“Pack of Karens” Footage Emboldens Visalia BLM Protests

BLM protest at the corner of Mooney and Caldwell. Photo by Jordan Coleman

“I want racists to be afraid,” activist and Black Lives Matter (BLM) organizer Leslie Diaz said.

Only days after footage surfaced of female Trump supporters taking down Black Lives Matter posters outside of El Diamante High School, Diaz and four of her friends quickly put together a protest to counter the women who tore down the signs.

There was originally no demonstration scheduled on Saturday the 27th. But after seeing the alarming footage and realizing one of the women was a part-time employee of the Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE), Diaz and her friends were compelled to organize a last-minute protest on the corner of Caldwell and Mooney in Visalia.

Dozens of masked protesters answered the call despite rising temperatures.

Deyzha Gonzales, 21, one of the organizers, was particularly passionate when speaking about the movement.

“We want them to know we’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.”

The organizers mentioned that activists are planning yet another protest at the same location and time on 4th of July. The name of the protest has not been determined. But some are calling it an “Anti-Fourth-of-July Protest.”

Organizers expect to have a BBQ and hand out information at the next protest. The information will focus on elected officials, the city budget, and board members of the TCOE. According to Gonzales, the goal is to educate the community about “racism and anti-blackness.”

When asked if Gonzales was concerned about protesting on arguably the most patriotic holiday in American history, she explained that she was not.

“It’s just another day for me…” she said. “We just want to keep the momentum going and it just happened to land on the 4th of July. I think we’re all very aware that America is not very for Black lives right now…It wouldn’t feel right celebrating America with all this going on still.”

El Diamante March and One Family’s Stand-Off

A few hours after the afternoon protest on Caldwell and Mooney, protesters changed venue and gathered just north of Akers and Whitendale to add their signs to the fencing around El Diamante High School.

By 5pm temperatures had reached triple-digits. Regardless, protesters marched up and down Akers chanting the names of fallen Black lives.

One family in particular stood out from the rest.

Cuauhtémoc Machado, 8, held up a “BLM” sign while his parents raised their fists in the air in front of a Visalia police patrol parked in front of the school.

Photo by Martin Velasco-Ramos

“I was scared,” the boy explained as he reflected on the moment.

When asked why he was scared, Machado became very emotional.  “Because I’m a darker skin color,” he explained, as he fought back tears and clutched his belly. “I felt sick when I saw [the cop]…Sick to my stomach.”

This wasn’t the first time Machado had done something difficult in the name of the Black community. The week of George Floyd’s murder, Machado expressed his desire to make a difference to his mom, who suggested raising money to donate to an organization of his choice.

He chose the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). His first goal was $100. When he met that goal, he increased the goal to $300.

So far he has raised a total of $1,085 for the organization.

Machado’s parents were incredibly proud of their son. His mother was especially moved. She cried after seeing her son’s courageous actions during Saturday’s El Diamante March.

She explained that the boy’s grandfather lived during a time when people of color were discouraged and even punished for being themselves.

“They didn’t have a choice to be who they were,” she said. “Watching my son (who has a choice) follow what he believes is right, do the right thing, make change and stand up against those my father and grandparents couldn’t…Makes me so proud.”

The Protests (and the Signs) are here to Stay

Across the nation, BLM protests have continued despite mainstream media slowing their coverage of the movement. Americans are still hitting the streets in droves. Confederate statues are falling. Whole city blocks are under protester control…All in the name of change.

And it’s working.

Multiple cities in the U.S. have already enacted what some may call “radical police reforms.” City councils are finally listening and taking the opportunity to take action.

According to the Fresno Bee, the Fresno City Council recently approved a “controversial gun violence reduction program” called Advance Peace that would put $300,000 annually towards providing true public safety for all Fresno communities and residents.

Local BLM protests have been going on for over a month and show no sign of slowing until changes are made to the system. It’s for this reason that the protestors plan to attend city council meetings and continue to post signs at El Diamante High school, even if they get torn down again.

Organizers are confident the movement will live on because pushback from people who disagree has only increased support for the cause.

“It acted as a catalyst,” Leila Mori, 30, organizer of the El Diamante March explained. “Every time [the signs] came down, there was more support.”

In fact, a small unit of community members have come together to form a group that watches over the signs outside the school every night. According to the founder, Lupe Ponce Wong, she decided to form the group on Facebook after witnessing the notorious footage and dubbed it the “Anti-Karen Brigade.” The name appears to be a nod to a string of Twitter and Facebook posts referring to the women who tore down the signs as a “pack of Karens.”

Diaz, Gonzales, Mori and Wong are only the latest in a long line of activists to take up leadership roles in the local BLM movement.

