When Minnie Cotton Diallo watched the video of George Floyd dying while handcuffed face-down on a Minneapolis street, the emotions came fast and they came furious.
She was hurt, angry, saddened, and left wondering what she could possibly do to make sure that she could unite the community that she loves – Lathrop – to take a stand against brutal injustices and bring everyone, including the law enforcement officers that are sworn to protect those citizens, together.
But in the wake of violent protests that have broken out across the country and with scenes of looting and clashes with police filling up the nightly airwaves for more than a week, Cotton Diallo – who serves on the city’s parks and recreation commission – ran into some hesitation when it came to organizing an in-person event in the city.
So, she did the next best thing – rallying community leaders to record statements and edited them together as a sort of protest video that is unique to the community of Lathrop.
And she didn’t mince words when it came to talking about the incident that sparked the project or why she took the digital route.
“The only way I knew about getting anything like this off the ground was to go to the people who are in charge – so I did,” Cotton Diallo said. “I did not get the response I was looking for.
“These are people that I looked up to – they are colleagues of mine that I work with hand-in-hand on trying to bring change within our city – and some of the pushback that I got back was about the liability and the looting and the rioting and it was like I wasn’t even talking about the damage that has been done by this video and how important it is to bring our community together.”
The video, which runs for just over 12 minutes, has been circulating on Facebook since it was released this past weekend and includes statements from a number of local officials and residents who stand in solidarity with the growing movement towards accountability and against historic injustices faced by the black community.
Robert Gleason, a past board member at the Lathrop Manteca Fire District, made an impassioned plea for people to unite and to comfort those who were affected by the video – which shows the officer kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for almost 9 minutes while he pleads for his life.
“As you know, our country is in the midst of an awakening – many have come together to shout, ‘enough is enough – how can we improve and how can we change our behavior?’” Gleason said. “When one member of our community hurts, we all should hurt – we should leave the flock of 99 and assist the one. If we harbor any animosity, racism, or prejudice, I urge you to repent.
“Change your heart. Get to know your neighbor. Reach out the hand of fellowship – let the death of George Floyd not be in vain – let it be the event that changes our world for the better.”
Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann, who has led security teams that have been deployed to various locations throughout the county since civil unrest started to break out, appears on the video – as does Lathrop Councilman and California State Assembly candidate Paul Akinjo, Lathrop developer Susan Dell’Osso, Lathrop Councilwoman Jennifer Torres-O’Callaghan, and Cotton Diallo’s daughter Aicha who sings the song “America” and declares that Lathrop is the “best city in the world.”
“We at Lathrop Police Services and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office support everyone’s right to speak freely and to demonstrate peacefully,” Biedermann said. “We know these are challenging times for everyone and we want you to know that we’re here to help and work together – now more than ever it is important to build strong relationships between law enforcement and the community we serve.
“We want you to know that we continue to listen to your concerns, and we will continue to work hard at keeping the community safe and hold ourselves to the highest standard and take a stance against injustice. We are here for you.”
To view the video, search for Minnie Jordan on YouTube and click on the video titled “virtual demonstration.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.