Bakersfield Unity Rally held at St. Peter Restoration church calls for action

Bakersfield Unity Rally held at St. Peter Restoration church calls for action
Posted at 1:35 AM, Jun 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-12 04:35:32-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A rally to call for unity and peace took place East Bakersfield on Thursday.

Community leaders and attendees met at the St. Peter's Restoration Community church to address systemic racism within law enforcement sparked by the death of George Floyd.

The main sanctuary's pews were filled on Thursday night with hope, change, and plans of action on how to rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
The theme during the rally was "if you see something, say something".
"Open your hearts to why this is happening," said J'Nise Evans, an attendee. "Open hearts to understand the minorities and cries what they have been saying."

The two-hour meeting pulled in dozens from around the community.
The focus of the gathering is to discuss how to reform law enforcement and build unity between them and the community.

"Our goal is that we want something born out of this, maybe a committee or organization that specifically addresses and looks at this issue," said Traco Matthews, an organizer of the rally.
"Words are great but actions matter more. We want to see actions from law enforcement and elected officials and to help make this better."

Several speakers shared their experiences and ideas of potential changes following weeks of protests and walks.
City councilmember Andrae Gonzalez, representing Ward 2, was in attendance and discussed what actions the city is taking.

"Truth is there are many reform efforts already taking place by the end of this month," said Gonzales. "Every single police officer from the chief on down in uniform will be equipped with a body camera."
Throughout the event, there was music, prayer and at times moments of silence.

The group also remembered the moment that orchestrated their call to action to host the rally, the death of 46-year-old George Floyd. Floyd lost his life on May 25, following an encounter with the Minneapolis Police officer.

Already change is happening.

Two teenage sisters Channing and Dilyan Stewart share they are countering the hurt of many people by starting a movement of change called "Smile 2020".

"We are going to spread love and smiles by gifting people with smiles baskets," Channing Stewart said. "Here is how, (first) choose someone who may have lost contact with or someone who does not look like you or someone who you may want to connect with. Then send them a basket of things to make them smile. "

The organizers of the rally add they'll post their next step on their Bakersfield Unity Rally page on Facebook.