In times of crisis people often turn to faith and, with the crisis that is mass shootings, elementary massacres, and domestic terrorism, it is to no one’s surprise that Eugenians and the organizations the community supports would do the same.
A coalition of faith leaders, community leaders, and the Eugene-Springfield chapter of the NAACP convened on June 26 with around 200 community members in Monroe City Park before a “March Against Fear” to the Federal Courthouse where a rally would take place.
In attendance were galvanized millennials, parents and their children, elders, and furious Generation Zs. Signs decrying the overturning of Roe v. Wade, gun reform, Pride flags, and rage over the current American reality accented the surrounding green grass.
Reverend Adam Briddell, Rabbi Emeritus Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin, and Ibrahim Hamide were among several speakers at the park. Prior to marching to the Federal Courthouse, NAACP President Miles Pendleton gave the march’s instructions to those gathered.
With Street Medics Eugene driving block cars in the front and back of the crowd, and an extensive police escort; the march was sounded off by chants of “no more silence, end gun violence.” Various chants were uttered by the marchers as they ascended upon West Broadway.
The chants included “Hey Hey Ho Ho The NRA Has Got To Go;” “Protect our kids, protect our schools, because gun violence ain’t that cool;” and “out of your homes and into the streets” — a Eugene favorite.
Those same chants continued during the one-way march from Monroe City Park to the Federal Courthouse.
In the process of marching, several people were met with splashes of water from at least one elderly women on a balcony above, also shooing the march away. In another instance, a man made it known to the EPD escort that he believed his takeout order from Bon Mi on Broadway was more important than why the marchers had gathered and, repeatedly, asked the EPD escort “is this legal? Is this legal?” He then flipped the march off as he ran inside to get his food, leave, and then disappear.
The march was overwhelmingly positive and peaceful, though, and around 11:30 a.m., the crowd of a couple hundred had arrived at the courthouse where, at some point prior, graffiti had been applied to the outdoor plaque and surrounding concrete.
On the steps of the courthouse, a choir began the rally by starting with a performance followed by a speech by Miles Pendleton. Several more speeches occurred throughout the rally and were interspersed with choir performances.
Around 1:45 p.m., the rally had ended and all those that had marched had to either walk back or wait for transportation offered by the NAACP.
Considering what had happened to her, Becker-Henske was upset that the NAACP had requested the escort by EPD.
Becker-Henske said that she and Pendleton “met the prior week to discuss logistics and it came to light that working with EPD was their goal.” She also said that “SME promised the NAACP President Miles Pendleton that they would get from Point A to Point B safely and smoothly as possible. Without EPD’s assistance.”
“I really don’t care for [the police escort] at all because of the fact that they’re killing Black people, people of color, with their guns,” she said. “Literally, the officer that PepperBalled us the other night for standing up for women’s reproductive health, and women’s rights, and uterine owners rights, why are you here?”
When asked about the police escort, Pendleton said that “traditionally, with all of our MLK marches, we do it alongside EPD.”
“Certainly in the case of this one, we thought it was good and also, naturally, as this was a response to gun violence and domestic terrorism, we’ve seen a wide range of events happen across the country where similar programs, protests, and demonstrations have been attacked by armed intruders and an insurgence,” he said. “So, we felt it was necessary to get that extra layer of security and protection.”