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Black Lives Matter protest draws more than 500 to hear speakers talk about their experience with racism

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - More than 500 local residents gathered for the 'sit in solidarity' event held in support of Black Lives Matter on Tuesday, June 9, in Milwaukie. More than 500 local residents of the North Clackamas area showed up at Milwaukie Bay Park on Tuesday evening for a "sit in solidarity" event held to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Desi Nicodemus, a fifth-grade teacher at Lot Whitcomb Elementary and advocate for North Clackamas School District educators of color, said he and other organizers put on the event to allow fellow Milwaukie citizens and neighbors to hear from their black community. PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Sign-making materials were available for demonstrators to create their own custom message in support of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The event took place as protests continue to spring up across the country following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two black Americans killed in recent weeks at the hands of police.

"We're here to learn, act and amplify black voices," Nicodemus said. PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Desi Nicodemus, organizer and local teacher, primes the crowd for six speakers, all local black residents who talked about their experiences with racism.

Sit-in participants set up chairs and blankets facing a pair of pop-up tents at the bottom of the slope at Riverfront Park. They filled the hill all the way up to the sidewalk along McLoughlin Boulevard and listened intently as Nicodemus invited up six speakers. They talked about what it's like to live in Milwaukie and more broadly Clackamas County as a black person. Five of the six speakers were current students or recent graduates of local schools. PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Allie Ball, a freshman at La Salle Prep, performs a spoken word poem she wrote about racism and injustice in America during the sit-in solidarity event in Milwaukie Bay Park.

Allie Ball, a freshman at La Salle Prep, performed a powerful spoken word poem on what it's like to grow up as a young black woman in Milwaukie. Many members of the crowd were moved to tears.

Legeci Franklin-Bey, a 2020 graduate of Rex Putnam High School, spoke about systemic injustice and how it's personally affected her, her family and friends. PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Legeci Franklin-Bey (center right) listens with her friends as Taviana Harris speaks to the crowd in Milwaukie Bay Park on Tuesday, June 9.

Andre Miller, an eighth grader at Alder Creek Middle School, spoke about treatment he's received from his white classmates including being called the n-word and other racial slurs on a daily basis.

Kaija Holland, a seventh grader at Rowe Middle School, penned a letter to her fellow Milwaukie citizens that explains what's going on in the mind of a black 13-year-old in America today. Nicodemus — Holland's former teacher in elementary school — read the letter out loud for her as he stood with his arm around her.

Chaudrey Boyd, a 2009 graduate of Milwaukie High School, started out his speech by saying that most people in the Milwaukie community know him as "Chad," when in reality his name is Chaudrey. He envisions a world where black Americans don't have to change who they are to fit into society. PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Chaudrey Boyd, a 2009 graduate of Milwaukie High School, speaks to the crowd on June 9.

Tavianna Harris, a 2020 graduate of Milwaukie High School spoke — at times through tears — about her experience with racism, and how seeing deaths like that of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and so many others makes her fear leaving her home. She talked about how the school system failed to protect her right to a good education and to ensure she felt safe. PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Taviana Harris, a 2020 graduate of Milwaukie High School, gave an emotional speech during the sit-in solidarity event on Tuesday, June 9.

Lastly, Libra Forde, a North Clackamas School Board member and chief operating officer of the Self Enhancement service organization in North Portland, gave an impassioned speech about how systemic racism is like a game of chess. Forde's metaphor dove into how the everyday injustices experienced by black Americans are ingrained in many government and social systems that are set up to be advantageous to one specific class — white men. When Forde concluded that enough is enough and the time to change this system is now, the crowd erupted into applause and approving cheers.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Libra Forde, a North Clackamas School Board member, speaks about systemic racism and how now is the time to root it out.

Following speeches, protesters moved to the sidewalks along McLoughlin Boulevard at the top of the park to wave their signs and chant messages of support for Black Lives Matter.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Protesters gathered along McLoughlin Boulevard for the protest held June 9 at Milwaukie Bay Park.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Protesters put the finishing touches on their signs at the 'sit in for solidarity' event held at Milwaukie Bay Park on Tuesday, June 9, in support of Black Lives Matter.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Protesters sit and listen as speakers talk about their experience with racism and injustice seen in their own local communities.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Protesters hold signs along McLoughlin Boulevard following the rally in Milwaukie Bay Park on Tuesday, June 9.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - More than 500 people lined the hill in Milwaukie Bay Park on Tuesday, June 9, for a sit-in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

PMG PHOTO: SAM STITES - Protesters gather along both sides of McLoughlin Boulevard holding signs and chanting slogans in support of Black Lives Matter following the sit-in solidarity event.


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