By TED TAYLOR
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
More than 1,000 people rallied in downtown Bend Tuesday afternoon protesting police brutality in a show of solidarity against the deaths of George Floyd and countless other people of color across America.
With chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “George Floyd,” the protestors initially lined Bond Street from the Bend-La Pine Schools Administration Building to Franklin Avenue as car horns honked in support.
Around 12:30, a group of mostly young people went on the move down Bond Street to Oregon Avenue and toward The Pine Tavern, setting up on the four corners of Oregon and Wall while still more gathered at Greenwood and Wall.
Later, the group made their way to the front of the Deschutes County Justice Building.
Police presence was virtually non-existent save for a few officers milling among the crowd and a patrol car driving down Bond Street shortly after the rally started.
Bend Police Chief Jim Porter was there, mostly talking with members of the group and, at times, helping direct traffic when it got congested.
“Today’s rally was exceptionally peaceful,” Porter said later. “We cited one person for careless driving for nearly striking a person in a crosswalk. Drivers were very patient with the protesters. Thank you to everyone for keeping it peaceful.”
Porter estimated as many as 1,300 people were part of the rally.
The Bend rally was in stark contrast to many of the protests-turned-riots we’ve seen across the country following Floyd’s death last week in Minneapolis.
He died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on him during an arrest, pressing on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes – even after Floyd had stopped moving.
All four officers involved in the arrest were fired and Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Some in the crowd held signs saying “I can’t breathe,” in reference to some of the last words Floyd spoke as his neck was pinned under the officer’s knee.
“Today’s rally was exceptionally peaceful.”
– Bend Police Chief Jim Porter
Meanwhile, as Central Oregon Daily News Director Matt McDonald live-streamed the event on station’s Facebook page, members of the community at home chimed in.
Many were supportive of the peaceful protests while others questioned why only black lives mattered. Some wondered why nobody was at work and others blamed the media for the racial undertones of the protests nationwide. Several people were convinced the crowd featured protestors brought in from out of town.
The event seemed to bring into focus the social and racial divide in our own community as hundreds of comments poured in.Featured image size template (no background)
One protestor grabbed a Trump flag from a Jeep driving by, but someone in the car behind calmly got out to retrieve it while a handful of people yelled in his direction.
Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel stood across the street from McMenamins taking in the scene, saying he was proud to be there and proud of the community “standing up for their rights.”
“We’re fortunate enough to have good police in this community, but we can’t get complacent,” he said. “We have to say everyone in this community who interacts with law enforcement…they’re valuable, they’re special, they deserve to be treated with respect that’s inherent in them.”
While social distancing went out the window during the rally, many there were wearing masks. Organizers even handed out water, masks and had hand sanitizer available.
The rally started at noon, but started to die down around 1:30.
Central Oregon Daily’s Meghan Glova was on the scene as well and will have a full report tonight at 5 p.m.