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Group has held peace vigils since the early 2000s and now is joined by participants for Black Lives Matter

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Participants in Estacada's peace demonstrations hold signs advocating for equal justice.

While standing in downtown Estacada advocating for peace, Lloyd Marbet was thanked for his efforts by a veteran passing by.

"During the Iraq War, a veteran showed up and said he was very grateful we were willing to stand for peace. I thought that was quite significant," said Marbet, who also served in the Vietnam War. "Change is a matter of concern. I hope that by standing on that corner, somehow we help make change possible."

Marbet is one of several local residents who have participated in Estacada's demonstrations for peace for nearly two decades. The group got its start in the early 2000s after a rally at Estacada City Hall in opposition to the Iraq War. After that, several attendees decided to hold signs advocating for peace and justice weekly from 11 a.m. to noon at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 224.

Marbet described the vigils as "loose-knit." Participants have advocated against the Iraq War and in support of awareness about global warming.

"I stand with the Black Lives Matter movement, peace and justice, everybody getting the same treatment, a greater sense of equality, everyone getting their fair share of the common good and the idea that there's enough wealth in the world for everyone to have a decent life," said Peter Hamer, a regular participant in the demonstrations.

Kathy Erickson said she appreciates being able to facilitate a dialogue with the events.

"The idea was to stand for peace, and create a conversation," she said. "Let's all talk and hear what your side is."

Numbers have ebbed and flowed with time, but the only extended hiatus the group has taken was at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

At the beginning of June, they were joined by demonstrators supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. These peaceful protests are hosted in solidarity with numerous others around the state and country calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality, particularly against the Black community.

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Peter Hamer is a regular participant in Estacada's demonstrations for peace.

"For me, it's a sign of hope," Marbet said. "This country has been enmeshed in systemic racism for a long time. I'm glad there are people concerned enough to stand up against this. We watched George Floyd suffer to death with the knee of a police officer. It's wrong. It's just wrong."

"The most valuable part of the demonstrations, even though they're small, is that everything is a microcosm. Across the country, people are generally on board for treating Black people, and all people, like human beings," Hamer added. "Racism has permeated our country since its founding. It's demeaned and taken away from the greater good. (Without it,) problems we're facing might have been solved, and we could have achieved more to make the world a better place."

Marbet said he felt "very disturbed" when he saw a Facebook post from Mayor Sean Drinkwine stating that he was working to shut down the Black Lives Matter vigils. Drinkwine has since apologized for the post.

"It was somehow imposing on what, in my experience, has always been a very peaceful protest," Marbet said.

Those involved with the initial peace demonstrations have been happy to see them grow in support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

"There are a lot of wonderful people in Estacada. It's a wonderful thing that they want to stand for justice," Marbet said.

Though not everyone agrees with what the group stands for, the demonstrations have always remained nonviolent. Sometimes people give them the middle finger, which Hamer described as a half peace sign, since "they're halfway there." On one occasion, they were mooned.

"There have been heated discussions at times, but I've never seen any violence on that corner," Marbet said.

Hamer noted that in some ways the addition of the Black Lives Matter demonstrators to the vigils reminds him of the beginning days of the vigils, since there are more people involved.

"We're at an exciting time. I hope we get to the better place that we're pointed at," he said.

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