WANT Ferguson Series: Portland Shows Solidarity with Ferguson Protests

By Xander Balwit

Catlin Gabel School, Catlin Speak

After the grand jury announcement on Nov. 24 that officer Darren Wilson would not be indicted for the killing of Michael Brown that took place in Ferguson, Miss. on Aug. 9, protests took place in 34 other states. Furious after hearing Wilson would not be indicted, over 2000 people and organizations took the the Portland streets on Nov. 25 to show solidarity with Ferguson and protest the verdict.

Portland’s own history is stained with similarly contested shootings like the ones that ended the lives of Aaron Campbell and Keaton Otis in 2010. Familiar with these names, and horrified of the ever growing list of names of children whose killings by white officers were avoidable, roughly a few thousand protesters gathered in front of Portland’s Justice Building on Nov. 25 before embarking on a march.

The Albina Ministerial Alliance, responsible for organizing the event, also asked several community leaders to speak to those gathered, and to address the decision made by the grand jury.

Baqi Coles, the president of Jefferson High School’s Black Student Union, delivered a speech that made the issue very tangible, saying, “I go to a school full of potential targets and I am one myself. But I cannot accept that this is just the way things are.”

Coles went on to say, “We need to keep fighting this broken system and then finally we might just have some peace. We rally, and we protest, yet I fear the list of our fallen brothers and sisters will still grow. I cannot accept that.”

Coles’ speech and another made by an African American student from PSU were particularly poignant because they represent the age, gender, and race that are profiled the most. However, their messages weren’t ones of resignation. They both implored every person of conscience to get involved in an organization that works to stop police violence against people of color.

The PSU student said, “You need to go out and join an organization that is working to justice. You go from rally to rally event to event, you go so often you think you are organizing something. We have to change that. Look at those cops back there on them horses. They are organized. I need you to engage tonight!”

The march dispersed after protesters had four minutes of silence. Each minute was for every hour that Brown laid dead in the streets of Ferguson. A smaller group of approximately 300 protesters crossed the Burnside Bridge before they got into an altercation with the police when they were blocking I-5 traffic. The police made seven arrests.During the march in downtown Portland, thousands of protesters cried out for justice, with calls of “Hands up! Don’t shoot.” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” The Portland police looked on dressed in their riot gear.

More marches have occurred across the United States, as well as Canada and England, while the unrest in Ferguson continues.

About Grace Masback

Grace Masback, 17, aspires to give voice to the voiceless and holds the modest ambition of becoming the voice of Gen Z. Frustrated by the dearth of impactful platforms for teen journalists, she founded WANT, a news, sports, and entertainment website that aggregates the best in high school journalism from school newspapers and teen bloggers around the world (www.wantnewsforteens.com).

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