LONG BEACH — Sporting a rainbow tie-dyed head wrap and polarized sunglasses, 48-year-old John Darcy’s protest of police violence was hard to miss on June 4 in Long Beach.
Carrying a sign with the message “I can’t breathe” written in block letters, Darcy joined thousands of people across all 50 states and the District of Columbia who protested last week against police violence. Protests also broke out in nearby Oregon cities of Seaside, Warrenton and Astoria.
The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month sparked the nationwide protests against police killings of Black people.
The protests have also called attention to the March 13 death of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor. Taylor, an emergency room technician, was shot at least eight times by officers who executed a no-knock warrant on her apartment in the middle of the night.
Darcy was outraged when he saw the video of Floyd’s death, which showed an officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.
“You’re watching this horrible thing happen,” Darcy said. “And there is no question about what is happening. I don’t see regular society going back the way it was.”
Darcy’s protest was met with supportive honks from cars driving past. One man shouted at Darcy to go home, but Darcy said those interactions were rare. Most appeared apathetic to his protest, he said.
Along with other Pacific County residents, Darcy attended protests in Astoria, but was making sure to protest in Long Beach too. He wanted to encourage people to get out and stand with him.
“This is a big thing,” Darcy said. “This is a tipping point.”
At one point, Long Beach Police Officer Mike Parker drove past Darcy in an unmarked vehicle. Parker pulled over and thanked Darcy for protesting peacefully.
Long Beach Police Department Chief Flint Wright said he didn’t want to get into the specifics of the Floyd case beyond that it was a “bad deal.” He did ask community members to reach out to the police department if they had any concerns and he’d be willing to listen and talk with them.
“I want make sure the community continues to trust us and we continue to earn that trust and not abuse it — through all this that’s my biggest concern,” Wright said.
The Long Beach Police Department can be reached by phone at 360-642-3416.