805 Resistance creates change in the Conejo Valley

Above a large “Join Us” button, the homepage of 805 Resistance (https://805resistance.org/), a local Black-led and women-led grassroots advocacy organization, reads, “There is no growth without resistance.” Founded in 2020, this local activist collaborative has become a household name in the 805 as a pillar for meaningful advocacy focused on diversity, equity and inclusion. The voices and work of the members echo in city council legislation, school board meetings, Juneteenth celebrations, protests and every space where meaningful improvements must occur. Dedicated to being the voice of the voiceless, the members of 805 Resistance are steadfast in changing our community for the better.



La Shaun Aaron, the founder of 805 Resistance and a single, working mother and USC student, knew that she wanted to get more involved in the politics of our area. In 2019, the organization was an idea in Aaron’s mind, and after George Floyd was murdered in 2020, Aaron worked to realize that idea. “[My co-founder and I] got together and decided that we wanted to do something that produced action items,” Aaron explained. “[805 Resistance] is it. This is what we do.”

After posting a couple of flyers at a protest, registering a Facebook account and having a few passionate conversations with like-minded friends, 805 Resistance was born, Aaron at the forefront. As the organization has grown, a diversity of members have joined in the effort.

Stephanie Sullivan, 805 Resistance’s administrator, began volunteering during a Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC) arts showcase in 2021. As one of the few non-BIPOC in then organization, Sullivan reflects on the learning and unlearning she has done. “It’s really making [advocacy] a part of your daily life…trying to make it more of a daily practice of keeping in mind how [our ingrained beliefs] work against certain groups and exclude certain groups, and how they really do benefit other folks like myself as a White person,” Sullivan explained.

Ríccí Bester Adams is 805 Resistance’s social media volunteer. “I grew up around politics…I’m not a stranger to it,” Adams explained, “but I wanted to find my voice.” As a single mother and student, Adams found that being a part of 805 Resistance allowed her to manageably prioritize advocacy alongside her family, schoolwork, business and other responsibilities. “I’m there to help out the cause as best as I can…and I try to give as much as I can with what I know,” Adams said.

Created as a collaborative, Aaron sought to ensure the volunteer organization’s ability to represent marginalized voices. Currently, every member is a working mother, and many, like Aaron and Adams, are also college students, business owners or both. “Along with our personal lives and busy schedules we make the time for advocacy and community organizing,” Aaron explained. “This is why we continuously encourage people to get involved no matter what they have going on. It is possible to facilitate change when we all share the workload.”

805 Resistance is committed to maintaining this structure of shared responsibility. “We might have different ideas of how to achieve the same thing,” Sullivan said. “What’s really wonderful is we can come together and discuss those things, and figure out what path we want to take.”

Today, 805 Resistance stands proudly for their original goals. “We are anti-capitalism, anti-racist, and about community organizing and advocacy as well as education, “ Aaron emphasized. “We [want] to have tangible, tangible work being done.”

Advocacy Work

With 805 Resistance making its mark in the community, new events arose in the community, celebrating what they stand for. In 2021, 805 Resistance hosted the first ever Juneteenth event that has ever occurred in the Conejo Valley. “It was great, but I had mixed feelings. It’s always nice to be the first but it’s also kind of sad, you know, there are all these other groups and it has never had never been done,” Aaron said. “We got a great response from the community. A lot of people emailed and sent us messages about how meaningful [Juneteenth] was, and how they were just so happy that we did that in our community.”

805 Resistance also has made an impact within CVUSD, bringing forth an anti-hate resolution that has been implemented within the schools. “The one for the district is still watered down the same way we had to do with the city. But I think it has a couple of things that are a little bit more specific in terms of anti racism,” Aaron said.

Aaron also strives to educate students and people about what racism is and how it impacts the community. “Lots of people don’t understand White supremacy and what it is. They think it’s [about] burning flags on someone’s doorstep, and that is a piece of it, but I think one of the biggest ways we’ve been impactful is through the educational process is through having those difficult conversations and educating people,” Aaron said.

Currently, 805 Resistance has been working on a project within the school district as well. “We’re working on a proposal for…removing [School Resource Officers (SROs)] from schools because we really do believe that students deserve more care as opposed to punitive measures. Regardless of how great a SRO is, the system itself is designed to be punitive,” Sullivan said.

As a whole, the organization is trying to gear their attention to not only the major outward acts of racism, but also more of the minuscule things, especially within the systems in our community. “We are also concerned with the more subtle ways that racism and white supremacy is ingrained in our systems and the way that we carry ourselves,” Sullivan said.

In addition to these systems, a major goal of 805 Resistance is to incorporate more people of color. “Having more black and people of color and different ethnic groups, within governments, so they have a voice too. So I know, those are two key components that, you know, five is definitely behind, and such and just, you know, just having more cultural cultures represented within the community,” Adams said.

Getting Involved

805 Resistance’s future includes advocating and influencing people beyond Thousand Oaks. “One of the things that we have been talking about is to branch out. And when I say branch out I mean beyond Ventura County,” Aaron said. Currently, members of 805 Resistance are planning on expanding further into California, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Aaron is also focusing on working behind the scenes to collaborate with other like-minded organizations and more community based projects, especially surrounding the educational aspect. “To continue to grow as far as you know, doing more community based projects. We have a couple of workshops already put together,” Aaron said.

Sullivan explains what the future of 805 Resistance looks like to her. “Just to be in solidarity with the other folks in 805 Resistance and to work towards those goals. And, you know, we sometimes have, it’s great, because we can all share different ways of discussing those things,” Sullivan explained. “And we might have different ideas of how to achieve the same thing. And that’s what’s really wonderful is we can come together and discuss those things, and figure out what path we want to take”.

As more community projects happen in Thousand Oaks, members of 805 Resistance encourage students and peers to get involved. “It’s really making it a part of your daily life. It’s realizing how the things that we are trying to change have impacted our beliefs, our, the way we carry ourselves and trying to make it more of a daily practice,” Sullivan said.

805 Resistance is about supporting several marginalized groups that’s actively shown through the organization’s volunteers and staff. . “I really strongly feel there’s a space for everyone. You don’t have to be well versed in anti-racism. You have to have the desire to want to do something about it,” Aaron said.