Rally, march have familiar message: 'Black Lives Matter'
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Nearly 1,000 people from across Central Oregon gathered in downtown Bend Tuesday afternoon to rally, march and demonstrate solidarity in protest of the death of George Floyd, and to speak out against the many lives lost to police brutality.
The "Black Lives Matter" protest started around noon at Bond Street and Franklin Avenue but quickly moved around the downtown area as the crowd grew larger. Signs, T-shirts and paintings were on display as many chanted, "Black Lives Matter," "Silence is Violence" and "No Justice, No Peace."
NewsChannel 21 spoke with one of the organizers of the event, Jade Jager, who said: “Everyone should be treated equal, and the death of George Floyd is just one of many acts of police brutality. It is not okay, it is not okay for police to be out killing people, it's not okay to discriminate because of the color of someone’s skin.”
The protesters told NewsChannel 21 the focus of Tuesday's rally, the second downtown in four days, was to create allies and open the conversation to acknowledge the plight and struggles of black people and other communities of color.
Protester Maya Hopwood said, "It's super-amazing to know that we have all these allies and all these people that hear us. people are finally realizing that black lives do matter.
Grace Rivers said this was her opportunity to use her white privilege to help communities of color.
“It’s very important -- they haven’t been acknowledged their entire existence in the United States, and it’s actually a crime," she said. "It important that we are out here. I’ve never seen anything like this here in Bend and it's absolutely incredible.”
Fred Kent, who moved to Bend in 2003, shared that racism in Bend for him has been less overt and more systemic. He said this community has mostly supported him and his family, but he shared that the death of George Floyd affected him deeply.
“I was mad, angry and sad at the same time," Kent said. "It's frustrating that this type of thing keeps happening over and over again.”
Maxwell Friedman, another young man who grew up here in Central Oregon, said Floyd's death in Minneapolis police custody worried him for his future and how he is viewed as a black man.
“I’m worried that all of that can be reduced to one word, and that is ‘criminal’," Friedman said. "I am not a criminal -- a lot of us, all of us are not criminals. We’re criminals in the eyes of a lot of police officers, and honestly, that scares me. The murder of George Floyd, an innocent unarmed black man terrified me.”
As protesters marched, the crowd became a little rowdy as Trump supporters drove by with flags on the back of trucks. With raised voices, some protesters approached vehicles and removed the flags from some vehicles.
Bend police Lt. Juli McConkey said despite the relatively minor moments of agitation, the protest was exceptionally peaceful. She said one person was cited for nearly striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk.