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Medford Protest Against Police Brutality Remains Nonviolent

Demonstrators protest against police brutality in Medford.
April Ehrlich / JPR News
Demonstrators protest against police brutality in Medford Monday, June 1, 2020.

More than 1,000 people rallied in front of Medford City Hall on Monday to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other black people at the hands of police.

Demonstrators chanted the names of black people killed by police in recent years, as well as Floyd’s last words before he died while a police officer kneeled on his neck: “I can’t breathe.”

Stacy Hoffman of Medford said she was just driving by when she saw the crowd and decided to stop.

“I’m a black woman living in Medford, Oregon,” Hoffman said. “When people say, ‘Racism doesn’t exist,” or, ‘I don’t see color.’ No, there are lots of people here that do. And yes I do have difficulties, that’s part of why I march on MLK day.”

Luis Sanchez was standing alone on the outskirts of the crowd.

“As a person of color, to be present to be heard, to finally have a moment to speak out — That’s why I’m quiet, I guess. So many people are hurt by this,” he said. “It’s generations and generations of hurt and pain.”

Massive protests following the death of George Floyd have swept the nation, including in Medford in Southern Oregon.
April Ehrlich / JPR News
Massive protests following the death of George Floyd have swept the nation, including in Medford in Southern Oregon.

Demonstrators remained peaceful, but tensions rose later in the evening.

Several frustrated drivers pushed through the crowds that were blocking streets, and one aggressively drove through protesters, possibly injuring someone. Medford Police say they’re investigating that incident. They also arrested a motorist who pushed his car through protesters in the street while waving a handgun.

A couple of dozen armed civilians who declined to identify themselves patrolled downtown Medford most of the night. They said they were protecting businesses, although there appears to have been no vandalism or looting by protesters.

April Ehrlich is an editor and reporter at Oregon Public Broadcasting. Prior to joining OPB, she was a news host and regional reporter at Jefferson Public Radio.