PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A rally billed as “Oregonians for Peace” drew a couple hundred people to Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park Sunday afternoon. Attendees sat on lawn chairs and blankets, listening to music and speakers. Many donned t-shirts bearing an outline of the state of Oregon around the word “Peace.”
The event was hosted by Eric Post, who made waves on July 4 when he placed an American flag on the base of the former elk statue in downtown Portland. Within 15 minutes someone lit it on fire, he said. Post, who works as a consultant, has garnered a Facebook following of more than 70,000 people. He describes himself as opposing racism and police brutality, but he also said the riots must end.
“I look around and what I see are people that are here for one cause. And I hope that’s peace,” Post greeted the crowd. He also asked the crowd to hold a moment of silence for people who have died or been victims of violence during the unrest, no matter what “side” they’re on (writing on Facebook just before the event, Post also cited a protester in Portland who was severely injured Saturday night after being struck with a “less-lethal” round as one of the reasons he was calling for a moment of silence).
Several other speakers took the mic, including Raeona Amadi, who confronted protesters June 30 during a riot near the Portland Police Association building. Amadi spoke about her experience that night and what it’s been like to gain a voice, comparing it to passing a baton.
“I want you guys to take that baton today and pass it to someone else,” she said. “You gotta be right on time. Which means that you gotta go when you feel uncomfortable.”
Post also invited preacher and activist Deshawn Hardy to share the stage. The two met at a Black Lives Matter rally in Happy Valley, organized by Hardy’s daughter. The two will readily admit they don’t agree on everything, but say they both connected over the need for peace.
“I’m un-apologetically a Black man,” Hardy said. “But I also know that it takes all of us, working together in brotherly love, to improve the quality of life for all.”
“I don’t hate the police. I hate the police brutality,” Hardy said.
The event went largely undisturbed by counter protesters. One person yelled while walking through the group, but it only lasted about 20 seconds. A larger group arrived later, and Hardy went to converse with them after the event ended, a mostly cordial affair.