On Tuesday, June 2, hundreds of demonstrators — peaceful, cheering, singing, chanting, mostly young, mostly female — lined Main Street in Fort Bragg, joining in nationwide “Lockdown Tuesday” protests calling for racial justice and police accountability in America.
They got steady support-by-honk from passing motorists, with just a few “all lives matter”-style complainers throwing in their two cents as well.
Fort Bragg's police department and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies were on hand as well, mingling more than policing. Fort Bragg's city manager and a majority of the Fort Bragg City Council were there too, with council member and media maven Lindy Peters interviewing attendees for broadcast on the city's Facebook page.
By dusk on Tuesday, the block between Town Hall and the Guest House Museum was quiet again. But on Thursday, the block came alive again. This time, forensic-style outlines of bodies commemorating people of color killed by police in the US in recent years filled a good 30 yards of sidewalk.
Demonstrators knelt for eight minutes and 46 seconds to commemorate George Floyd, whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers triggered the ongoing national outcry and days and nights of sometimes violent protests.
"We were all a witness to murder," wrote Ui Wesley of Fort Bragg. "Today, my brothers and sisters had allies from our community show up to kneel with us in solidarity. Our City of Fort Bragg elected officials and police Chief came out to show their support. Hundreds of residents and visitors drove by to honk, waive and cheer us on. We could all feel the LOVE."
On Thursday right after the protest, Wesley said events will continue on Main Street in Fort Bragg, maybe not every day, but building to the Juneteenth (June 14) national day of protest.
"We're here to show our tears," Wesley said. "We're here to show the snot running down our faces," Wesley said to a small clutch of local journalists, as she wept.
On her Facebook page later, Wesley credited the many local people who brought a wide array of skills to create the Fort Bragg event.
"Not all communities are lucky enough to have people who have the ability to do the above," she wrote, "or have the experience needed to have a legal, safe and impactful demonstration or protest. These processes aren’t easy. It doesn’t feel just. People get frustrated and violence occurs. We are seeing that all around the world. Before you criticize and judge some of the actions you are seeing (i.e., riots, looting), ask yourself if you would be willing to put in the work for change?"
The other lively events in Fort Bragg this week were the high school graduations — Noyo Alternative High School on Wednesday and Fort Bragg High School on Friday.
Both were movable feasts — grads and their families in cars and pickups, touring town to the cheers of residents gathered in their front yards. Poster-sized portraits of the grads line the vacant millsite fence along Highway 1, appropriately near Taco Bell, a favored Timberwolves' feeding ground.
Luther Jackson, the 77-year-old man reported missing from his Little Valley cabin (Willits area) on May 21, will again be the subject of a concerted search effort on Sunday, June 7. Law enforcement and Search and Rescue personnel will again converge on the rural but relatively populous area about ten miles north of Fort Bragg, and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is asking residents to stay off the roads there as much as possible on Sunday. Jackson is a longtime resident, sound of mind and body by all reports, who reportedly told an acquaintance recently that he had found an old marijuana grow site in the woods that he was fixing up to use himself, including building a makeshift bridge across a creek so he could get there.
C.V. STARR CENTER
The C.V. Starr Center, Fort Bragg's shuttered recreation palace (three swimming pools complete with a two-story slide and “Lazy River” qualifies it as a palace) will stay closed until January, according to a proposed 2020-21 budget presented by the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District to the Fort Bragg City Council Thursday night. Mendocino Coast Recreation & Parks District Executive Director Dan Keyes has already been let go and the district is running on a skeleton crew of a couple of maintenance people and part time administrators keeping necessary paperwork flowing. Fort Bragg's city government, which provides the lion's share of C.V. Starr operational funding, has the final word on the fate of the C.V. Starr Center, and will be looking over the proposed budget in the coming weeks.