BANDON — A peaceful protest to bring awareness of the nationwide Black Lives Matter movement has been happening daily for the past 57 days in Bandon.
Every afternoon from 3:30-5:30 p.m., a group of Bandon residents and others have been gathering alongside the intersection of Highway 42S and U.S. Highway 101, alternating corners to hold signs and flags and wave at cars as they pass by.
Amy Turner, a 2016 graduate of Bandon High School who now works at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, started the protest on June 2 and has been there every day since. On the 50th day, Turner was joined by some friends from Coos Bay in support of the cause she is promoting, along with the regular crowd, more than 30 people.
"But mostly there are Bandon people here today," Turner said.
Turner felt moved to protest following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Black individuals who died at the hands of police.
"I think it shows the community that we're actually serious about this and we're not going to leave until something gets done," Turner said.
"I think it's important Black people aren't afraid to go out and do normal things like going shopping," she added. "It's important to recognize the people who are extremely intolerant and call them out because we want to protect People of Color."
Standing there, Turner and the others have gotten a "surprising" amount of positive reactions, but she said it's about 50 percent positive and 50 percent negative, including people yelling and flipping them off.
The group smiles and waves at everyone, regardless of their reaction. They have no intention of doing anything destructive. The idea is to peacefully bring about change.
"People need to educate themselves and others and support Black businesses on the Internet," Turner said. "Donate if you can to Equal Justice Initiative (eji.org)."
Turner feels the local police are doing a good job and she supports them. But she also admits that since she's not a Person of Color, she hasn't esperienced racism personally. She's disturbed by recent local racially motivated graffiti in the Coos Bay area.
"There's clearly some underlying racism in some areas," she said.
Regarding the Portland BLM protests, Turner feels the federal officers being there is wrong and making the situation worse.
"I think the violence was calming down and when they came in, it escalated, inciting more violence," she said.
Another Bandon protestor, Autumn Moss-Strong, a University of Oregon student who comes to stand with the group when she's in town, said the BLM movement doesn't mean that Black people should be elevated above white people, a common reaction to BLM protests.
"Being pro-Black does not mean you are anti-white," she said. "We live in a society where Black people have consistently been discriminated against by many systems in our country. ... White people have always 'mattered' in our country and will always matter, but it is time that Black people get the recognition and appreciation they deserve. Of course all lives matter, but right now Black lives need our support."
Protestor Terra Morrison comes every day with her parents Andrew and Gabriella Morrison. She's a junior at the UO, studying environmental science and planning and public policy, and said she and others are working on presenting ideas at the state level and locally to the City Council.
Morrison said she comes to the protest because she feels a call to action. She said she was overjoyed when she returned from Eugene for the summer to see a small group protesting in Bandon.
"I think we are really changing lives and if we are having an effect on even one person (that's positive)," she said. "I've had quite a few conversations with people."
As far as how they can bring about policy changes, Morrison said the group is working on ideas and communicating with members of the community on what they would like to see.
"We have things in the mix that bridge the gap between standing here and effecting policy," she said. "We hope to bring a list of ideas to the Bandon City Council."
"We have awareness raised and a lot of community support, so it's time to get an action plan in place," she added.
For more information, visit www.blacklivesmatter.com.
About Black Lives Matter
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer. Black Lives Matter Foundation, Inc is a global organization in the US, UK, and Canada, whose mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.
"By combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centering Black joy, we are winning immediate improvements in our lives," reads a statement on the BLM website.
The statement continues:
"We are expansive. We are a collective of liberators who believe in an inclusive and spacious movement. We also believe that in order to win and bring as many people with us along the way, we must move beyond the narrow nationalism that is all too prevalent in Black communities. We must ensure we are building a movement that brings all of us to the front.
"We affirm the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. Our network centers those who have been marginalized within Black liberation movements.
"We are working for a world where Black lives are no longer systematically targeted for demise.
"We affirm our humanity, our contributions to this society, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
"The call for Black lives to matter is a rallying cry for ALL Black lives striving for liberation."