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Protesters march in Citrus Heights to decry racism, police brutality

Protesters march through the intersection of Greenback Lane and San Juan Avenue on Saturday, making their way to Citrus Heights City Hall. // Mike Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip–
From Sunrise Mall to City Hall, around 100 demonstrators of all ages and races marched with “Black Lives Matter” signs along Greenback Lane Friday and Saturday, as cars honked in support.

Once marchers reached City Hall, participants observed eight minutes of silence to commemorate the length of time a Minneapolis police officer held George Floyd to the ground on May 25, killing him. Organizers then read aloud the names of those who have died during police encounters.

San Juan High School classmates Jordon Modkins, 16, and Asia Morris, 17, organized the march with the help of Jordon’s pastor, Bishop Ron Allen. Jordon said the march was organized to fight stereotypes and injustices “in everyday society.”

Signs held by marchers included messages reading: “No justice, no peace,” “End police brutality,” “Defund the police,” “Stop killing us,” “Justice for George Floyd,” “Enough,” and “Am I next?”

Asia said more conservative areas like Citrus Heights are the best place to communicate their message.

“This is just the perfect area to inform and educate people of this kind of injustice,” she said, referencing racial disparities in sentencing and arrest rates. “This was the place to make a change first.”

Citrus Heights police escorted the protesters through the intersection at Sunrise Boulevard and Greenback Lane, keeping traffic moving along Greenback while giving the march space for safety. Lieutenant Michael Wells said protest organizers had requested police assistance in advance.

“During the march, we maintained traffic safety in the lane adjacent to the sidewalk to avoid any vehicle and pedestrian conflicts if the protesters stepped off the sidewalk into the roadway,” Wells said in an email to The Sentinel.

Bishop Allen, of Greater Solomon Temple Community Church in Natomas, said he worked with high school students Asia and Jordon during the planing of the event to ensure it remained peaceful. Wearing a shirt emblazoned with the biblical reference “John 3:16,” he opened the event with a prayer, asking God to bring peace and justice.

“Systemic change needs to happen,” Allen told The Sentinel. “Not only in the police department, but in this nation.”

“I don’t know if I am going to see the change, my age being 62,” Allen said. “I don’t know if I’m going to see the change, but I can help fight for the change for the next black and brown generation.”

Police on Friday announced support for the marchers’ First Amendment rights and thanked community members for keeping the event peaceful.

“CHPD is proud to support and protect those that want to exercise their right to free speech,” police said in a statement posted on social media. “Thank you to our community for ensuring the protest remained peaceful so that the voices could be heard by the people who attended.”

Related: Citrus Heights police chief speaks out on Floyd death, protests, looting

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