Student-organized sit-in

Yejin Heo, Staff Writer

An informative sit-in led by junior Sondos Elbershawi and Orange County for Black Lives (OCFBL) educated San Clemente residents on police brutality and racism on Sept. 27. Kurt Reinhold, a black man, was shot and killed by white policemen on Sept. 24 in San Clemente for a crime that most people do not get fined for: jaywalking. To spread awareness about the continuing perils of racism in San Clemente, Elbershawi decided to organize an educational event.

“0.7 % of people in San Clemente are black, yet two in the past month have died at the hands of the police,” a speaker from OCFBL said at Elbershawi’s sit- in. “The system is failed. The system is broken. We see it every day.”

After successfully partnering with OCFBL, Elbershawi spread infographics and flyers to teachers, residents, students, influencers and businesses, receiving an overwhelming wave of support. Initially, everything seemed to go as planned on the day of the sit-in as people gather around on blankets and passing out water bottles, but conflict soon arose after the speeches began. White

strangers approached the group multiple times throughout the sit-in, shouting violent, racist and profane statements. One of them said that the participants “were not welcome here,” and later revealed he was equipped with a firearm.

“It became very clear that people are not afraid to harm others when their superiority is threatened,” Elbershawi said. “ These people did not care that we were being peaceful, that this event was organized by someone a third of their age or that we were simply being informative.”

Three police cars and many more on motorcycles circled the area throughout the three-hour sit-in. Despite the verbal assaults, Elbershawi was thankful that her event was being recognized and making an impact.

Elbershawi plans on teaming up with OCFBL to organize more gatherings. Until then, she is attending as many other protests as possible and educating others using social media, which she uses to share petitions, articles and infographics.

“Nothing will change unless you actively try to educate yourself first, then others,” Elbershawi said. “Always look to be educated and educate and do not be afraid to confront people. Every voice matters.”