Where We Live: Portlanders to march in Washington DC


The first March on Washington was on August 28, 1963

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On August 28, 1963, 250,000 people marched on Washington and demanded justice for African-Americans. It was where Martin Luther King Junior delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. On August 28 of this year, thousands will march on Washington again, and a special group of Portlanders will be there.

Joe “Bean” Keller, whose son, Deontae Keller, was shot and killed by Portland police. June 2020 (KOIN)

A quarter-million people demanded justice in 1963. In 2020, the death of George Floyd, and others, have Americans demanding justice once again. Portland’s Joe “Bean” Keller plans to be there.

“The movement is very serious to a lot of people, and very important,” said Keller.

A longtime Portland activist, Keller was part of KOIN 6 News’ recent town hall on race and justice. His son, Deontae Keller, was shot and killed by Portland police in 1996.

“But, then, when I thought about it, it was like, how can I go and represent my family, when there are other families that are here that need to be there as well,” said Keller.

So, Keller decided to attend the so-called “Commitment March” in Washington with other African-American families whose loved ones have been killed by police. They include close relatives of Kendra James, Aaron Campbell, and James Jahar Perez.

The Committment March is being organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

Left: Kendra James. Right: Aaron Campbell. Middle: James Jahar Perez.

“Our goal is to take a minimum of 20 families and represent Portland, Oregon,” said Keller. “The movement is just so strong, we cannot stay silent anymore. Enough is enough.”

The giant mural at Southwest 5th and Yamhill, and continuing protests show that Portlanders are hearing the message for change. A message that will reverberate near the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, just as it did in 1963.

Keller is still raising money to help defray the expenses of the families who are going to the March. You can find their GoFundMe campaign here.

Murals of those killed by Portland police are painted on boarded up storefronts in downtown Portland. June 2020 (KOIN)

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