Hundreds march, rally through California Borough in peaceful protest


Jeff Helsel

Hundreds march past the Booker Towers at California University of Pennsylvania in a “peaceful protest against police brutality” on June 7, 2020.

Cal Times

Nearly 200 participants peacefully marched through the streets of California Borough on Sunday, June 7,  calling for justice and equality for people of color following the deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of police.

A Facebook group, “CAL, PA: Justice for George Floyd,” described the event as a protest “against the injustices lodged against not just the late murdered George Floyd (in Minneapolis), but for every person of color who has been treated unjustly in this country.”

Protest organizers stressed this was a peaceful event and urged participants to wear masks to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus. The majority of the crowd appeared to follow that guidance.

Hundreds of people – including Cal U students, faculty, staff, community members – gathered in front of the Natali Student Center on campus for the start of the protest at 2 p.m. and proceeded along Third Street for a silent sit-in at the intersection of Third and Wood Street, and concluded with a gathering for participants to speak in the parking lot at the California Borough Building.

California Borough and University Police were on scene to assist with directing vehicle traffic around the marchers and, in a statement from the Mayor’s office, “to ensure the safety of our residents, commuters, business owners, first responders and peaceful protestors.”

Organizers included Shayna Tinsley of Hiller, Pa.,  Jayda Jones of Brownsville, Pa., Jeromy Mackey, a Cal U student leader, and Sarah Martik, a Cal U alumnae.

Several representatives from Cal U were invited to speak during the event:  Pete Ware, campus minister, Sheleta Camarda-Webb, director of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Education,  Christine Kindl, vice president for Communications and Marketing, Cynthia Obiekezie, a May 2020 graduate, and Rashad Craig, a Cal U alumnus.

Consoled by her mother, Rae Neille Forrest of Brownsville broke down in tears during the silent protest at the intersection of Third and Wood Street. The 40-year-old woman said she has children who are black and children who are biracial, and her biracial children have faced more prejudice than she ever experienced. (Jeff Helsel)
Hundreds gather in front of the Natali Student Center at the start of the “Justice for George Floyd” peaceful protest on June 7, 2020. (Jeff Helsel)
Holding the megaphone and leading the protestors is Jayda Jones,  a student at Fordham College in New York and a resident of Brownsville, Pa. (Jeff Helsel)
3-year old Rory Fike, daughter of Cal U alumnus Don Fike, joins the peaceful protest (Jeff Helsel)
Leading the march on Wood Street is Shanya Tinsley of Hiller, Pa. (Jeff Helsel)
The group marched from the Cal U campus to the intersection of Third and Wood streets in downtown California, where police blocked traffic as they sat in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds, which is how long a Minneapolis police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck on Memorial Day, 2020. (Jeff Helsel)
Cynthia Obiekezie, a May 2020 graduate of Cal U, addresses the crowd gathered in front of the California Borough Building. (Jeff Helsel)
A demonstrator outside the California Borough Building displays “Justice for Breonna” in memory of Breonna Taylor, an emergency medical technician from Louisville, Kentucky, who was killed by police after they entered her home on a drug warrant in March, 2020. (Jeff Helsel)


View the photo gallery of the peaceful protest on our Student Association Flickr site: