Eugene-Springfield NAACP Holds ‘March Against Fear’

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.

Several dozen people surround a memorial containing 21 chairs, each one with a bouquet of flowers and a sign memorializing a different mass shooting, while a speaker stands behind a podium and addresses the crowd. Most of the people are trying to stand in the shade of several large cedar and Douglas fir trees in the background, while a smaller group of a dozen stand in the sunlight in the foreground.
Activists and protesters surround a memorial for the victims of mass shootings in the middle of Monroe City Park on June 26, 2022 before a march on the Federal Courthouse to demand action on gun violence in America. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]
  • A bouquet of yellow and pink flowers sits on a blue chair beneath a paper sign that reads “Aurora Theater, 12 souls, 70 injured, 2012. The chair sits in the sunlight on granite pavement with leaf detritus scattered around and behind.
  • A bouquet of yellow, purple, and white flowers sits on a blue chair beneath a paper sign that reads “Sandy Hook Elementary, 27 souls, 2 injured 2012. The chair sits in the sunlight on granite pavement with leaf detritus scattered around and behind and a small shrub in the background.

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.

  • A close up photo of a sign later carried by one of the protesters in the march. The text is upside down in the image, and reads: “So 19 good guys waited… minutes for permission from above…while one bad guy with a gun slaughtered 19 kids and two teachers… Arming teachers and the rest of us works for weapons manufacturers. Voluntarily disarm the populace and the State!” Below that is smaller text that reads: “When people no longer trust themselves, they begin to depend on the authorities,” a quote from Tao Ching. That sign is placed above another sign, whose text is blocked except for “SHOT” in big, bold letters.
  • A protester wearing a white sun hat, a face mask, and dark pants holds an orange sign depicting an AR-15-style rifle being crossed out by a red circle with a line through it, with three drops of blood on the left side of the sign. Two American flags are attached to the sign, one from either upper corner of the poster. Behind the protester is a lush green bush, and behind that is the sun-baked grass of Monroe City Park.
  • Assorted baked goods, mostly chocolate chip cookies, are being taken from their Safeway packaging and placed into plastic bags for distribution to the gathered crowd. A single white hand can be seen placing a cookie in a bag containing a juice pouch. In the background is a gallon-sized water bottle and smaller disposable cups, all set upon a white folding table in the shade of Monroe City Park.

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.

  • A man with grey hair and beard, and wearing black glasses, sings into a microphone he's holding. His left hand is resting on a lectern that is fronted by bouqets of bright yellow and white flowers. A protester who had arrives sits on the grass a distance behind him.
  • MIles Pendleton, sporting a black beard and wearing a black shirt with NAACP printed on the front over black athletic pants, speaks from behind a wooden podium while flanked by three people. To Pendleton's left is a man wearing a white shirt and a small knit cap; to his right is a person wearing a clergy collar and a rainbow scarf next to a second person wearing a short sleeve shirt with a bird print

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.

  • A young protester shouts into a megaphone with “NAACP” printed on the side of it, while someone in the near background carried a traditional Pride flag with the word “peace printed on it.” A few more young people are further in the background, leading the march. The march is passing through a residential neighborhood, this photo taken in front of the Madison West apartments in Eugene.
  • A line of protesters march through the intersection of Washington and Broadway in downtown Eugene, with the Interstate 105 on-ramp in the distance. About a third of the marchers in this phone are carrying signs, with one that reads simply “Ban Assault Weapons.”
  • Protesters, many of whom are wearing orange shirts, the color associated with the March for Our Lives movement started by the survivors of the Parkland High School massacre, begin to march through the streets of Eugene, Oregon on [date]. The sign in the foreground has the words “thoughts and prayers” crossed out, with “Police and change” written below it. Another cardboard sign reads “Another grandpa for common sense gun safety laws.” Yet another sign reads “Ending gun violence equals ending white supremacy.” Green trees loom in the background, blocking out all but a little bit of clear blue sky.

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.

An elderly, white-haired woman watches the march pass from her balcony in downtown Eugene while holding a mug. There are other people on the balcony as well, but their faces are obscured by the railing.
A woman watches from the balcony of her downtown residence after throwing water onto passing marchers on their way to the Federal Courthouse in downtown Eugene on June 26, 2022. According to polls, older Americans are less likely to support gun control legislation than Generation Z and millennials. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

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.

Dozens of people begin to gather in front of the glass and steel building of the Wayne Lyman Morse federal courthouse in downtown Eugene. In the background, there are some blue and white canopies set up, with some people standing beneath the shade of trees in front of the courthouse as well.
Protesters begin to gather in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Eugene, where the one-way march through Eugene would end in another rally with speakers and musicians. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]
The plaque marking the Wayne Lyman Morse Federal Courthouse in Eugene is covered in red graffiti that has crossed out the existing text with new text that reads: “AK-47, Send ‘em all to piggie heaven, ACAB.” On the concrete next to the plaque, someone has scrawled “Abortion equals healthcare” and “All Judges are bastards.” The author of the graffiti is unknown.
Graffiti at the United States Federal Courthouse in downtown Eugene following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. [James Croxton // Double sided Media]

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.

  • Several dozen yellow flowers are laid on the steps of the federal courthouse, surrounded by the same signs commemorating past mass shooting in the United States. In the foreground, there’s a black sign that reads “Schools are for learning not lockdown.” Behind the flowers and podium, there are people trying to get out of the sun, preparing to listen to some guest speakers.
  • A group of four people stand beneath a blue canopy in front of several microphone, leading the crowd in some clapping, while a drummer plays behind a kit nearby.

Amanda Becker-Henske—who was documented getting assaulted by law enforcement two nights prior—said that she, as part of Street Medics Eugene, was asked to drive during the march by NAACP President Miles Pendleton during meetings prior to the event. 

Considering what had happened to her, Becker-Henske was upset that the NAACP had requested the escort by EPD. 

Two bicycle cops with the Eugene Police Department stand with their bicycles and watch protesters march through the Jefferson-Westside neighborhood, near downtown. The cops are wearing full body armor and tactical boots and shade their eyes behind dark sunglasses. The cop in the foreground appears to have a faint smirk, while the cop in the background is trying his hardest to look tough.
Officers with the Eugene Police Department monitor the march on June 26, 2022 as it passes through a residential neighborhood. A report from USA Today found a total of 1,358 victims of mass shootings between 2006 and 2017. Meanwhile, police in the United States have killed over 1,000 people just this year. [James Croxton // Double Sided Media]

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.”

Janusz Malo

I'm trying to survive late stage capitalism, give me your clicks.

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