Kymberly Arellanes (left) and Julie Tumamait-Stenslie of the Barbareño/Ventureño Band of Mission Indians in front of Ventura City Hall on Oct. 11, 2020. Photo by Barry Harrington. 

by Kimberly Rivers

On Sunday, Oct. 11, a gathering of Indigenous people from the region gathered at noon in front of Ventura City Hall to commemorate Indigenous People’s Day. Near the end of the gathering a large group of trucks drove past on Poli St. and then began doing loops around the triangle area in front of city hall at Poli and California streets. 

The drivers honked the horns and they and the passengers yelled at the group that had assembled. 

“We indigenous people never needed a holiday, we always knew the truth of this day,” said KC Rodriguez, a member of the Barbareño-Ventureño Band of Mission Indians. 

Last year the Ventura County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to name the second Monday in October, previously called Columbus Day, Indigenous People’s Day. “It’s nice to know more and more cities are finally acknowledging the truth, but it’s just a small step in the right direction of reconciliation.” 

Witnessing the trucks passing the group repeatedly and taunting the people who had gathered, Rodriguez said it was obvious that someone had told the people in the trucks about their gathering. She said that as they were ending their gathering and “trying to do our final speaking . . . they were obviously trying to stir up a conflict.” 

She said that people in the trucks were yelling “we support the statue” and “It’s Columbus Day,”  and that the trucks had “Trump flags and U.S. flags.” 

“They had nothing better to do than to bother us,” Rodriguez continued. “We were peacefully gathering there . . . there was not any sort of negativity, they brought hate and ugliness . . . it was disrespectful and ugly.”

According to Rodriguez, a few people attending the gathering were hit by the trucks.

“I saw vehicles hit two people, [the drivers] didn’t care,” she said, adding that the people she saw who got hit walked away and that she didn’t know if they were injured or not. The group Rodriguez was with walked to their cars and as they drove away, they saw a police officer there. “He was just talking to the white people. He didn’t talk or try to get any information from an indigenous person.” 

“The most sad thing is that they actually had kids in the truck, I saw them. You guys really think that is OK showing your kid this hatred? . . . They have them thinking their parents are doing the right thing by trying to run people over in the crosswalk.” 

Online Update: Posts on social media following the incident appear to be from a driver admitting to hitting someone at the Oct. 11 gathering. According to people present at the event, the post has been submitted to the Ventura Police Department. Stay tuned for further reporting.