Second protest held in Prineville
A second Black Lives Matter protest was staged in downtown Prineville Saturday afternoon that drew smaller numbers but included some contentious behavior and arrests.
Like the last protest, demonstrators stood near the Crook County Courthouse lawn while a group of counter-protestors gathered across the street in front of the Prineville City Hall plaza. The groups again shouted back and forth to each other during the event, which lasted several hours, and at times, people crossed the street to confront each other.
According to media reports, four people were arrested. Two were lodged and released, while two were cited and released.
"The two that were lodged were given multiple warnings to get out of the center of the road," said Prineville Police Captain Larry Seymour, "and even offered a citation if they would walk to the sidewalk, and they refused."
The outcome of this demonstration was different than the first protest, where no arrests occurred. Prior to that event, protest organizer Josie Stanfield met with Prineville Police Chief Dale Cummins to ensure the event would be peaceful and lawful. Afterward, he said the protest went well and that after it ended, organizers even cleaned up the area.
The second protest did not occur with Cummins and Stanfield on the same good terms. On Friday, the day before the protest, Stanfield posted a video highly critical of a meeting that took place earlier that day with Cummins and fellow protest organizer Teirra Bilbruck.
In her video, she expressed disgust, raising several different concerns about what Cummins said about how the police department operates when it comes to issues of race. Among those concerns was the lack of an African American police officer in Prineville. She said she was told that the agency keeps an Hispanic officer on duty at all times because the Prineville population is 11% Hispanic. She said she asked if the department likewise has an African American police officer to represent that particular race in the community, and according to her, Cummins said the African American population in Prineville is only 0.8% so they do not. She went on to say that she was told by Cummins that no educated black man would likely want to be an officer in Prineville.
In addition, Stanfield said that the topic of defunding police departments was broached, and that Cummins said if that happened in Prineville, it would result in the department having to discontinue its annual racial diversity training.
She also said that she witnessed counter-protestors openly drinking alcohol during the first protest and hurling racial slurs at protestors. She said she was told that the agency lacked the staffing to adequately deal with the drinking and that the department was not going to deal at all with the racial slurs.
Stanfield also expressed frustration that Cummins said he would not take a knee or express any public support of the Black Lives Matter movement. She said she was told that the department needed to stay neutral.
She said she was ultimately left with the impression that the local police department did not care about black people in the community, did not support them and was not willing to protect them.
During the Saturday demonstration, Prineville Police Department posted a video to its Facebook page in which Cummins, joined by Bilbruck, disputed Stanfield's video. The video was reportedly shot and posted after Bilbruck reached out to the police department to apologize for how Friday's meeting was portrayed.
Cummins said that Stanfield lied in her video or twisted around what was said in the roughly two-hour conversation. He did not reference any specific part of her video.
"I thought the conversation went well," he said in the police department video, with Bilbruck seated to his left. "We don't always agree on everything but that's OK because we could sit at a table and be civil and talk about the issues at hand."
Cummins said that he fielded questions asked about how the local agency does police work, and he answered those the best that he could. But toward the end of the meeting, he said Stanfield asked him if he would take a knee.
"I told her I would not, that because of all of the different things that are going on right now, that the message isn't strictly about civil rights." he said, "So, I was concerned that people could misconstrue that type of behavior condoning some of the other things that have been going on that quite frankly I am not in agreement with. I think we need to have civil conversations and work toward solutions."
Cummins said that Stanfield was upset with his response and when the meeting concluded, Bilbruck shook hands with him, but Stanfield would not.
Bilbruck was asked about her takeaway from the Friday meeting. Specifically, she was asked if what Stanfield said was true.
"She didn't tell the truth. The conversation that we held and the things that she said that you said, you didn't say those things. We had a good conversation," Bilbruck said. "There were points of it where we disagreed. We are going to disagree on some things. That's why we have conversations."
Bilbruck said that she called the meeting, and invited Stanfield, because she had a message and some questions. She said it was not about asking Cummins to take a knee or pick one side or the other.
She was then asked by Cummins to provide some of her personal history in Prineville. She said she was the first mixed-race person born in Pioneer Memorial Hospital, back in 1977. She said she loves Prineville and is proud to live here and noted that much of her family is from the community as well.
Cummins said he hopes to have more meetings with Bilbruck throughout the coming months, "because she is willing to tell the truth, even if I don't like it sometimes. But that's OK because the truth will help us as we're moving down the road."
"Hearing what she has to say and getting a better understanding of what she has been through will help us understand how to better serve," he said.
Cummins went on to stress that Stanfield will not be invited to participate in those meetings because of how she portrayed Friday's meeting in her Facebook video.
"I don't mind being judged for my opinions but I do mind when I am being judged by opinions I don't have," he said, "and when I am misrepresented for the purposes of escalating an issue or calling for my resignation or any of those types of things, it's a offensive to me when someone will completely misrepresent a meeting that I had."
He concluded the video stating that it is important for everybody to take the time to talk to each other and be truthful with each other.
"We don't have to agree but we can get from here to a better place," he said.
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