The Santa Rosa Cinco De Mayo Festival Soars After Legacy of Violence

May 7, 2015 by No Comments

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Thousands of party-goers took to the streets of Santa Rosa, California recently for the Cinco de Mayo Festival, listening to mariachi bands and eating authentic Mexican cuisine.

The Press Democrat reports that citizens from Santa Rosa and the surrounding towns came together to celebrate the Mexican holiday. Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s 1862 victory against the French in the Battle of Puebla during the War of the French Intervention.

As many as 12,000 people showed up to the festival, which was held at a vacant shopping center. Due to the demolition of an old bowling alley and supermarket, the venue was able to accommodate more people than last year.

The festival goers couldn’t have been more pleased.

“This is something special,” said Gina Klemen, who was born in Columbia. “I love to watch the dancers. And of course, the food.”

There was plenty of food at the event. Vendors lined the festival cooking authentic Mexican food such as tamales, carnitas, and fish tacos. Fish tacos are especially popular in Mexico — as well as healthy. Many health organizations recommend eating seafood at least twice a week to get the recommended weekly intake of 1750 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient important for the metabolism.

Santa Rosa’s Cinco de Mayo Festival wasn’t always so jovial, however. From 2001 to 2004, the festival turned violent. In what some community activists attribute to suspicion of a large crowd of Hispanics, dozens of police officers wearing riot gear and equipped with non-lethal weapons would show up to the event. Some festival goers, feeling that they were unfairly targeted, would fight back against the police, throwing rocks and bottles at them. The police would retaliate by deploying pepper spray and tear gas against the crowd.

Finally, community leaders and police officials met in 2005 to mend relations. The leaders believed that the police presence was due to profiling of Hispanics, whereas the police claimed that they never initiated the violence. Regardless of the blame, the two sides agreed to work together and co-organized the Cinco de Mayo Festival in 2005, which they have been doing without incident ever year since.

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