By Elizabeth Mendia
Kern Valley Sun
A vigil for George Floyd was held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, June 19 at Circle Park in Kernville. Just over 125 persons gathered in remembrance of Floyd, whose death at the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin in May sparked ongoing protests, civil unrest, and a broader national dialogue about police reform.
“We are extremely proud of the Kern Valley,” said sisters Megan and Emma Lane of Wofford Heights, who with the help of their mother, friend Vanessa, and others, organized the evening’s vigil; “we’re very moved by how many people showed up today,” they said.
The vigil consisted of brief remarks by the organizers, a candle-lit observance of eight minutes and forty-six seconds of silence, which was the amount of time police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck, resulting in his death, according to the criminal complaint against him. The vigil closed with a performance of Buffalo Springfield’s iconic protest song from 1966, For What It’s Worth, by local performer Katherine Edmonson.
“It was really hard for us to figure out what to do because there’s a lot of this valley that has a lot of opinions, and we really didn’t want to create something that kinda gave a platform for a lot of those voices, and for there to be conflict,” said Emma Lane. Prior to the event, there had been a vigorous exchange on social media, with some raising concerns that the vigil might devolve into violence, or that it might be intentionally disrupted by detractors. The event, however, was mostly held in respectful silence by both participants and nearby onlookers.
During the vigil, candles were lit, some participants held signs aloft, and a few lay face down on the ground with their arms locked behind their backs in emulation of Mr. Floyd’s final moments.
When asked if there was a broader purpose to the event, Megan replied “I would say, number one, it’s an honoring and it’s a vigil. It’s not a protest or a rally. It’s a peaceful vigil. I would say that the main reason is for Mr. Floyd, because he sparked a revolution that has been a long time coming.”
No additional events are planned by the organizers at this time, though they hoped the vigil might inspire others. “The first one is always the scariest,” they said, “We’d be happy to help others in the future. We’d be happy to help with anything.”