The video of George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer, who knelt on Floyd’s neck while the handcuffed black man lay helpless on the ground began, circulating on social media after his death on May 25.
On May 25, Madeliene Smith called out Eugene on Facebook. She posted:
“I’m calling out EUGENE. ????????????????
We march for:
– women’s rights
– the lgbtq+ community
– the right to bare arms
– BUT NOT BLACK LIVES…
Where the FUCK is the equality, where the fuck is the support. I am so tired of the FAKE one love and love for everyone facade. I demand justice for the murder of my brothers and sister. I demand repercussions for these officers(murders) actions.”
By May 27, Smith, who identifies as biracial, had organized Eugene’s march for black lives. She tells Eugene Weekly of seeing her brother watch the video of Floyd’s killing, “I never want my brother to feel like that.”
The Black Lives Matter march is 1 pm Sunday, May 31. Protesters will gather at the Federal Courthouse building “to express outrage over the recent deaths of unarmed black people at the hands of white police officers,” according to the press release, which continues saying: “The march follows news of three recent acts of police brutality that led to the tragic deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.”
The march will conclude at Alton Baker Park. Speakers include NAACP President Ibrahim Coulibaly and state Sen. James Manning. An ASL interpreter will be present, the Smiths, who are co-organizing the rally, say.
The march had previously featured Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner as a speaker, but Spencer Smith announced on the rally’s Facebook event page that the organizers had rescinded the invitation, writing, in part, “After examining how we went about police involvement, we truly feel as though we made a mistake. And we’re sorry. We thought that a police presence would somehow legitimize this march and make performative/moderate activists more comfortable. We thought that police involvement could facilitate a dialogue between the grieving community of BIPOC/POC and law enforcement. After hearing countless stories of EPD involvement in police brutality, intimidation, and the general mistrust of the police, we realize we made a huge mistake.”
Spencer Smith tells EW of the march, “This is about African American rights and the black community. I do want this to dedicated to the black mind, body and spirit.”
Eric Richardson of the NAACP says it will be providing free COVID-19 masks, as will other donors.
Find more information on the rally on Facebook.