A look back at a month of protests against systemic racism, racial injustice
Here are links to stories and video from protests that occurred in June 2020.
• Hundreds gather in Lebanon on June 14 for Black Lives Matter Demonstration
• More than 1,000 people lined Ellsworth Street in downtown Albany on June 2 to peacefully protest.
• Miriam Cummins, Democratic candidate for House District 15 State Representative, speaks June 6 at a protest at the State Capitol in Salem.
• Some 2,000 gathered in downtown Corvallis on May 31.
• An estimated 4,000 demonstrated June 7 in downtown Corvallis.
Also, Rosa Colquitt, Ph.D, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon's Black Caucus, wrote a message May 29 on Facebook, titled "George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and all who came before" And Rosa wrote "Juneteenth: Celebration of Freedom."
And see comments by Sen. Jeff Merkley, Congressman Peter DeFazio and State Rep. Marty Wilde.
And for more reading, see the "21-Day Racial Equity Challenge," by Dr. Eddie Moore
DeFazio: DACA decision is important, but temporary
June 20, 2020
By Rep. Peter DeFazio
From day one, the Trump administration has toyed with the lives of 650,000 DREAMers (10,000 in the state of Oregon) – undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children – breaking promises, demeaning character, attacking integrity, and threatening their livelihoods and their homes.DREAMers pitch in Little Leagues, go to prom, march in Fourth of July parades, raise families, and serve in the military. They are contributing members of every community. And nearly 30,000 DREAMers work in front-line health care jobs, fighting COVID.
None of that matters to Donald Trump.
I am proud of my longstanding support of DREAMers, I voted in favor of the DREAM Act back when it was first introduced in 2001, and I've been a cosponsor on every bill since. Congress has the power to stop Trump's cruelty by passing the DREAM Act. In fact, the House has already passed it, but Mitch McConnell refuses to let the Senate vote on it.
That's vile, Add your name to tell Senate Republicans to protect DREAMers now!
This week, the Supreme Court delivered a win for the rule of law and human decency by ruling that Donald Trump can't end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program – which protects DREAMers from deportation – just because he feels like it.
That's a big victory, Graham, but it's just temporary. Trump and his secretary of racism, Stephen Miller, have made it clear that they will never stop attacking immigrants and undocumented Americans. They're no doubt already planning their next assault on DREAMers.
Ending DACA is wholly immoral and cruel. Congress must pass the DREAM Act to stop Trump and protect the 650,000 American DREAMers once and for all.
Sign the petition now to tell Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans, "Do the right thing. Protect our DREAMers!"
Democrats approve Black Lives Matter resolutions
PORTLAND — The Democratic Party of Oregon State Central Committee, the Party’s governing body, unanimously approved two resolutions yesterday in response to worldwide demonstrations against misconduct by law enforcement and the systemic oppression of Black Americans.
“These resolutions are important because it matters that the Democratic Party speaks out against the killing of George Floyd and stands with African Americans, who live in a society where for far too long our lives are viewed as less valuable," said said Oregon DNC Member Travis Nelson, RN. "I am extremely proud and happy that the Democratic Party of Oregon passed these resolutions unanimously and we are unapologetically acknowledging this Juneteenth that BLACK LIVES MATTER,”
Nelson wrote the resolutions in consultation with Black elected officials and many Black State Party leaders, including DPO Black Caucus Chair Rosa Colquitt, PhD, Multnomah County Democrats Vice Chair Rachelle Dixon, Shelaswau Crier, and Quinton Blanton.
The following resolutions passed Thursday:
• Resolution 2020-009: DECLARING THAT BLACK LIVES MATTER
• Resolution 2020-010: DEMANDING JUSTICE & HONORING THE LEGACY OF GEORGE FLOYD
The passage of these resolutions coincides with today’s commemoration of Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the former Confederacy, two years after the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation.
“Among all emancipation celebrations, we are reminded that June 19th falls closest to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those states shadowed by slavery,” said Colquitt. “By choosing to remember the last state in the South that freedom touched, we celebrate the shining ‘promise of emancipation’.”
