Massive crowd gathers for protest march

The March for Black Lives was the largest demonstration in memory.

Posted: May 31, 2020 2:28 PM
Updated: Jun 1, 2020 10:07 AM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A massive crowd gathered in downtown Sunday afternoon, peacefully protesting against police brutality and systematic racism in the United States.

The March for Black Lives began around 1 p.m. at the federal courthouse and proceeded across the Ferry Street Bridge to Alton Baker Park.

Police urged people to avoid the area as the group grew to nearly 10,000 people by 4:30 p.m.

Speakers included state Sen. James Manning, (D) Eugene, Councilor Greg Evans of Eugene, and Sabina Pierre, a former student leader at the University of Oregon.

The march was organized by Eugene resident Madeliene Smith in reaction to the recent death of George Floyd, a Minneapolis man who died while in police custody.

Former officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck during an arrest. He now faces charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

MORE: EX-OFFICER WHO KNELT ON GEORGE FLOYD'S NECK CHARGED WITH THIRD-DEGREE MURDER

The death led to protests in Minneapolis that spread around the country.

In Eugene, the March for Black Lives was set for Sunday, but protests began Friday night. Several hundred people gathered at about 10 p.m. for a protest that ended with violent acts. Multiple businesses were damaged and looted, and a fire broke out inside a Starbucks. Some of the protesters helped put out the fire.

“What is happening tonight is not a legitimate, free speech event,” Police Chief Chris Skinner said. “It is illegal, irresponsible, is destroying local business and city property. It threatens the reputation of other peaceful and lawful events that don’t damage our city and put our residents and guests in harm’s way.”

Multiple people were arrested overnight Sunday for violating a citywide curfew that was put in place due to the protests.

The Sunday march was held as planned and was a peaceful protest.

This is a developing story.

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