About a dozen people carrying “Black Lives Matter” and “Justice for George” signs observed eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence at Seaside’s Turnaround on June 4.
As protests spread throughout the county in the aftermath of the in-custody killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, demonstrators in Seaside showed their support for victims of police violence and demanded change.
Judy, who declined to give her last name, said she put the word out on Facebook early this week to gather at the Turnaround to support the Black Lives Matter cause. “After meeting Wednesday, we collectively decided we’ll be here every day until demands are met.”
On June 1, more than 60 organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement released a series of policy demands, including free access to higher education, reparations for injustice and an end to capital punishment.
On June 4, Warrenton resident Mel Richmond held a “Black Lives Matter” sign, adding the words “Ignorance=Fear=Silence=Death.”
“I grew up seeing the injustices of the world done by the government, done by human beings in general,” he said. “And it’s wrong. This has been going on long enough. It’s time to take a stand.”
Richmond said it was especially important for the North Coast to welcome all visitors.
“Seaside, Warrenton and Astoria are small communities,” Richmond said. “We have a lot of tourists who come here, a lot of black people and people of other ethnicities. I want to show them we support them. We’re on your side and we’re not going to watch you be treated wrong.”
While there was no police presence at the Turnaround on June 4, Seaside Police Chief Dave Ham said he and officers are aware of the ongoing protests.
“Yesterday I observed five to six people at the Turnaround with signs, waving at people passing by. I observed nothing but a friendly peaceful atmosphere from the participants and those who were in the area enjoying the beach and Promenade.”
Seaside’s Karen O’Neil held a sign reading “Justice for George.”
“For me, I came because I want to be part of the eight minutes of silence,” she said. “Eight minutes 45 seconds was the time George Floyd was under the knee of the officer that arrested him.”
Not everyone can travel to large urban areas to join protests, O’Neil said. “It feels important to be out here no matter where you are to be a part of it and to listen. We’re a white majority, we’re a white majority community, but it’s important to listen and support.”
Seaside’s Buzz Ottem said police need to be “seriously reeled in.”
“The brotherhood of the cops has to be broken,” Ottem said. “It’s nationwide. It doesn’t matter if it’s city cop, county cop, or state cop — it’s the same m.o.”
Dawn, a visitor from Scottsdale, Arizona, shared a different point of view.
She said the protesters were being manipulated by a “political left-wing agenda.”
“Five black people murdered during protests, they don’t seem to matter,” she said. “The couple hundred black babies murdered every day in abortion clinics, they don’t seem to matter. The black people murdered in Chicago every weekend, their lives don’t seem to be matter. Only if the murder supports the left-wing agenda, then it matters. Otherwise they don’t care these people are killed. We’re all made in God’s image. We’re all important.
“I know they mean well,” she continued, “but I think they’re being led by people with an agenda and I don’t think they realize that.”
Despite occasional dissent, response had been “overwhelming positive,” a protester named Donna said.
“As white people, we’re privileged and we’re the people who can speak up without the danger of other people and other ethnicities,” she said. “It’s our job do to this. Everybody’s human and they deserve to be treated as humans.”
The group plans to return, Judy said. “We’re going to be here every day from 12 to 2 for the duration until the leaders of that movement tell us this public action is no longer needed.”