For those who may want a fuller understanding of what Juneteenth means, you can read more here at the Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus' page.
Juneteenth: A celebration of freedom
By Rosa Colquitt
"While Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, Juneteenth 2020 is bittersweet. The recent events of 2020, the witnessing of the wrongful deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, is crushing our spirits and reminding us of the stark reality that the fight for racial justice, equality and freedom for BLACK LIVES continues."
Juneteenth, (“June” plus “nineteenth”) sometimes called “Jubilee,” indicating the year of freedom from enslavement, or even more simply “Freedom Day,” is indeed a remarkable story commemorating the abolition of slavery in the United States.
It was June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, with official news that the Civil War had ended and the enslaved were now free. Granger read General Order Number 3 as follows:
"The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer."
Amazingly, even in an era of slow communication and a nation at war, Granger was very late with important news of freedom — almost two and a half years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery in the Confederacy, at least on paper.
In knowing the dehumanization of even one day of enslavement, I’ve looked for any historical explanations for the delay in delivering and enforcing the Emancipation Proclamation. One version of the story of "freedom delayed, freedom denied" was the tale of the messenger who was murdered on the way to Texas with the news. Another is that the official proclamation was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the "free labor" force on their plantations. And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas. Whether all or none of these versions are true, slavery in Texas remained status quo well beyond what was statutory.
My mind can scarcely imagine the depths of the emotions and the fear of the unknown for the "newly freed" Black men, women and children of Texas. Yet, it is within this historical backdrop of delay, confusion and terror that we have the beginnings of one of the most inspiring grassroots efforts of the post-Civil War period — the transformation of June 19 from a day of new freedom into an annual rite called “Juneteenth.”
Today, more than 154 years later, Juneteenth-centered activities are experiencing phenomenal growth and flourishing within communities and organizations throughout the country. The freedom celebrations highlight the tradition of bringing in guest speakers and the elders of the community to recount historical events of the past. Newer Juneteenth traditions focus on education and self-improvement, along with future community development, while cultivating knowledge and appreciation of African American history and culture.
What many Americans remember most about Juneteenth is that it is always a joyful celebration of entertaining the masses with parades, musical entertainment, dance, games, and always food — an abundance of wonderfully prepared food. In Portland, Oregon, Juneteenth is combined with "Good in the Hood" for an unforgettable annual community celebration of young and old, family, friends, organizations, and business vendors from every corner of the state, along with southwest Washington, and reflects all of our diverse racial and ethnic groups. For sure, no matter how large the gatherings at "Good in the Hood," I always make my way from vendor to vendor until I have my soul food dinner of corn bread, black-eyed peas, collard greens and bar-b-que, and I always bring my own bottle of red soda water, just in case they don’t have it. One can’t quite celebrate Juneteenth without this original Texas tradition (and, unless I forget, there’s always a bottle of hot sauce in my purse).
Among all emancipation celebrations, we are reminded that June 19th falls closest to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year when the sun, at its zenith, defies the darkness in every state, including those states shadowed by slavery. By choosing to remember the last state in the South that freedom touched, we celebrate the shining "promise of emancipation."
Still, we can never ignore or forget the bloody path America took by delaying freedom and deferring the fulfillment of the simple words in General Granger’s General Order Number 3: "This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves."
While Juneteenth is a celebration of freedom, Juneteenth 2020 is bittersweet. The recent events of 2020, the witnessing of the wrongful deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks, is crushing our spirits and reminding us of the stark reality that the fight for racial justice, equality and freedom for BLACK LIVES continues.
The recent and unanimous votes to pass resolutions declaring that BLACK LIVES MATTER and demanding JUSTICE for and honoring the life of GEORGE FLOYD by our State Central Committee can give us hope that our cries to breathe are being heard.
Rosa Colquitt, PhD
Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus
Huge win for LGBTQ+ rights
As an LGBTQ+ American, as an activist who battled the insidious Oregon anti-gay ballot initiatives of the 1990's, and as the Democratic Party of Oregon's first out lesbian chair, I can barely scratch the surface in describing my joy at this morning's historic Supreme Court decision.
