Around 1,000 people march Friday in the annual Juneteenth celebration in downtown Santa Cruz. —Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian

Friday was Juneteenth, a day celebrated with events around the country, including a peaceful march in Santa Cruz to commemorate the historic day. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Senator Elizabeth Warren stacked up the right words on it: “On June 19th, 1865, Galveston, Texas erupted in joy when news of emancipation finally arrived more than two years after Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation… But Juneteenth isn’t just about celebration. It’s a necessary reminder that 155 years later, Black Americans still feel the weight of government-sponsored racism and discrimination devaluing their lives and livelihoods.” 

Arizona, Florida, Texas and at least seven other states are reporting their highest weekly Covid-19 infection-rate averages. Oddly, little is being done to reconsider moves to reopen the economy following months of stay-at-home orders to combat the novel coronavirus. In some cities and town in California, where the Covid-19 deaths have topped 5,493, restaurants, gyms, nail and hair places, bars, pubs, cafes, movies theaters and more continue to reopen, with some restrictions, like masks and social distancing.

Close to 120,000 Americans have died of Covid-19 and more than half of the states are reporting recent spikes. While there are talks of preparations for a “second wave” of the virus in the fall, some experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, said: “When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave? We’re in the first wave. Let’s get out of the first wave before you have a second wave.”

On Saturday at President Trump’s first campaign rally since the early March stay-at-home order, 6,200 people showed up, despite him telling people beforehand that over a million had signed up. His organizers even rented a nearby spillover stadium, preparing for an overall total crowd there and at the BOK stadium of close to 60,000 people.

One thing he told the screaming crowd, regarding the coronavirus, was this: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”

When called out on the statement later, he claimed he was only joking.

Wednesday was a powerful day for me, covering the motorcade and memorial for fallen Sheriff’s Sgt. Damon Gutzwiller. My day started at 7:30am when I rode my bike out to Soquel Avenue to position myself for a photo of the passing motorcade. It was headed up by about 80 motorcycle police. The curbs were lined with groups of people, some waving flags and signs. I took note of as many police departments I could: Alameda, San Francisco, Danville, San Pablo, LA, Belmont, Salinas, Hercules, Goleta, Daly City, San Ramon, San Mateo, Hayward, Fresno, Burlingame, Santa Clara, Richmond, Hollister, Stanford, UCSC, Simi Valley and more. Then there were the fire departments and other emergency services, on top of four gargantuan full-sized busses packed with family and friends, tow trucks and more.

The memorial at Cabrillo College, in my mind, met all levels of a respectful farewell. I’ve covered a few of these in my years as a journalist and they’re certainly challenging, both emotionally and physically—to say nothing of trying to get it all right in print. My sincere compliments sure go out to the folks that organized Wednesday’s events.

I stopped by the Watsonville Public Library Thursday to check out how they’re dealing with Covid-19-era programs. You still can’t go in the library but a friendly group of librarians are there at the door to get you what you need. Most of it can be done online at

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Tarmo Hannula has been the lead photographer with The Pajaronian newspaper in Watsonville since 1997. More recently Good Times & Press Banner. He also reports on a wide range of topics, including police, fire, environment, schools, the arts and events. A fifth generation Californian, Tarmo was born in the Mother Lode of the Sierra (Columbia) and has lived in Santa Cruz County since the late 1970s. He earned a BA from UC Santa Cruz and has traveled to 33 countries.


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