WATSONVILLE — A group of protesters calling for the closure of detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border delayed the start of the annual Spirit of Watsonville parade by roughly 25 minutes on Thursday.
Local community activist and organizer Olga Fuentes gathered about three dozen people to show their displeasure with the ongoing political climate at the border, and the inaction at the federal, state and local level.
“We’re against what the government is doing, we want the camps to be shut down,” Fuentes said. “We want the kids to be reunited with their families.”
Protesters were dressed in black, had their mouths taped shut with black tape and held signs that read “stop terrorizing kids,” “close the camps now” and “we stand for those who don’t have a voice.”
“We’re dressed in black because children are dying under the supposed care of the government,” Fuentes said. “We’re taped because congress and our government in our community are not speaking up for us. We need true leadership.”
City of Watsonville officials knew about the protest beforehand, and allowed the group to delay the scheduled noon start time to diffuse the situation. The protesters were the lone group walking down Main Street in front of thousands sitting and standing shoulder-to-shoulder awaiting the annual festivities.
Fuentes said it took roughly four days to organize the protest.
“This isn’t for me, it’s time,” Fuentes said. “When awesome leaders get together for a great cause, things happen.”