With great passion and a flair for flamboyant displays, a raucous crowd gathered in Newberg on Aug. 24 to show their disdain for recent Newberg school board actions and in support of Black Lives Matter, gay pride and a range of other issues.
Coalescing at what has become the unofficial local gathering place for all things political or social — the flag pole at the intersection of First and River streets — the nearly 200 people waved signs, sang songs and waved at the steady stream of motorists driving by First and Hancock streets during rush hour.
Organizer Amanda Boothy, a 2015 graduate of Newberg High School, admonished the school board for its recent resolution to ban BLM and Pride symbols in the schools.
"I'm a lesbian woman and blown away from the disregard that the Newberg school (board) has for the LGBTQ and Black lives community," she said in a statement prior to the rally. "Putting such a ban on these things is going to do more harm than good."
She explained her reason for organizing the rally and the sentiment behind many gathered there:
"Myself and fellow community members are peacefully protesting the ban of Black lives and LQBTQ for the students, staff and parents of Newberg school district. ... This ban should not be political and according to the Newberg school board LQBTQ and Black lives have become a 'political' movement. LQBTQ and Black Lives Matter is a community about equality, love and sense of identity."
Tai Harden-Moore, a Black woman who ran unsuccessfully for Zone 5 on the school board, agreed with the sentiment leading to the rally.
"I think it is wonderful because it is so needed," she said. "Using your voice is so American. We talk about patriotism in this town a lot. It is interesting to me that so many people are angry that we're having this peaceful protest, but it's encouraging to see so many people support it as well. It's such an American thing to do."
The crowd was generally well accepted by the motorists on First and Hancock streets, many honking their horns in support of the rally. However, there were some reports of a few detractors displaying obscene gestures and a particularly animated man who shouted passages from the Bible across the street from the crowd.
Included in the crowd were many youths, including students from nearby schools.
"I came out tonight because I didn't agree with the school board's decision and didn't think they listened to enough student voices, so I'm here exercising my right to protest for representation we deserve," Newberg student Ashley Peña told the Oregonian. "These symbols aren't hurting anyone and I don't see why banning them is necessary. By banning these symbols, they're saying we're not accepted here."
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