Correction: Derek Chauvin stands accused of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd, but has not been convicted. This article previously used the word 'murder'—this correction has been made.
After two weeks of dwindled involvement, Corvallis, Ore. community members independently organized a local protest to keep up the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The peaceful protest in support of the BLM movement took place on Friday, July 10, at 7 p.m. at the Benton County Courthouse in downtown Corvallis. The organizers of the event, Sharlena Luyen and Aidan Grimshaw, recent graduates from Oregon State University, led chants to the crowd of people who came with signs to show their support of the movement.
The chants included, “Black lives matter”; “No justice, no peace”; “Say her name—Breonna Taylor”; and “Say his name—George Floyd.”
George Floyd died on May 25, 2020 after Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds—resulting in positional asphyxiation. Within her home, Breonna Taylor was shot eight times and killed by officers of the Louisville Metro Police Department on March 13, 2020. Both of these killings sparked protests and marches all across the country in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Luyen and Grimshaw said they had a larger turnout for the protest than they had expected, with around 60 attendees who practiced social distancing during the protest.
“We honestly did not expect to have a really great turnout, because it was literally just [Aidan and I] being like ‘we haven’t done anything in a while, and I want to do something,’” Luyen said. “So we made a Facebook event for it and he was like on board, and so that’s just what we did. And we didn’t expect this many people to come out, so I’m really grateful for that.”
Luyen said she felt like there had not been as many marches and protests since the end of June, and wanted to keep showing support for Floyd, Taylor and the many others who have fallen victim to police brutality and systematic racism.
“I think we wanted to keep the momentum of the movement going, we didn’t notice that many protests in Corvallis recently, but it seemed like a lot of stuff was able to be accomplished early on. So we are hoping to keep the movement going on,” Grimshaw said.
Corvallis resident Destiny Myles said her main reason for coming to the protest was to support and keep up the momentum for Floyd, after seeing the video of him being murdered on the street.
“Realizing that racism is more than just calling someone a racial slur, there’s so many different parts of it. I’m biracial, so when I wear my hair curly people are like ‘oh did you get a perm?’ but no, I am half Black. And also, I have been told ‘oh you have such a great tan,’ and that’s super ignorant, really,” Myles said. “There are people that are Black or are biracial, so I just think that’s just ignorant for people to say. But these are just some things that I’ve personally had experience with people saying to me.”
Luyen said she and Grimshaw organized the protest independently from any local social justice groups, but she had worked with the Hattie Redmond Women and Gender Center and the College of Engineering Diversity and Inclusion Center.
“I just hope that people will continue to remember why the movement is happening and was happening, and what started it and how they can continue to support it,” Luyen said. “You’ve probably seen a lot on social media still hopefully, but actions are what makes the difference, and asking your senators and governors and state representatives who make differences in policies, I think, is going to be the most important thing. Especially starting at the foundation level of just your university and who you can talk to.”