Portland church demands end of unjust police violence against bl - KPTV - FOX 12

Portland church demands end of unjust police violence against blacks

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Dozens of people gathered at the steps of Portland’s First AME Zion Church Sunday morning to stand in solidarity with churches across the nation and call for the end of discriminatory police violence against blacks.

The group repeated the most iconic words of the Black Lives Matter movement: “Hands up, don’t shoot!,” and many held signs reading #BlackLivesMatter as they sang and prayed.

They also said they wanted to set the record straight.

“We do not say police lives do not matter, we do not say all lives do not matter,” said Right Reverend W. Darin Moore. “But we do not apologize that we boldly say, and unapologetically and uncompromisingly declare, black lives matter.”

Moore, who is the presiding bishop of the Western Episcopal District, added, "It is when vulnerable lives matter, that all lives truly matter.”

The rally comes in the wake of the recent police-shooting deaths of two black men: Philando Castile in St. Paul, Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 

A few days later a gunman opened fire on law enforcement at a Dallas, Texas Black Lives Matter rally, killing five and wounding several others. 

“It just wasn’t fair,” said the church’s director of youth programming, Breanna Probasco-Canda. "It’s not fair for those lives to be cut short like that, but it’s also not fair to quickly again silence the voice of the black community.”

“Why it hurt so bad is we didn’t even have enough time to grieve as a black community, as a loving community for what happened in Baton Rouge and what happened in St. Paul, we had to immediately turn our attention off of our family to look at what happened to another family,” Probasco-Canda said following the rally.

While she said she grieves for both the black lives lost and the white officers who died, Probasco-Canda said it was a white co-worker who helped her understand why the two tragedies felt very different. 

“The difference sadly between Dallas and the other two situations is that police officers choose to be police officers, so there’s a threat there that they walk into knowing something could happen,” Probasco-Canda said. "But African Americans, we were born that way and don’t have an opportunity to choose a different profession that’s going to change the way (we) look, so there’s always an opportunity for us to be in harm’s way.”

Her seven-year-old son held a #BlackLivesMatter sign during the event, and when asked whether she worries about her young child in Portland, Probasco-Canda said she worries now and for the future. 

“It’s amazing to be the mother of a seven-year-old boy -- that I have to tell you to keep your hand out of your pockets and take your hood off when we’re in a store,” she said. 

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