Grand jury decisions protested in Gresham, PDX

Peaceful action held to protest Michael Brown, Eric Garner decisions

Demonstrators march down SE Stark St. in Gresham chanting "hands up, don't shoot" Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (Shasta Kearns Moore, the Portland Tribune)
Demonstrators march down SE Stark St. in Gresham chanting "hands up, don't shoot" Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014. (Shasta Kearns Moore, the Portland Tribune)

GRESHAM, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Dozens of demonstrators gathered in Gresham Wednesday night to protest grand jury decisions in both Missouri and New York not to indict officers involved in the deaths of unarmed African American men.

The group Don’t Shoot PDX gathered in Plaza Del Sol at 187th Ave. and Stark St. in Gresham at roughly 7:00 p.m. and wove its way in and out of Portland and Gresham, past the Gresham Police Station, even sitting in at a Citizen Review Committee meeting in SE Portland.

The action, which was remarkably peaceful in contrast to previous events in Portland following a grand jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, a Ferguson, Mo. police officer who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Dozens of demonstrators protesting grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York sit in on a Citizens Review Committee meeting in Portland. (Shasta Kearns Moore, the Portland Tribune)
Dozens of demonstrators protesting grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York sit in on a Citizens Review Committee meeting in Portland. (Shasta Kearns Moore, the Portland Tribune)

Earlier Wednesday, protests erupted around the country after a New York grand jury decided not to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choke hold death of Eric Garner, 43, recorded on a cellphone camera by a bystander.

Don’t Shoot PDX organizer Jesse Sponberg set the tone for the demonstration early.

“Watch, we’re just going to take a walk and it will be incredibly effective,” Sponberg said, the Portland Tribune’s Shasta Kearns Moore reports via Twitter. Demonstrators moved down SE Stark St. chanting a now-familiar anthem of “hands up, don’t shoot.”

Demonstrators in Gresham chant "Whose streets? Our streets" Dec. 3, 2014 during an action to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York. (KOIN 6/Chris Holmstrom)
Demonstrators in Gresham chant “Whose streets? Our streets” Dec. 3, 2014 during an action to protest grand jury decisions in Missouri and New York. (KOIN 6/Chris Holmstrom)

When the demonstration stopped in at the CRC meeting, protesters asked the 11 CRC volunteers if they felt frustrated with the current system, and they said no, Kearns Moore reports.

The group wound past the Rosewood Cafe, at one point blocking traffic near 181st Ave. and Stark St., then stopping outside the Rockwood Police station at NE 181st Ave. and NE Glisan to chant “Where is Darren Wilson.”

“I’ve heard from black mothers that the moment that their sons come of age, they get a little talker and their voices change, they have that fear and that’s not right,” said protester Jennifer Schafer.

“It starts with getting people organized and rallied and letting the public know what you think and what’s important,” said Nicholas Placeres.

Just after 9:00 p.m., the Gresham Police Department stated via Twitter the protest “looks like it’s winding down.”

According to a Facebook post now unavailable, a rally against the NY grand jury’s decision on the death of Eric Garner is planned for 6:00 p.m. Thursday at downtown Portland’s Justice Center.

Twitter user Persona Anonimo reported the protest ended before it reached the intersection at 181st Ave. and Burnside St., blocked off by police.

“#DontShootPDX ends event on its own terms,” @anonimozz Tweeted just after 9:00 p.m.

The Portland Tribune’s Shasta Kearns Moore contributed to this report.

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