But the BLM movement does not have a singular leader. “We don’t really need someone like Martin Luther King or Malcolm X to create change,” Gonzales said. “Because our generation is very powerful in numbers and we all have the same goal.”

“It’s de-centralized,” Mori explained. “It helps people of all ages, all backgrounds to understand (no matter what your socio-economics are) none of that matters. What matters is we are human and we are united, protecting the most vulnerable groups amongst us.”

26 thoughts on ““Pack of Karens” Footage Emboldens Visalia BLM Protests

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  1. Any time a white woman acts up we call her Karen. Can we stop this, would you call a black man acting up Tyrone? You know damn well you would not.

    • Unfortunately white women have used the “damsel in distress” facade to bring violence upon black people and those of color who try to diminish their attacks of hate. This cannot be said the other way around. That’s why they are Karens.

        • Not all white women of course, only the women who act in this ridiculous, shameful and potentially harmful way.

          • So like I said, if we see a black man acting the fool, it wouldnt be racist to call him Tyrone right?

        • It’s wrong and I agree with you. Even a small taste of what people of color go through their entire lives is unacceptable to you. Imagine, just imagine if that’s what your entire life was like.

    • Deflecting much? Stop with the silliness of name calling. Address the substance of this movement head on. Either you are supportive or you are not. Perhaps you “kind of” support the cause but you have issues with how they are publicly going about it. Or you don’t support it and wished that they all would crawl back into the woodwork and not be seen or heard. Enough with the pettiness of calling someone Karen or Tyrone.

  2. The BLM issue is overdone, the school is near a residential area. So no respect by this Marxist group towards those that live in the area, also love the graffiti on the sidewalk. Thanks for costing the city money for your actions.

    • My name is Karen! And seeing all this BS actually makes me angry! You are stereotyping white women and lumping all white women together and insulting those actually named Karen! If BLM movement/ Organization cares about black lives then where are they when a 2 yr old black girl was killed in Chicago or an 8 yr old girl shot and murdered in Chicago? I can go on and on about the black on black murders going on in this country yet NO ONE on the Dem side or BLM is talking about them! Why? Because it doesn’t fit their narrative of white cop kills black man! Why are these men who have been in and out of Prison and jail and are serious criminals, becoming marters? George Floyd did NOT deserve to die like that! And those who killed him should be punished according to the law! But stop acting like they are some hero who died at the hands of evil force spread in America and then hate on and blame all cops! Evidence shows more white men are killed by police then black men! Where is the outcry for these men? Why do you have to say he is white and he is black? Why can’t he just be a man and the other just be a man, not just in this instance but in life? Why has the media and television portrayed the black man as the bad criminal type for years, as to ingrain that into people’s brains so they are at odds with each other and think the worst before anything even happens (media brainwashing just like they are doing now!) and then The media turns around and blames society for being racist and condemning the black man as the bad guy. It’s all total bullshit! If people would just be “the human race” and not black race and white race and Hispanic race etc the world would be a much better place! The liberal left media wants to sow discourse and hate and the Dems want the black and Hispanic people to feel discriminated against, like they are the underdog and then give them free this and free that so they become dependent on the government and that dependence guarantees votes! Rather than giving people of any race a hand out, give them a hand up! Give them a job and an education! Give them access to addiction centers and mental health doctors and give the homeless shelters! We don’t have to be against each other! We all want the same thing! To live Our lives and raise our children to become productive, happy adults, and to follow our dreams! To be happy! To be safe! These rioters, I hope all will agree, are accomplishing nothing! They are ignorant and violent looking to cause mayhem because they can! Rioters don’t care about BL or about the George Floyd’s in America! They only care about looting and stealing for themselves and using a strangers death as an excuse to burn and destroy neighborhoods these innocent people reside in and do business in! Wake up people! Don’t be a part of the problem and follow the crowd! Don’t behave in the same manner you are trying to condemn! Listen to black leaders like Candice Owen or a young 17 yr old African American named CJ Pearson! Every story has two sides! Educate yourself and listen to BOTH sides and then make an educated decision rather than just shoot from the hip because someone posted a video or bias news reel! Listen to the real people!
      Yes Black Lives Matter! 99% of us would agree. But let’s focus on all black lives! And run as fast as you can from the race batting BLM organization! And don’t look back!
      Praying for peace! Praying for a color blind America! This Karen OUT!

