PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Don’t Shoot Portland’s Spring Break Out panel series is working to educate young people during their week off of school.
The panels are intended to inspire young activists to push for change in their communities. Don’t Shoot Portland has hosted Spring Break Out for several years. Usually, the events take place in person, but due to the pandemic, the organization is inviting young people to participate in a series of panels streaming on YouTube.
“This virtual panel, it gives us a lot more space to do less work, but with more output. I think the things that are coming out of it are just so amazing and extraordinary. It’s heavy and it’s on point,” said Teressa Raiford, executive director and founder of Don’t Shoot Portland.
The virtual panels began Monday, March 22 and will continue through Friday, March 26.
On Tuesday they discussed what mutual aid is and the various ways it was used during the pandemic. Mutual aid is voluntarily exchanging services and resources for mutual benefit.
“For me, mutual aid is like so much more than just an organizing theory. It’s just like the concept that we can take care of each other and we don’t need one, to ask for permission, and two, to ask the government for permission,” said Barak Goodman, an activist and panelist.
The group of panelists pointed out several examples of ways mutual aid was used during the pandemic, including things like the PDX Free Fridge project, Meals 4 Heels, and the ways people supported each other through GoFundMe and by sending donations on Venmo and Cash App.
They also talked about how mutual aid supported demonstrators during the protests over the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery.
“I view mutual aid as like the backbone of the movement,” said Joseph Blake, a Portland photographer and documenter who participated in Tuesday’s panel. “It’s something that we kind of often overlook but without it, a lot of us would not be able to be on the front lines.”
Blake gave the example of when he was at a protest in downtown Portland and was tear gassed for the first time. He said he couldn’t see anything, but people quickly jumped in, helped him sit down, rinsed out his eyes, and made sure he was alright.
On Monday, the panel discussed “How to Use Your Voice.” In the coming days, they’ll cover “Know Your Rights,” “Promoting a Rally,” and “Art is for Social Change.”
Raiford says in 2020, she saw the role youth played in encouraging activism in their communities and hopes these discussions will give them the knowledge, tools, and courage they need to continue speaking out.
“I think that starting young, being conscious and aware of what’s happening in your community and how you can facilitate change… I think that’s an important strategy to be focused on,” she said.
She says throughout history, young people have contributed greatly to social movements. She says youth will inherit the burden of racial injustice and they need to be prepared.
The final three Spring Break Out panels will take place on Don’t Shoot Portland’s YouTube page at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. The two previous panels are also available to watch on YouTube.
The panelists include Raiford, her daughter Tai Carpenter, Chicago-based artist Cori Salter, Portland photographer and documenter Joseph Blake, Miss Black Teen Oregon International Ambassador 2020 Arieanna Morehead, visual artist Samuel Eisen-Meyers, artist Xochilt Ruvalcaba, Sacramento-based activist Tianna Arata, and Portland activists Barak Goodman, Jacinda Padilla, and Danny Cage.