti-protesters, anti-BLM

At the 2nd protest in Huntington Beach, there was a large turnout on the BLM side and also on the anti-protest side. A long row of cops were standing in between the two groups throughout the day. This photo was taken on the anti-protest side after they had been chanting “all lives matter.” 

Two men hug it out at protest rally

This photo was taken at the most recent protest in Huntington Beach. It was September 6th on a Sunday on  Labor Day weekend. The beaches were packed and hardly any anti-protesters were wearing masks. This photo was taken while marching up and down the pier. The protesters marched down the pier before marching through Main Street. The protesters used mega phones and chanted slogans towards the beach goers below. 

Blue haired girl, wearing a mask holding All Black Lives Matter sign

Many anti-protesters claim that the BLM movement argues for only black lives. I have attended many protests in Southern California and I have never seen a sign, or heard anybody say, that “only black lives matter.” I believe there is a misunderstanding with anti-protesters who believe that the BLM movement is propagating superiority and discrimination against all races.

Father holding up son

“We’re out here, fighting for you. So that you don’t have to.” These words were voiced through a megaphone by one of the protest speakers, directed at the young child in this photo. This picture was taken after the crowd addressed the young child. I love witnessing positive and powerful moments like that during protests. 

Man Holding Megaphone with his eyes closed

The most recent protest was organized by Zodiac, as seen in this photo.  Zodiac is one of the bravest people I have met at the protests. He will burn sage behind the backs of hecklers, dance with pride in the faces of homophobic racists, and lead the protest group with inspiring strength.

Man kneeling on the Huntington Beach Pier with his fist held up

This picture was taken while the protestors were taking a knee in honor of black lives. The man with his first in the air had been leading the march up and down the pier with a megaphone. The group was formed in a circle at the time. You could feel the solidarity.

*END*

* All text and photos by Mandy Rosen

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