It all started when Paulina Petersen’s daughter (in Iowa of all places) read a post by a young Black woman, Adrianne Tait Wohlfeil (she goes by Tait) on Facebook. Tait was interested in organizing a unifying protest supporting Black Lives Matter in Ferndale. Some of you may know Tait. She lived in Ferndale for 8 years and spent two years at Ferndale High. Her experience here was not a pleasant one. She now lives in Eureka.
Tait contacted the city of Ferndale and spoke with the Police Chief about a Sunday afternoon gathering on the village green. The chief stated that COVID precautions of masks and social distancing must be observed. She asked the mayor of Ferndale, Michael Sweeney, if he would speak at the event. Michael agreed. She asked Humboldt Bay Fire Chief, Bill Reynolds, if he would speak. Bill agreed.
As Sunday, June 28 approached, Tait realized she had not planned for some kind of audio support. Paulina texted me. I texted Paul Beatie (who else, right?) and he said “I’m there!”
At 2:00 on a sunny and very windy Sunday afternoon, Paul and I arrived at the village green to set up. As Paul began to set up an incredible array of speakers and a microphone, I met Tait for the first time. I asked her if there was something I could do to help set up. She handed me two printed sheets of paper and said “Could you please read my speech and tell me if it’s too much.” I walked away and read the words. They were words that described the pain of being a Person of Color, of living in fear and not being accepted for who you are.
I returned the speech back to Tait with tears in my eyes and said “You are speaking the truth and your story needs to be heard. It’s perfect.”
And then the event began with over 100 attendees wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Read Tait’s speech here. After Michael and Bill spoke words of encouragement, Tait returned to the microphone and asked if anyone needed their voice to be heard . . . more than 25 people did. View their photos here. And even though those in pick up trucks who encircled the event provided their kind of “white supremacist noise” by honking and gunning their engines, we heard every word that was spoken.
In my mind, this story began with the placing of this sign on Main Street in Ferndale by Paulina and Arne and then . . . all the flowers and then . . . all the notes. Read the Lost Coast Outpost story here.
More than two dozen Indivisible Ferndale members attended “the gathering” on Sunday..
This is who We are.
Together, We are Indivisible Ferndale.