Saturday, November 28, 2015

Black Lives Matter Protesters March Through Lloyd Center Mall; Black Friday Shoppers Join In
A crowd of several hundred people rallied Friday at Holladay Park, marched through the streets of northeast Portland and then paraded through the Lloyd Center mall during a Black Lives Matter demonstration.

Portland police say no arrests were made during the all-afternoon protest, where people of all ages carried signs and banners and chanted "black lives matter, not Black Friday," "No justice, no peace, no racist police", "hands up, don't shoot" and other phrases. Three people wearing masks and carrying replica firearms were spotted inside the mall before the crowd went inside and were taken into custody, police said. It is not clear if the masked trio participated in the demonstration.

Members of Don't Shoot PDX, which organized the event, estimated 300 to 400 people gathered at Holladay Park at 1 p.m. and that more joined after they entered the mall around 4 p.m. Protesters chanted as they went through the first, second and third levels of the mall.

Dozens of shoppers took pictures and videos with their cellphones as the crowd walked through Macy's, stopped briefly at the ice skating rink on the first floor and went up and down escalators. Several shoppers joined the protesters and stood silently with their hands in the air, a gesture that has become synonymous with nationwide demonstrations protesting fatal police shootings of people of color.

"We're here to remind people that there are real issues going on besides sales in stores," said Micah Rhodes, 22, a member of Don't Shoot PDX. "We knew that if we came together during one of the biggest shopping days of the year, it would be hard to ignore us all."

Friday's protest comes on the heels of similar demonstrations in Chicago in response to the deaths of a 17-year-old black teen shot 16 times by a white police officer and a 24-year-old black man fatally shot by police in Minneapolis. The crowd gathered in Holladay Park chanted the name of the Chicago teen, Laquan McDonald, as well as those of other people who have died following police encounters, including Freddy Gray, Michael Brown and Aaron Campbell.

Several people spoke to the crowd in the park and said the deaths illustrate sustained racism and mistreatment of black people in Portland and nationwide.

One speaker called for the resignation or firing of Portland Police Officer John Hurlman, a 24-year bureau veteran who lamented the protest earlier this week in a tweet that said he had to work late "to babysit these fools."

Hurlman deleted the message, was taken off patrol duty and is the subject of an internal investigation, according to Portland police.

Saying "black lives matter" doesn't mean one person's life is more valuable than another, said Deborah Hodges, a Portland woman who spoke at the protest. Rather, the phrase calls attention to the injustices that black people face.

"Black people are being mowed down, our civil rights are being trampled on," Hodges, 65, said to the crowd. "We're not trying to put anybody down, but we all need to be aware that this is happening. And if it can happen to me and other black people, then it can happen to you."

Three men arrived during the start of the demonstration in Holladay Park in apparent opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement. They wore sandwich boards that read "Repend or Perish", "Turn or burn in hell" and "Judgement is coming". They called the crowd hypocrites and claimed the police shooting victims wanted to be killed.

"Thank God for gentrification," one of the men yelled into a megaphone. "Someone had to clean up the neighborhood."

The crowd drowned the trio with chants of "black lives matter" and formed a large circle around people speaking to the crowd to put distance between them and the picketers. The majority of the crowd ignored the trio.

The three men left before the march around Northeast Portland, but returned later for a brief time.

The crowd stymied traffic in several locations as they marched down Northeast Multnomah Street, Broadway Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Thompson Street and other roadways on their way to and from Holladay Park.

At one point, the crowd sat down in the middle of Northeast Tillamook Street and North Williams Street as police in riot gear blocked their path from continuing south on Williams Street.

-- Everton Bailey Jr.
503-221-8343; @EvertonBailey

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