The stunning 6-3 ruling declares that LGBTQ+ workers are protected by federal anti-discrimination laws. This dramatically changes the status quo for millions of Americans — over half the states have no non-discrimination law that applies to LGBTQ+ workers. (Oregon passed protections in 2007.)
This is a HUGE victory for LGBTQ+ equality. This decision affirms that in America, you can no longer be fired or denied a job simply because of who you love or how you identify.
But even with this win, there is still more work to be done, including passing H.R. 5: The Equality Act, which would provide clear, comprehensive non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people across the country in all areas of the law. That bill passed out of the House more than a year ago, and has been sitting in Mitch McConnell's Senate ever since.
For Democrats, it was obvious that anti-discrimination laws apply to the LGBTQ+ community. Justice had been delayed and denied for far too long for many Americans, especially Aimee Stephens and Donald Zarda, two plaintiffs in today's cases who passed away as it was moving through the courts. But this ruling was far from assured, and that it was decided with a 6-3 majority was surprising news in and of itself.
Whether or not ALL Americans can enjoy full equality under the law shouldn't be a question of whether a Republican-appointed Justice decides to rule in favor of civil rights. And the only way to avoid that question entirely is with a Democrat in the White House and with the Senate in Democratic hands, ready to appoint Justices who will protect and uphold civil rights for ALL Americans.
This ruling is cause for celebration, but the work is far from over. If you're able, will you help elect Democrats up and down the ballot this fall by making a donation today?
"There is no room in this world for discrimination or racism," said Gerald Bostock, lead plaintiff in one of the cases.
As Democrats, we will keep pushing on that arc of justice for all Americans and all Oregonians.
Democratic Party of Oregon
Merkley, Booker introduce police misconduct database legislation
June 7, 2020
By Sen. Jeff Merkley
Black Lives Matter.The fact that this statement needs to be said, that this movement needs to exist, speaks volumes about our country.
We are in the midst of a new civil rights movement because more than half a century after courageous patriots shamed America into outlawing Jim Crow, legal discrimination and racism continue to define America's institutions. Black men, women, and children's lives are still regularly taken from us by police officers.
I am inspired by the strength, courage, and perseverance of today's patriots who are marching and protesting to force America to look in the mirror. I join them in saying Black Lives Matter. I join them in saying their names: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Philando Castille, Michael Brown, and far too many others.
I also recognize that I have been given the responsibility and opportunity to do more.
It is not enough to simply say, "Black Lives Matter." Our laws must ensure that Black lives actually matter; and when those lives are attacked or taken, that those responsible are held accountable. We must bend toward justice.
On Friday, I proposed legislation—which I'll be joining Senator Cory Booker to introduce—that will create a national database for police misconduct.
When a police officer loses their job due to excessive violence, racial bias, or other misconduct, they should not be able to quietly slip away and find a new job in another town down the road or across the country. When cities and counties (and universities and private security companies) hire police, they should be able to find out if those they're hiring have engaged in misconduct.
This is only a start.
We must also ban chokeholds and other oxygen-depriving tactics nationwide, and identify them as civil rights violations. We must engage in nationwide data collection to determine how often and against whom force—whether justified or unjustified—is used. We must require civilian oversight. We must end no-knock warrants. We must end the transfer of battlefield armaments to civilian police agencies. We must end qualified immunity for police officers who engage in bad behavior. We must outlaw racial profiling and build systems to ensure it actually stops.
Even this long list is only a start. We must do more.
To all those marching in the streets, to all those demanding change from home, to all those contributing to this cause in every way they can, I say this:
I see you. I hear you. I am with you.
As a United States Senator, I have the extraordinary privilege to work every day to change our laws. But I also recognize that I owe an enormous debt to you, Graham, and so many others who helped put me in this position so that I can do this work.
And I—and all of us—owe an enormous debt to all those who are building this movement, championing these ideas, and—far too often—sacrificing their bodies for this cause.
We cannot fix racism overnight. We cannot end the misuse of violence by police overnight.
But that does not mean that we cannot try. We must take action, and we must start now.
We, the People, will build a more perfect union. We will bend toward justice.
Statement from Democratic Party of Oregon