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Two former Woodburn High School students are organizing a Black Lives Matter march scheduled for Friday in Woodburn

COURTESY OF CITY OF WOODBURN - This route has been established for the Woodburn #BLM march, which is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Friday, June 12.A pair of 2016 Woodburn High School graduates, Khaya Mathis and Arzel Duarte, shared similar reactions to the recent nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

Protests mounted across the country to express outrage over police brutality in the wake of the death of George Lloyd in Minneapolis. Four former Minneapolis police officers are facing charges in that death.

The two WHS grads watched those protests, including a number of them in various Oregon cities, and felt that voice should be clearly heard in their hometown as well.

"We were sitting on the couch and talking about how a lot of (Woodburn-area) people were posting on social media, but we wanted to see something more than that," Khaya said. "So we came up with the idea of a protest."

It's an idea that fits both beyond their passion for the topic: Arzel is a 2020 graduate from the University of Oregon with a B.A. in sociology and psychology; Khaya is a passionate activist and recipient of The Black United Fund Scholarship.

Working in conjunction with Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson and the Woodburn Police Department, Khaya and Arzel have organized a political march set to begin in Centennial Park at 5 p.m. Friday, June 12.

The event is planned as a peaceful protest/march supporting the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement, and the route will proceed from Centennial Park to Parr Road, passing by Woodburn City Hall, up First Street to Front Street and Hardcastle Ave., WPD and then onto the Front Street overpass.

Plans are for the march to continue back down Front Street and return to Centennial Park where there will be a celebration of unity.

Khaya said the event will begin with a handful of speeches at Centennial, and she anticipates the march to set out around 5:45 p.m. She will be delivering one of the speeches to impart details about the importance of the movement.

Organizers want ensure plenty of supplies are at hand for first aid kits, beverages, food, and any other needed materials. They hope to have plenty of food on hand after the march, including tamales, tacos and horchata.

"We're trying to make this organized, detailed and have everybody feel comfortable," Khaya said.

The entire event is expected to run until around 10 p.m.

Arzel noted on social media that "#BLACKLIVESMATTER is about human rights and there comes a time when silence is betrayal. The city of Woodburn has a diverse community and stands by #woodburnproud morals. We are proud to be diverse and will always fight for equality.

"Spread awareness of our event, let's do something great, let's be the change and create a better future for our young citizens! Your voice matters, and by numbers we are more powerful than anything."

The organizers have established a gofundme page benefitting the Black United Fund of Oregon and the official Black Lives Matter movement, along with a Black Lives Matter Woodburn page on Facebook.

For information, contact Khaya at 971-216-9495 or Arzel 503-980-5752.


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