What started as a one-person protest on Juneteenth quickly grew to daily Black Lives Matter rallies of more than 100 residents of senior-living facilities in Oak Grove.
People over age 65 were the vast majority of people waving signs during the afternoon rush hour on River Road Monday, June 22, and many of the protest participants were residents over 90 years old of the adjacent Willamette View and Rose Villa elderly care facilities.
Willamette View resident Jerry Hull, 75, was the first protester on River Road on June 19, and dozens of locals have since joined him for the daily rallies. He grew up on the Oregon Coast and said he never spoke to any minorities until he went to college. Eventually adopting children who are mixed race, Hull describes his grandson as a large, strong 30-year-old Black man.
"Every time I see him, I say to myself, 'If he we're stopped by the police, I would be afraid for his life, because he is a tough young Black man,' so I felt in the current political environment, I had to do something to show my support for Black Lives Matter," Hull said.
Paul Bosshardt, 77, and a resident of Willamette View since 2016, was among the protesters who joined Hull. Bosshardt happens to be a retired pastor from a United Methodist church in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota, where George Floyd was killed by police on May 25, and sparked the nationwide protests.
"The Minneapolis police department has a lot of issues, as do most of the police departments across the country, we have recently learned," Bosshardt said.
Also joining the rally on River Road, David Keifer, 73, has been a resident of Willamette View for more than a year and recalled protests in which he participated during the 1960s.
"Things need to change, and we shouldn't tolerate police violence," he said.
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