Hundreds of demonstrators commemorating Juneteenth marched Friday afternoon from Esther Short Park to Interstate 5, where they occupied the Interstate 5 Bridge and took a knee in honor of George Floyd and to promote the end of racism in the United States.
“I just feel empowered as a person, as a people,” said Ezekiel Hunt, one of the organizers, as he walked to the center of the old green drawbridge.
“This has never been done before. I feel like my ancestors who marched in Alabama, Montgomery and Georgia. You know, it’s never been done here from Vancouver to Portland, and we’re the first ones to do it, and I’m proud. I’m proud to be a Black man in 2020.”
A group of demonstrators began amassing in the park around 4 p.m. By 4:45 p.m. an estimated 250 people were on hand, with more arriving.
Nijel Wilson, from Vancouver, is part of a Portland-based nonprofit called M.A.D. PDX. He said that Friday’s demonstration was mainly meant to raise awareness for Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, and also to demand racial equality.