      • Karen, I agree on a few of you’re points, there were so many though. I do take issue with a few.
        1. You brought up, by name, victims of black on black crime. What are you implying exactly ? To me, that’s like the Catholic Church saying, look how many fathers sexually molest their own children. Does that somehow make it less bad ?
        2. I don’t need the Dems to make me feel discriminated against. I have encountered enough racism in my life to feel that way. This isn’t about Dems or Reps, Libs or Cons, this is human beings who want other human beings to stop killing them as if they don’t matter.
        A few years back, before all this, my beautiful nephew who happens to be Latino and African American got his driver’s license. As much as I hated to do it, I had “the talk” with him. Not the birds and bees talk, it was the “how to not get shot by police” talk. Keep your license and all your documents ready, pull them out of the glove compartment before the officer comes to your window and put them on the dash. Be respectful and keep both your hands up high on the Steering wheel and don’t make any sudden moves. I was sad afterwards, sad that I even tell him these things. Have you ever had this talk or received it ? Take your own personal survey if you’re having trouble believing this. I can almost guarantee that most white people haven’t and most people of color have. My own brother was almost shot because he reached for a piece of gum while on a traffic stop and I do mean gun pointed at his face, cocked back ready to fire.
        Finally, I hope you don’t consider watching Fox News, educating yourself. I too am praying for peace.

  3. Having been born and raised in an ag area, whenever I hear “BLM” I think of the Bureau of Land Management.

    • Black lives murdered especialy in chicago! Vally Voice is now fake news,calling people they are Trump supporters,were you there at the time do you know any of these women,did you ask no you just assumed like i am assuming here.Well i was going to buy member ship but not now!! That’s my view of the valley and it sucks.YES I SUPPORT TRUMP I AM NOT RACIEST DONT ASSUME I AM. JOE BIDEN WONT EVEN COME CLOSE TO BEATING TRUMP MY PREDICTION HE WON’T EVEN SHOW UP AT THE DEBATES..TRUMP WINS BY PROXY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Buy what membership? If you are talking about Valley Voice you don’t have to “buy” membership to read it. DUH! For the record Sonny Boy I don’t work for the Valley Voice but I say that you are a little piece of nothing if you support Trump and that makes you complicit in his racism, lies, and treason. Send your membership dues to the Putin/Trump political fund. They will gladly use your money to help pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers.

  4. I want to know why racist people hide behind patriotism ? As a US Marine, I swore to defend this nation. I did so because I love my country and all that it stood for. I believe that it’s out of love for our country that we want it to improve. To live up to principals that created this great nation. I support BLM the movement and that doesn’t mean I belong to BLM the organization. I’m sick of white supremacist and their apologist attempting to confuse the issue of police brutality and racial injustice with being anti-American. Wanting change doesn’t mean you hate America. We just want the America that was promised to us when we pledged our allegiance to this country. Liberty and justice for all is worth fighting for. It’s Un-American to standby and do nothing while American citizens of are being murdered by the very people who have sworn to serve and protect our communities. How can this be interpreted as hating your country ? It’s just a smokescreen. We stand united against hate, injustice, and police brutality and racism in all its many forms. If you are against us, doesn’t that mean you support hate, injustice brutality and racism ? Who is the real Anti-American ?

      • AND SHOW ME A WHITE SUPREMIST MARINE! I have not seen one,i don’t know what a privileged white person is as you i worked my ass off to make a living,your going to have to show me pictures of real white supremest,i seen some on tv once but that was rigfged for ratings..I will ask you one question Marine.Will you take my gun if your told to.Thank you for your service Marine.HOOOORAAAHHH

        • A 2009 Homeland Security report cited “disgruntled military veterans” as one group to watch. Timothy McVeigh was known in the Army as disciplined and motivated but awkward toward many people and hostile to the black soldiers he led. He shined in evaluations but failed in an attempt to join the Special Forces because of an injury, and left the service disillusioned in 1991. He found infamy on April 19, 1995, detonating a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people and wounded 600 more. James A. Fields Jr., 20, who served briefly in the Army, expressed admiration for Nazis and was charged with second-degree murder in the vehicular death of Heather Heyer. Another veteran, Dillon Ulysses Hopper, served in the Marine Corps until January and then emerged as the leader of Vanguard America, a neo-Nazi hate group that marched alongside Fields in Charlottesville (Hopper was not present). Unlike Fields, who washed out of the Army in four months, Hopper was a Marine for more than 10 years, rising to the rank of staff sergeant, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan and serving as a recruiter for Recruiting Station Charleston, S.C., from 2011 to 2014. The third veteran to emerge with connections to Charlottesville is Nathan Damigo, 31, a former Marine corporal who was deployed to Iraq twice and saw combat, according to military records. The Southern Poverty Law Center has previously identified him as the founder of the white supremacist group Identity Evropa, which he started after being jailed for armed robbery.

  5. Ms Truth, you’re just another racist hiding behind anonymity. You also need a dictionary because you don’t even know what fascism means. Get a clue before before you start calling a decorated combat veteran a traitor.

  6. She didn’t call him a traitor i believe she was reffering to BLM into which has turned to play with the devil~

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