A POC participant’s narrative on the George Floyd protest in Eugene 5/29/20

This anonymous action report was submitted to NAC for publication. NAC did not organize this protest and we do not have a collective stance on the events of the 29th.
The voices of those involved in controversial events and their reasons for action are often lost in the discussion because they cannot share them without repercussions. We are providing a platform so those directly involved can share their perspectives. 

[Submitters note: a printed copy of this was handed to me at the large march on Sunday, May 31st. I’m submitting it here because I think it’s an important narrative, I hope the original author is okay with that. I don’t know whether this matters since the report is anonymous to begin with, but I figured I’d mention it.]

A POC participant’s narrative on the George Floyd protest in Eugene 5/29/20.

I’ve read many sources describing the protest as a “riot,” an “unruly mob,” or a bunch of white people coopting a POC cause. As a person of color (POC) who participated in the protest, I feel that it’s important to circulate my thoughts, rather that to allow the criticisms, narratives, or assumptions of others dominate the conversation.

I was relieved to be informed that people would coming together Friday night to denounce the murder of George Floyd instead of waiting until Sunday. The anger I felt over this murder could not wait for the proper approval of the city, and for liberal white women in Eugene who typically dominate the protests in this town to be ready to protest. While the rest of the country was responding, Eugene was waiting, and as a person of color in this majority white town, I was once again being reminded of how this town cannot relate to the passion and struggles of POC.

But for once, passion literally propelled people to take to the streets in true solidarity. It’s what was needed to be heard. Remaining at the courthouse corner, unseen, and unheard, would have challenged nothing. The rest of the town would’ve gone about their evening as if it were any other.

We marched through the streets shouting, “No justice, no peace.” We invited people who cheered us on to join us. In deciding our route, we simply talked to one another to decide which way to go. It was spontaneous, and supportive. At one point, people started marching up towards the freeway, and 2 cop cars almost hit a protestor. As we continued forward, 2 cops sprayed protestors with pepper spray. One Mexican woman was screaming that she couldn’t see because they sprayed her directly in the eyes at close range. Protestors helped rinse this woman’s eyes, but she couldn’t see for hours. This was much earlier in the evening, hours before the tear gas, that the news and police reports failed to mention.

[Submitters note: here there were included pictures of the pepper-sprayed protestor. I’m not including those for safety and also because I don’t think the photo quality would come out]

Still, we marched through the town, but we began to encounter people who were violently threatening us in opposition. As we marched on 6th, one black car circled around several times trying to run over protesters with their car. At one point they drove forward as a man was standing in front of the car. There was also a proud boy following us before a few people confronted him. Another man in a white truck was threatening protesters on 6th, and eventually pulled out his rifle on us. News reports of people saying, “someone has a gun,” failed to mention that it was people looking to hurt us. White supremacists are no secret in this town, and now they are taking this opportunity to try and hurt people.

By the time we arrived back to 7th & Washington, we had experienced a lot of violence towards us. People were trying to silence us, and it did not end throughout the night. One woman protesting was slammed to the ground and beaten by a man in a car who was trying to run over another women’s bike. So, when people took to setting signs, cones, or dumpsters on fire, it was a way to be heard. As many have said, property can be replaced, lives cannot. And just to clarify, as a POC in such a white town, that was the most people of color I have ever seen together at a protest in Eugene. It did feel good to be with POC I had never seen before to stand against injustice, and to be around white people who didn’t just take it easy because “it wasn’t their issue,” or to put themselves at risk when other white people were trying to attack us.

In conjunction with many of the national protests, the feeling that I got was that people are fed up. This began as a protest against police brutality, to advocate for justice for George Floyd, and to stand in solidarity with POC around the country, but we all know that the issue goes deeper than George Floyd because it is not the first case of police brutality. People of color are tired of being treated as inferior and disposable. We are tired of seeing our people struggle and die early deaths under a racist system. All you need to do is look at history to see the way POC have always been murdered, brutalized, and exploited to build up wealth and opportunity for mostly white men. Look at current statistics of wealth disproportions and demographics in prisons to know that there is structural racism. All you need to do is look at the way entire POC immigrant families are treated in ICE camps to see how we are dehumanized. All you need to do is look at national reports of the George Floyd protests to see constant examples of police brutality while people fight for justice.

Right now, is not a time to tear down those finding the courage to stand up for what’s right. George Floyd needs justice, and all people of color deserve justice. Stop and think why so many people around the country are taking to the streets and setting things to fire. Why we are taking the risk during a pandemic that we are disproportionately affected by. We are tired, and we don’t have the comfort of waiting it out for things to get better, our lives are on the line now.


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