March against racism and police brutality closes out San Diego Pride weekend

Oscar Rendon, left, Adrian Ramirez, and Sebastian Dunne organized the Love & Equality, Gay Pride Protest.
Oscar Rendon, left, Adrian Ramirez, and Sebastian Dunne organized the Love & Equality, Gay Pride Protest which went from Hillcrest to Balboa Park. The rally against police brutality and racism was organized by the Family of San Diego City College - the school’s LGBTQ student organization on July 19, 2020.
(K.C. Alfred/The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The march was organized by Family at San Diego City College, an LGBTQ student group.


Students from San Diego City College led a group of about 100 people on a short march through Hillcrest on Sunday morning to close out Pride weekend with calls for justice for victims of police brutality and racist violence.

The students, part of a newly formed club called “Family,” hoped to draw attention to issues at the intersection of racism and the discrimination faced by members of the LGBTQ community.

“The LGBT community is supposed to be inclusive,” said Adrian D'mirez, one of the organizers. “We wanted to highlight the marginalized groups.”

As the Hillcrest Farmers Market bustled with socially distant morning shoppers on Sunday, the name of Breonna Taylor, a Black woman who was shot and killed by police in her home in Kentucky, rang out in chants beneath the giant rainbow flag nearby where the marchers gathered.

Several attendees, including two women with Proyecto Trans Latina, a local group that supports and empowers trans Latinas, held the light blue, pink and white flag that stands for Trans Pride. Another attendee held a sign that said, “Pride started as a riot against police brutality.”

Madonna’s “Vogue” bumped out of a large portable speaker at the front of the group.

Right around 10 a.m., the group began to move, taking to the street behind a couple of police on motorcycles.

In addition to Taylor’s name, marchers called for justice for Alexa Luciano, a trans woman who was killed in Puerto Rico in February; Marilyn Cazares, a Latina trans woman whose body was found in Brawley, California a few days ago; Vanessa Guillen, a Latina Army soldier whose disappearance and killing prompted calls across the country for investigations; Bree Black, a Black trans woman who was fatally shot in Florida at the beginning of July; and Monika Diamond, a Black trans woman who was shot and killed in North Carolina in March.

The march, an abbreviated version of organizers’ original plan because of heat concerns, took just over half an hour to move west on University Ave and south on Sixth Ave before arriving in the shade of a large tree in Balboa Park.

There, organizers took turns talking about the violence and discrimination that happens to Black and Latinx members of the LGBTQ community.

Danny Avitia talked about his experiences as a gay Latino man, including the deportations of several family members.

“I didn’t like myself for a long time,” he told the crowd.

He encouraged marchers to vote in November and to get their family members and friends to vote as well. He talked about a collective responsibility to leave the world in a better place for future generations.

“Right now, we’re in the process of changing our entire society,” Avitia said. “As we come together — as the community comes together — we must completely face the atrocities that happen every day in our society.”

Oscar Rendon told the story of his mother being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement when he was a teenager. He said that ICE is another law enforcement agency that should be scrutinized for human rights abuses, abolished and reimagined.

“Many of our social justice problems are overlapping,” Rendon said.

He encouraged members of the crowd to find common ground in the pain and struggles of different marginalized groups.

As the speeches wound down, attendees wandered over to a table set up by Shawni McCray of Creative Designsz of shirts and cloth masks with messages of black lives matter and celebrating Pride. McCray said she prints and gives away shirts for protest organizers around the county and the proceeds from selling her designs pay for those donations.

Caroline Morningglory said she was happy with how the march went. She had been worried about the possibility of police violence, as law enforcement officers across the country have used force — from shoving and kettling to “less lethal” bullets and tear gas — to try to break up protests since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd in May.

Despite her concerns, Morningglory felt it was important to be present on Sunday.

“For me as a trans woman, we have to protect our rights,” she said.

For Cassandra Tomsha of Normal Heights and Melissa Dohner of North Park, whose daughters go to school together, Sunday’s march was the latest in a series of protests they have attended together.

“It’s important to keep the momentum up,” Dohner said.

“And not forget,” Tomsha added.

Tomsha said she was proud of the student organizers who led the march.

“It takes a lot of tenacity and courage and organization,” Tomsha said.

For D'mirez, one of the messages that he wanted most to share was the importance of getting educated.

He and his partner moved to San Diego from El Paso and eventually made the decision to go back to school. To do so, they had to live out of their car for about a year because they couldn’t work as much as they had been.

“It started out rough, but now it’s all worth it,” D'mirez said. “If I can do it, you can do it.”