PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The group leading the large Black Lives Matter marches that usually take place on Portland’s eastside abruptly canceled Wednesday night’s rally, citing behavior organizers “consider unacceptable, including silencing, neglecting feedback from our communities, especially our marginalized communities.”
Rose City Justice is a Black-led organization that has organized rallies and marches with hundreds, even thousands in attendance. However, tension has been building between the civil rights collective and those who protest nightly outside the Justice Center in downtown Portland.
While RCJ avoids characterizing the factions as peaceful vs. violent, its protests usually go undisturbed by police and don’t result in property damage like what Portlanders have become accustomed to downtown. That has led to criticism from protesters who frequent the Justice Center. They question why RCJ appears to keep crowds away from downtown.
RCJ announced the cancellation of Wednesday’s march on Instagram, saying in part, “We understand that there are marginalized black and black queer voices that have been actively silenced and that won’t be something we stand for.” The group says it is taking time to “re-gather ourselves” and plans to issue a statement Thursday morning. Organizers invited people to contact them with comments and questions.
“As a civil rights collective, we know that all voices need to be heard and this is the opportunity for us to practice what we preach,” the post read.
Some protesters didn’t get the memo in time, and showed up to Revolution Hall anyway.
Sandy 7th grader Dahlia McKay was heading to the Portland protests for the first time and said she was disappointed to learn they were canceled.
“So many people were trying to come out today and just exercise their right to protest and … just express the fact that what happened and is still happening is not okay and needs to be addressed,” McKay said.
Sophie Jarosh joins the RCJ protests three to four times a week, but was surprised to find the group missing Wednesday night. Jarosh plans to be back for the next march though, saying it’s a powerful feeling to walk alongside so many people fighting for change.
“We’re the generation that needs to change it,” Jarosh said.
Wednesday night’s protest outside the Justice Center drew a crowd of a couple hundred. It remained largely uneventful though, with no clashes between protesters and police that KOIN 6 News observed.