Jordan Finister and hundreds of other protesters on June 6 led a peaceful march in downtown Hollister in honor of George Floyd.
The 20-year old Hollister native also stood in front of the Gavilan College parking garage on Fourth Street as he shared his experience with racial injustice, including a time he was pulled over and detained.
At the time, Finister’s companion in the car was terrified to scratch an itch on his nose in fear of provoking the officer.
“People need to hear the first hand experiences because in this town the black community is not very big, it’s not very deep at all whatsoever,” he said.
Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velázquez said he’s proud of Finister and the group he was with for organizing the march.
“I’m so impressed by them, so incredibly grateful that they did it and so many people came out,” he said. “It was a positive, peaceful protest with people caring and wanting to see change in a positive way.”
Other local government officials participated including Hollister Councilman Rolan Resendiz and San Benito County Public Information Officer David Westrick.
Finister said he was surprised to see people already waiting at the San Benito High School football field parking lot prior to the scheduled meeting time at 11 a.m.
“It turned out way bigger than I expected,” he said.
At least 1,000 people marched toward downtown on San Benito Street, stopped at a grass covered knoll at the 400 block for speeches and then proceeded to the front of the San Benito County Superior Court building on Fourth Street.
Finister said the point he wanted to make during Saturday’s march is that there’s clearly a race issue in America.
“That cannot be ignored,” he said. “There is no way to ignore that there is not a race issue in this country. I have no hate for cops, I have no hate for people that are racist. I don’t have hate for them because they don’t understand what they don’t know.”
Finister said because of that they, as black men, don’t feel comfortable talking about racial issues in town and the United States. He said that meant he had to take charge and communicate with locals by holding a positive demonstration.
Finister said it’s up to those who do understand to bring up the hard questions and to make people think about it.
“To let them really think maybe there is an issue in this town. Maybe there is an issue in this country,” he said.
Velázquez said he and his parents endured similar situations such as Finister. He recalls growing up in a neighborhood where they would get beat up by the cops for doing the wrong thing.
Velázquez mentioned that these types of stories shouldn’t be told anymore and that we should stop bowing to special interest.
“We should be sharing stories of what they’ve done, that they’re changing society and all the great things that they’re doing out there,” he said. “Not pull them over because they’re black.”
Velázquez said as a community they need to keep working together to put an end to racial injustice and prejudice, which includes listening to the public and making the changes we all deserve.
Velázquez said he’s fortunate to have someone like Finister take charge of an event such as Saturday’s march.
“I’m just blessed to have them as part of my community and I can’t thank them all enough,” he said.
Finister ended the march by standing in front of the San Benito County Superior Court building on Fourth Street as he read from a list of black victims of police violence as the crowd of protesters chanted, “Say their names.”
Finister said he wants people to walk away with a more open mind than the one they showed up with prior to the march.
“I want people to walk away with new information, new thoughts,” he said. “I want people to walk away [knowing] there’s still an issue, it hasn’t left….It’s not just me, it’s every black man.”
George Floyd died May 25 while in custody of Minneapolis Police. His arrest and death were caught on camera, and the incident has sparked nationwide protests against police misconduct and in favor of criminal justice reform.