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Activist-Artists Emphasize: BLACK LIVES MATTER Outside Federal Courthouse

Brian Bull

Friday morning, activists with Eugene BIPOC Artists Collective painted "BLACK LIVES MATTER" on the 8th Avenue side of the Wayne Morse Federal Courthouse.

A BIPOC representative says she's delighted they got permission from the City of Eugene to paint the letters across 8th Avenue, just in time for the 155th Juneteenth observance.  This was the day in 1865 when a federal order declared the end of slavery in Galveston, Texas. 

WEB EXTRA: Video of the slogan being painted today:

Today also marks three straight weeks of BLM activism in this Oregon city, in response to high profile cases of police brutality and violence against People of Color nationwide. 

In March, forgery suspect George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Officer knelt against his neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring Floyd's pleas and cries of "I can't breathe".   Riots ensued across the Twin Cities, while the four officers involved in the incident remained free and uncharged for days.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
View of the BLACK LIVES MATTER slogan from the steps of the federal courthouse.

Weeks before, police in Louisville, Kentucky shot and killed Breonna Taylor.  The Black medical technician was sleeping in her apartment when officers burst in, using a so-called “no-knock warrant” for a drug investigation. Her boyfriend -saying he thought someone was breaking in - shot an officer, prompting return fire that killed Taylor in her own home.

And while police were not involved in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery in southern Georgia in February, months passed before charges were pressed against the two white men who had stalked the black man as he jogged through a neighborhood, then shot him after a scuffle.  Critics says this shows a double-standard in how black suspects are treated compared to white suspects.

Black Lives Matter protests, marches, and rallies have been held globally since Floyd's death.  In Eugene, the majority have been passionate, but peaceful.  Activists have highlighted Oregon's racist past as well as current issues related to multiculturalism and equality.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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