PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Raeona Amadi was on her way home when her cousins warned her protesters were in the area. Instead of avoiding the crowd and continuing on her way, though, Amadi headed straight for the mayhem. She was determined to make her voice heard.
“Enough is enough,” Amadi told KOIN 6 News. “Because the unfortunate part about it is with them rioting and then saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it really takes away from the whole fundamentals of Black Lives Matter and what it stands for.”
Night after night, Amadi and other lifelong Portland residents have watched demonstrations against police and for the Black Lives Matter movement. Many of the protests have been peaceful, but others have resulted in widespread property damage, fires, and violence.
A few hundred people marched to the Portland Police Association building on North Lombard Street the night of June 30. The Portland Police Bureau soon declared the group and unlawful assembly, then a riot, using tear gas and arresting multiple people.
“Tell me how throwing is going to stop them from shooting another one,” Amadi berated one protester in a video captured by KOIN 6 News that night. Minutes later, she could be seen walking between a line of police and protesters.
Amadi said the video gave her chills.
“You can see the emotion,” she said. “And on the other end you can see the (protester) like, ‘Whoah. Who is she and where did she come from and what did I do to piss her off?'”
Amadi is known among friends and family for being the kind of woman who always speaks her mind, but she says she felt terrified that night.
“I was unsure if they were gonna bust open my window by accident or on purpose,” she said. “And they weren’t nice out there during that riot.”
Amadi said rioters were angry at her for accusing them of corrupting the message that Black lives matter.
“Right now they’re not protests. They’re pure riots,” she said, adding that systemic racism won’t be solved by tearing a statue down or burning buildings on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Amadi hopes more people will stand up against the rioting, while also letting police know that they will be held accountable for misconduct.
She also hopes to bridge the divide between police and the communities they serve. Amadi is still in the early stages of starting a non-profit called Empowering People By Holding Hands and plans to have police involved in some capacity.
As for the demonstrators, Amadi says she is thankful for those who “came out to protest with a genuine heart.” But now she would like to see them turn that into productive activity, whether it’s through volunteering, donating to charity, or their everyday interactions.
“Show that Black lives matter through your actions and not by holding up your fist and saying it with your mouth and tearing up stuff,” she said. “Show us what a true protest looks like.”