Sociologist to protesters: ‘What are you demanding?’

2020 Protests

Tuesday marked the 75th consecutive night of protests in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Protests in Portland have stretched on for 75 straight nights, leaving many wondering how much longer they will last.

Some nights lead to clashes between demonstrators and police while others stay relatively peaceful. About 200 people marched on Tuesday from Laurelhurst Park to the Penumbra Kelly Building in Southeast Portland. They listened to speakers for hours. Some shouted at officers but no arrests appeared to have been made and no tear gas choked the air.

But as the nightly events continue, many wonder what protesters now hope to gain.

“Many African Americans are wondering why certain people are still out protesting on our behalf when even we are saying, ‘What are you demanding?'” said Dr. Shirley Jackson, a professor of Black studies at Portland State University. “We asked for certain things, we are getting those things and what we would really like to do is see those things being implemented but there is concern the attention is being drawn away from the movement.”

Dr. Randy Blazak, sociologist and Chair of the Oregon Coalition Against Hate told KOIN 6 News that since federal officers left, it appears protesters have been largely policing themselves: putting out fires started by others and quell violent behavior.

But where do we go from here?

“What is going to have to happen is the movement to another phase of this conflict and that phase has to do with dialogue; that phase has to do with the actual expectations—hopes of the protesters are in terms of real, systemic change,” Blazak said.

“I want people to really think about what this really means in the grand scheme of Black lives. If we are talking about the continued protests in aiding Black lives, I am not quite sure how many African Americans are thinking that this is doing so, said Jackson.

Jackson says during era of COVID-19, other issues impacting African Americans including health issues, housing, job and employment security are being ignored.

“Ignoring those issues is really not helpful, it is actually detrimental to our health and our safety because Black Lives Matter certainly involves the police but it involves other things as well,” said Jackson.

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