As tensions come to a head in Portland, Oregon, where federal agents in military garb are putting protesters into unmarked vehicles and tear-gassing demonstrators, people on the other side of the country are throwing support behind the protesters. On the heels of President Trump’s announcement that he may send these same federal officers–described by one Oregon senator as an “occupying army”— into other Democrat-run cities such as New York, many are standing in solidarity with those in Portland and reminding elected officials that the movement is showing no signs of stopping.
“It’s further evidence that the state sees us as risks and criminals rather than voters and civilians,” said Chi Ossé, who is running for the City Council’s 36th District seat. “What happened in Portland isn’t an isolated incident. Breonna Taylor’s killers are free. Trayvon Martin’s killer signs his name on Skittle packages.”
A couple thousand people gathered at Cadman Plaza on Saturday, July 25, marking two months of continuous protests since George Floyd’s murder. The theme was “we will not be silenced”; attendees brought pots and pans to bang on, and speakers were joined on stage by many musicians, including a bass player and a saxophonist. The demonstration was hosted by Unite NY 2020, a network of activists that aims to bring together many protest leaders throughout the city to form one big event. This time, they were joined by Street Riders, Warriors in the Garden, the Black Chef Movement and other Black-owned businesses that set up booths along the plaza.
Attendees also heard from Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, who stressed the importance of voting in all local and national elections — from the school board to the presidential, which is now in less than 100 days. “To all the young people out here, you are our future,” Carr said. “And you have to leave yourself a better nation than what we have today. We are counting on you.”
Protest leaders and marching band members then led the group out of Cadman Plaza and over the Brooklyn Bridge, as people sang along with the band to Queen Latifah’s song, “U.N.I.T.Y.”
Protests continued into Sunday, with a few hundred people coming out to Times Square to take part in the Black Womxn’s March.
“So when we say that Black women matter,” said Chelsea Miller, the co-founder of Freedom March NYC. “We’re talking about Black girls in the education system who we oftentimes treat as adults even though they are kids. So when we talk about Black women, let’s talk about Black trans women as well.”
The event was organized by several Black women who aimed to quell stereotypes that Black women must often endure, as well as show the crowd that everyone must be united in order to enact meaningful change.
“Let me just say, Black is beautiful,” said Kiara Williams, a member of Warriors in the Garden. “At first I never felt like I was beautiful. At first society made me feel like I was the bottom of the barrel. But I realized for my brothers and sisters that we’re top tier. Everything we have they want. And we call that cultural appropriation, culture vultures.”
The group then began marching uptown, and thousands of other people joined in as protesters made their way up FDR Drive.