‘A safe place’: Berkeley residents hold vigils to support Black Lives Matter

black lives matter protest
Karen Cagan/Courtesy

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In support of the Black community and communities of color, an ad hoc group is holding vigils each Friday that give older adults and people with disabilities the opportunity to participate in recent protests.

Four organizers, including Karen Cagan and Netsy Firestein, have put the vigils together every Friday since the beginning of June, according to Cagan. She added that these vigils are meant to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It was designed for seniors and people with disabilities … who were looking for a different kind of protest where social distancing was maintained,” Cagan said.

The first two vigils each had roughly 250 people in attendance. The third vigil, held June 19, had about 80 attendees, according to Cagan.

Although the crowd is mainly composed of older individuals and people with disabilities, Cagan said she saw many families and young people join the most recent vigil.

Cagan added that she hopes the public will see how the vigils support the Black Lives Matter movement.

“We are mainly hoping that the public and the people who drive by see that we’re standing in support of Black Lives Matter movement and the support of Black and other communities of color,” Cagan said.

The organizers initially planned the vigils for the four Fridays in June, but Cagan said as long as there are other protests occurring where social distancing is not possible, they want to continue to provide “a safe place” for people in Berkeley to participate.

Cagan added that she thinks it is important that people have a place to go where they can support the movement against racial injustice.

The group, which wrote an “invitation” for every vigil in June, spreads awareness of the events by asking attendees to share the demonstrations on social media and tagging the Movement for Black Lives organization.

The invitation also highly encourages participants to wear masks when attending, in addition to socially distancing.

The group will hold another vigil June 26.

Contact Shylie Ati at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @shylieati.