Eugene and Springfield residents of all ages took the street of Downtown Eugene today during rush hour for a peaceful rally for the Movement for Black Lives.
Springfield/Eugene Showing Up for Racial Justice and the Community Alliance of Lane County host the event in order to honor the black lives that have been lost due to police brutality and to raise awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement. The march is meant to echo the call for #FreedomNow from National SURJ.
“No one is free, until our black neighbors, colleagues, friends and family members have dignity, justice and respect,” said Promise Partner, one of the organizers, through a megaphone, “Freedom now! Black Lives Matter!”
One speaker called out names of the lost lives before the march – Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice – the crowd of 200 people responded, “Black Lives Matter!”
Eugene resident Betty Grant said she’s grateful the SURJ put together such event. Grant said she wasn’t aware of SURJ prior to the rally.
“It’s important that we show our support at such event like this,” Grant said. “I have been meaning to get involved with some organizations that talk about race and try to make a difference.”
Members of campus also showed up at the march to support the movement. UO employee Polly Moak said she didn’t get to go the rally on campus two weeks ago, but she shared this event on her Facebook page, hoping more people will get involved.
The crowd then marched through downtown with numerous cars honking at them in support. They stopped at Kesey Square to allow more speakers to speak.
UO Academic Advisor Christina Jackson was one of them. She read a poem, named “Him” amid the cheering of the crowd.
“They will take his name and number him
Do the same thing to the son of him
Did the same thing to the father of him.”
UO student Tarik Richardson also spoke in front of the crowd, criticizing the white superior system.
“When Trayvon [Martin] was murdered last year, I saw [my friend] staying up late, making a sign that said, ‘Justice for blank.’ He said, ‘the blank is because I’m going to use this sign for next year.’ And sure enough, next year, I saw him with the same sign,” Richardson said.
The rally didn’t meet any major opposition or turn violent, although police were nearby at all times. SURJ urged marchers to stay in touch with the organization for future events.