SANTA CRUZ—Hundreds of people filled the streets of downtown Santa Cruz Monday to participate in the third-annual Martin Luther King march, an event co-sponsored by the NAACP and the Santa Cruz Police Department.
“This is a business model of the Santa Cruz Police Department,” said SCPD Chief Andy Mills. “That’s why we go to the effort of doing these things, to send the message not only to the department but to the community that we want to work with people.”
Greg Hester of Soquel came to the march with his 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. He said he wanted them to see a positive political message.
“They see and hear a lot of awful things these days,” he said. “This is just a celebratory gathering with a message of hope.”
Don Williams, who heads up the local chapter of the NAACP, called the holiday celebrating the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., “an extremely important day.”
“It’s a chance for the community – people from all walks of life to come together – to support a man who is a legend in our time,” Williams said. “His whole message was coming together in love and respect, and really sharing with and caring for one another, and doing things right.”
Williams said that, in a time of growing political divisiveness, such events are more important than ever.
“It’s a walk that we should all have in this country,” he said. “Embracing each other, loving each other respecting one another, and really uplifting each other higher than ourselves.”