On the day that a funeral was held for George Floyd in Houston, Texas, a candlelight vigil took place in Fontana to remember the man who was killed by a police officer in Minnesota.

Close to 100 people attended the local event, which was hosted by USW Local 7600 on June 9.

"Tonight we are here to stand in solidarity against injustice and institutionalized racism," said John Tillar, director with the Alliance of Healthcare Unions based in Southern California. "As a black man, my heart mourns for the countless number of African American lives lost at the hands of police brutality. We as a country can do better and we must do better when dealing with issues of systemic racism."

Tillar said the Alliance of Healthcare Unions will be joining together to "respond and come up with ways that we can improve all of our members' lives while at work during this troubling time." One way to do this, he said, would be by continuing to focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected minorities.

Tillar was one of several speakers at the vigil, including two members of Congress, Pete Aguilar and Norma Torres, who both represent parts of Fontana.

Other speakers were Gabriela Plascencia, a councilwoman from Riverside; Channing Hawkins, a board member of West Valley Water District; and Kim Johnson-Calvin, a councilwoman from San Bernardino. Music was provided by recording artist Nickie King and DJ Will Supreme, and Bishop Cecil A. Richardson, a Fontana minister, gave an opening prayer.

At the conclusion, the attendees stood silently for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that a Minneapolis officer knelt on Floyd's neck on May 25, causing his death. Protests have taken place throughout the country, including Fontana, over the past two weeks.

The USW event was organized by Joel Maya, contract specialist with Local 7600, along with union President Valery Robinson, Vice President Liz Cuevas, and LVN Dejonae Shaw.

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