Black Lives Matter group again draws foes; no arrests reported
PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- For the third time in recent weeks. Black Lives Matter protesters and counter-protesters faced off in downtown Prineville Saturday afternoon, lining up on opposite sides of Third Street, carrying signs and voicing their views. No arrests were reported.
Concrete barriers lined both sides of the street as a larger police presence, including Prineville and Bend officers, patrolled the street to maintain safety and keep things generally peaceful.
Counter-protesters told NewsChannel 21 they feel Prineville is a welcoming community, and they understand the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody should not have happened.
One woman told me she doesn’t know Prineville to be a community that does not welcome all people.
“I didn’t think we had a problem with that," said Pam Miller. "We have black families, Hispanic families -- we have all kinds of people in our community.
"All of a sudden, they're coming to our community, trying to make us believe that we don’t think black lives matter,” she said.
Siterra Magee and her father came out in support of law enforcement and the community of Prineville.
“Were a community," Magee said. "We go to church together, we go to restaurants together, we support our local businesses. And for them to come here and protest as if we're racist, as if we’re not allowing people to come into our community, is where it's wrong. We want them to know they’re welcome here, but do not ruin our morals.”
Former Prineville mayor Betty Roppe stood side by side with BLM protesters, and she shared with me that she feels everyone has a right to exercise their freedom of speech.
“Personally, I want equality for all," Roppe said. "So I am more than happy to have them here. The protesters across the street from us, across from these people, I think they have a right to their speech, too. I don’t want to see it get violent. I think it needs to be peaceful, and everyone needs to obey the law.”
No arrests were made this week, unlike the four that occurred last Saturday, and while there were some intense arguments, there was considerably less agitation than seen previously.
Many people both in support of Black Lives Matter and against it exercised their right to openly carry firearms.
Redmond resident Kevin Payne said he brought his gun to help keep the peace.
“I know people on both sides that are protesting for the Black Lives Matter, and I know people over here that are counter-protesting," Payne said. "My main job is to just keep the peace and make sure everyone gets along. Hugs, smiles, handshakes -- try to keep the yelling down, try to keep the violence down.”
Overall, the message that many in both groups can agree on "is that what happened to George Floyd was horrible, horrible. It should have never happened," said Jamie Williams.