Encinitas 4 Equality looks to grow its mission

Encinitas 4 Equality started by holding gatherings at Cardiff Kook.

Following the murder of George Floyd, a group of Encinitas residents started the grassroots group Encinitas 4 Equality to address systemic racism and support Black residents in North County who are fighting racism.

One of the group’s founders, Encinitas resident Mali Woods-Drake, said her parents were labor organizers.

“I always joke that I was raised on a picket line, so it’s kind of been in my blood since before I was born,” said Woods-Drake, a representative for health care workers of the Service Employees International Union.

Encinitas 4 Equality started with nightly peaceful protests at the Cardiff Kook, where residents gathered to hold signs, read the names of Black people who have died in police custody and make other gestures that called attention to systemic racism.

“Every night, there were 300 to 500 people that would show up and it really showed us that this was something that the community is passionate about,” Woods-Drake said. “They kept asking what’s next and were looking for direction. From there we created Encinitas 4 Equality.”

There are about 100 to 150 members regularly involved in Encinitas 4 Equality, and about 2,500 followers on social media.

“I believe the vast majority of Encinitas residents believe in equality and equity,” Woods-Drake said. “Because this isn’t something that we deal with on a day-to-day basis — we don’t experience a lot of racism when there’s not a lot of race diversity here — it created an avenue for people to get involved who have been looking for a way to do something in their own backyard.”

One of the reforms the group supports is an increased emphasis on mental health or other types of professionals who might be better equipped than police officers to handle certain calls.

“We believe that there are mental health workers, psychiatrists that are better equipped to handle a large number of calls,” Woods-Drake said. “We are definitely pushing for the split between the sheriff’s deputies answering those calls and them going to different professionals.”

She added that Encinitas 4 Equality, which is pursuing nonprofit status, is “definitely in the growing stages.” Members plan on growing to support other segments of the population in need of support, such as people experiencing homelessness.

Some of Encinitas 4 Equality’s other events include a daily 8 a.m. run for Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot in her home by Louisville police after they executed a no-knock search warrant.

For more information, visit @encinitas4equality on Instagram.