I’ve been staying with my family in California’s East Bay and every Sunday we walk to the local farmers market here in Martinez. I was there around noon on June 21 when a crowd of people walked up clapping and shouting in celebration. I had no idea this Black Lives Matter rally was going to take place. The celebratory crowd seemed to come out of the bushes!  Around 50 people, some holding signs, took a knee in honor of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery. Some of the shoppers walked away but a large section of the market knelt and listened. The approach caught me off guard but the message was great. I didn’t have my camera on me but was able to use my phone to capture the event.

The response hasn’t been without tension, though. Martinez made national news when the Black Lives Matter mural, painted in front of the Wakefield Taylor Courthouse on July 4, was defaced. Since then two Martinez residents have been charged with three misdemeanor counts, including a hate crime, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In the photo above you can just make out the spots where the mural was painted over with black paint.

In response to the vandalism, more than 500 people showed up in Martinez for the most recent Black Lives Matter rally, on Sunday, July 12.

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

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Eddie Herena

Eddie Herena is a former staff photographer for San Quentin News, the only prisoner-run newspaper in California. He now works as a freelance photographer. His work has been published in various publications including Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Next City, The Athletic and San Francisco Chronicle.