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MARCHING ON

Manteca High graduate organizing another peaceful march for July 15

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MARCHING ON

Black Lives Matter marchers make their way over the Main Street overcrossing on July 17, 2016. More than 40 silent protestors gathered at Woodward Park and ended their peaceful march at Library Park.

HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photos/


POSTED July 7, 2017 9:45 p.m.

When Sharon Washington set out to organize an event in the spirit of Black Lives Matter in Manteca, she didn’t quite know what to expect.
For one, the group — which aims to shine a light on the perceived injustices within the criminal justice system for minorities and people and color — has become a flashpoint in current American politics, and Manteca’s family-focused approach made it different than liberal Bay Area communities that typically host such functions.
But in the year since she first organized a march from Woodward to Library Parks — a silent protest where small clusters of people marched together to send a message about inequality — Washington said that the group and its core base of support has grown here within Manteca, and that people now realize that it’s possible to send a message that denounces violence without coming off as antagonistic towards law enforcement.
“This is definitely not something that’s anti-police,” said Washington, who is organizing another march next Saturday, July 15. “We say that this is Black Lives Matter because as a black woman that is something that I can identify with and understand, but this is also something that’s for people whose lives have been touched by violence in any way, shape, or form.
“And it doesn’t matter who is committing the violence — all lives do matter, and we want everybody to feel like they’re included.”
In order to comply with existing city laws governing public demonstrations, Washington and her fellow organizers – who will set out from Woodward Park on July 15 at 5:30 p.m. to walk to Library Park in Downtown Manteca – have decided to adopt a silent protest platform and march people in small groups rather than one large one.
Last year, Washington reached out to the Manteca Police Department to notify them of her plans and to get their guidance on how best to conduct such an event with minimal impact on traffic and the community as whole — agreeing to remain on sidewalks and not block traffic, which was a concern of some residents when the group announced its intentions.
In the coming week, Washington said, she’ll do the same thing again to establish a contact within the department that she can notify in case any issues arise.
Short of a few comments and hand gestures from passing motorists, Washington said, the march last year generated almost no controversy.
“We thought that we were going to have 40 people or so but by the time we got to Library Park we had well over 100 people,” she said. “And we’ve developed a pretty strong following on social media here in the community of local people who want to get involved.
“I didn’t know how Manteca was going to respond when I set out to do this, but I think people know me from sports and know that this isn’t about creating controversy, but starting a dialogue. And we plan on sticking with that approach.”
For more information about the Black Lives Matter movement in Manteca, or how to get involved with Washington’s new organization, search for her name or the group Black Lives Matter Manteca on Facebook, or email sharon.washington14@yahoo.com.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email jcampbell@mantecabulletin.com or call 209.249.3544.

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