El Paso celebrates Juneteenth by marching for racial justice

Organizer+Lisa+Laslor++leads+protesters++in+march+on+outskirts+of+Veterans+Park+along+Rushing+Road+during+Juneteenth+Rally+Saturday+June+19%2C+2020.

Michael Cuviello

Organizer Lisa Laslor leads protesters in march on outskirts of Veterans Park along Rushing Road during Juneteenth Rally Saturday June 19, 2020.

Anahy Diaz, Editor

More than 200 people gathered Friday in Northeast El Paso to celebrate Juneteenth with a march against police brutality and systemic racism.  

The El Paso crowd gathered at Veterans Park Friday afternoon for Juneteenth, a day that celebrates and commemorates the effective end of slavery in Texas and the country. The event was organized by Lisa Laslor, a member of CommUNITY Healing Texas, an organization focused on providing opportunities and resources to help the community heal together as one.  

“Juneteenth is the day that we were actually free. That’s the reason why I celebrate, as a tribute to my ancestors for paving the way for me, ” Laslor said. “I’m glad that it’s finally getting recognized…It’s a movement and it’s progress for our community.”  

The event included music, free food, free books related to race and diversity, and an open mic where people were encouraged to perform self-written songs and poetry in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Members of the crowd were also invited to help Rosio Ortega, an art teacher at Canutillo Middle School, create an art piece meant to highlight the beauty of natural Black hair.  

Ortega was inspired to create a piece that featured the outline of a Black woman with an afro, following a video she watched that told the story of a young Black girl who was seeking to chemically straighten her hair after being bullied for sporting her natural hair. 

 “I wanted to represent unity and growth through the actual painting, by having protestors add fingerprints that would create an afro,” Ortega said. “I just feel like I need to represent and show my students that they don’t have to change and that we should be more open minded about how we judge people whether it’s skin color, gender or really just anything.”  

Later, the crowd began to march around the park holding signs while chanting and demanding justice for those who have died due to police brutality, such as Breonna Taylor, a 26 year-old Black emergency medical technician who was fatally shot March 13 inside her apartment by plainclothes Louisville Metro Police Department officers that conducted a no-knock search warrant.  

“I’m just out here to bring awareness to Black Lives Matter, not that all lives don’t matter, but right now Black lives are going through a lot of horrendous murders,” said Sheree, a member of the march. “We take Juneteenth as a day to celebrate that slavery is over and that we are supposed to be free, but as you can see, a lot of us don’t feel so free nowadays.”  

Sheree said she was marching not just to demand the end of police brutality against Black lives, but to also oppose the poor treatment undocumented immigrants receive after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.  

“There’s still a lot of my sisters and brothers at the border who are not being treated great, they are not getting medical attention or anything,” Shree said. “We have to proudly speak for equal rights, because again, God made one race of people, that’s the human race. We are all related and we should all love each other no matter what color you are or where you come from.”  

Another El Paso rally is set to take place  6.p.m Sunday, June 21 in Armijo Park to protest police brutality inflicted on the black, brown and LGBTQIA+ community.

 

Anahy Diaz may be reached at [email protected]