▶️ As protests turn to riots nationwide, local groups rally peacefully

By ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS

Once peaceful protests across the country have turned violent in the days since a Minneapolis Police officer killed African-American George Floyd.

Law enforcement agencies across Central Oregon have condemned the actions of the officers involved.

“When we see another black man on the ground saying, ‘I need breath, I can’t breathe’, and he dies in the hands of police, for good police officers who really believe in equity, believe in inclusion, all of the good work we do we see evaporate in a heartbeat when something happens 1000 miles away from us,” Bend Police Chief Jim Porter said.

Organizers and attendees say the more than two-hour-long protest in Bend Saturday was, for the most part, a peaceful one.

“I had over a thousand people show up and peacefully make our point, make our statement well known and what we’re about,” Bend Black Lives Matter rally organizer Adriana Aquarius said.

“That is one of the reasons why I love living in Bend,” said Porter. “We need to be in the Listen Mode now. In the past, we’ve always been able to say, ‘900,000 police officers go to work every day, let’s remember their good work. But right now, that just rings hollow.”

But according to organizers, a similar rally that took place in Prineville just 24 hours later wasn’t as well received.

“We got a lot of racial slurs, things thrown at us, they tried to instigate fights,” said Prineville Black Lives Matter organizer Josie Stanfield. “My friend got lassoed!”

Prineville Chief of Police Dale Cummins said that, while tensions were high at times during the rally, it remained relatively peaceful and he didn’t see objects thrown at Black Lives Matter protestors.

“The organizers from the Black Lives Matter group were very intent on assisting to keep it peaceful,” Cummins said.

Stanfield and Aquarius say they hope to set an example for other protestors, and continue to bring people together.

“I think it’s very important to know that when we say Black Lives Matter, we’re not saying that nobody else matters we’re saying that right now black lives are on fire,” said Aquarius. “We’re extinguishing that fire and then moving on to all the other races that are being mistreated.”

“For all of us to be able to have our voices heard and to be together and to wake up today having allies now, black and white, is amazing,” Stanfield said.

Another rally is scheduled for tomorrow at noon at McMenamins in Bend.

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