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Law and Justice

Peaceful Rallies In Ashland Call For Racial Justice

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Liam Moriarty/JPR News
Lying face-down with their hands behind their backs, as though handcuffed like George Floyd was when he was killed by police in Minneapolis last week, protesters in Ashland Sunday chanted Floyd's last words, "I can't breathe."

The recent death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer prompted hundreds to turn out for a pair of rallies in downtown Ashland on Sunday.

Demonstrators called for racial justice and an end to police violence against people of color.

Nearly all masked against the spread of the coronavirus, demonstrators carried signs and chanted to protest the deaths of unarmed black people killed by police.

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Liam Moriarty/JPR News
Protesters at a rally in Ashland's Lithia Park on Sunday, May 31, 2020

Event organizer Sarah Abeshouse, a university nursing student, said she put out a call on social media because she feels white people need to take responsibility for helping to heal the wounds caused by racism.

"Because white silence is deadly," she said. "We need to show that we care about what’s happening to our fellow human beings."

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Liam Moriarty/JPR News
Demonstrators march though downtown Ashland on Sunday, May 31, 2020 to protest the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police.

After rallying in Lithia Park, the gathering became an impromptu march through downtown to the Ashland Police station on East Main St. There, a chant began; "Lower the flag!"

A young man tried to climb the flag pole and managed to tear the American flag off its halyard. No one seemed to know what to do with it.

Two demonstrators respectfully folded the flag in the traditional triangular fold. It was later returned to an Ashland police officer.

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Liam Moriarty/JPR News
Two demonstrators fold an American flag that was pulled down from the flag pole in front of the Ashland Police headquarters on Sunday, May 31, 2020. The flag was later returned.

Eventually the crowd returned to the park. Ashland police provided traffic control but otherwise kept a low profile.

As the first march was breaking up, another, smaller crowd poured into the Plaza for a similar rally, organized separately.

There, the group chanted the names of some of the hundreds of unarmed African-Americans who have died at the hands of police.

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Liam Moriarty/JPR News
Demonstrators near the Plaza in downtown Ashland on Sunday, May 31, 2020

One speaker urged white people who want to be helpful to their black friends and neighbors to be willing to question their own unconscious patterns of racial prejudice.

Ashland police say there were no arrests or injuries during the day of protests.

Another group has announced on Facebook they plan to hold a similar rally at City Hall in Medford at noon Monday.