PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A protest was held in Northeast Portland by people who wanted to show their solidarity with residents of Ferguson, Missouri, on Thursday.
Organizer Jesse Sponberg posted on the #OpFerguson Facebook page that the rally at 5229 NE MLK — Vanport Square — was meant to support people across the country who have been victims of police brutality.
The organizers also wanted Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Police Chief Mike Reese to denounce the actions in Ferguson.
One of those in the crowd outside of the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct was Joe Bean Keller. His son, Deonte Keller, was just 20 when Joe says an officer shot Deonte in the back during a traffic stop. Joe said his son, who was unarmed at the time, died.
Joe said the shooting in Ferguson has brought his nightmare back to life again.
“I feel the pain. I know what they’re going through when you lose a child. My son was unarmed, too,” said Joe.
A vigil on Thursday at Pioneer Courthouse Square held a moment of silence for the slain, unarmed Missouri teen, Mike Brown.
“This is not a protest. This is not a rally. This is a peaceful gathering of friends,” the group’s page reads. “This vigil is for Mike Brown, Kendrec McDade, Victor Steen, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, Andy Lopez, John Crawford, Aaron Campbell, Keaton Otis, Kendra James, James Jahar Perez and all victims of police brutality.”
Following the gatherings at the Pioneer Courthouse Square and the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct, protesters continued to move through Northeast Portland. The group walked on streets, briefly interrupting traffic at some points on Northeast Martin Luther King Boulevard, chanting “Hands Up. Don’t Shoot.” The crowd appeared to disperse just before 9 p.m.
Another protest sponsored by the Oregon Black Museum is scheduled for Saturday. According to organizers, it will take place at Dawson Park in North Portland from 1 to 4 p.m.
Hales speaks out
As a society, we have consistently failed multiple groups of Americans, least of all, African Americans: that’s the message from Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.
This, after a group set to protest police brutality outside the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct Thursday afternoon, called on the mayor and PPB Chief Mike Reese to denounce the actions of police in Ferguson, Mo., and police brutality nationwide.
“No law-abiding people should ever have reason to fear the police,” Hales said.
“Yet we must honestly admit that, too often, this is not true for a wide swath of our community: people of color.”
Hales also said he is praying for Michael Brown, the young man shot in Ferguson, as well as Portland’s African American community.
What are Portland Police doing about it ?
Hales said the city is focusing on training PPB officers on appropriate use of force, and de-escalation. He said police are getting systemic inequality training, implicit bias, and cultural diversity training.
“I’ve made it a priority to join with many of my fellow mayors to focus on the lives of young black men in our community,” said Hales. As Police Commissioner, Hales undertook a training called “White Men as Full Diversity Partners” in July.
A spokesperson for Portland police said the bureau will always transparent with the public, especially in the aftermath of a police-involved shooting.
Rallies held across United States
Vigils have been held across the country for people who died at the hands of police.
People in more than 90 cities observed Thursday’s National Moment of Silence. The vigils come in the wake of the shooting death of an 18-year-old man by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, and the death of a New York City man caused by a police officer’s chokehold.
In New York, about a thousand people marched peacefully in Manhattan’s Union Square. In Nevada, about 40 people gathered outside the federal courthouse in Reno.
Rallies were also scheduled for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, near where Michael Brown was shot, and in Detroit and Los Angeles. People were asked to wear a red ribbon, cloth or bandanna in a show of solidarity.
Troopers take over in Ferguson
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon says the Missouri State Highway Patrol will take over the supervision of security in the St. Louis suburb that’s been the scene of violent protests since a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.
Nixon made the announcement at a news conference Thursday.
Nixon says security will be overseen by Capt. Ron Johnson of the Highway Patrol. Johnson, who is black, said he grew up in the community and “it means a lot to me personally that we break this cycle of violence.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.