Several dozen people came together in Hermiston today to join the nationwide protests over the killing of George Floyd.
A small crowd began gathering at the intersection of Highway 395 and Elm Avenue before noon holding signs in response to the killing of Floyd last week.
Shortly after noon, dozens had gathered on four corners of the intersection.
“A lot of people are speaking out,” said Mercedes Shaver, 21, of Hermiston. “We want to show people we support the cause.
Standing next to Shaver was 21-year-old Megan Morse. She, too, felt the need to show support.
“I just felt like I had to do something,” Morse said. When asked what made this killing of an African American by a police officer different from others to the point where a crowd assembles to protest in the streets of Hermiston, Shaver said things in the United States have reached a tipping point.
“It’s the last strike,” she said. “We’re tired of it.”
“Sitting back and doing nothing is like saying it’s OK,” she Morse.
Floyd was killed on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minn., when an officer kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Since then, protests have erupted throughout the nation and the world.
In Hermiston on Monday, the protesters received the occasional negative comment from passing motorists, but Shaver said motorists “have been mostly supportive” by honking as they drive by.
Seth Lowrance, 28, of Umatilla, said he heard about the Hermiston protests on social media, like most others. He decided to call a friend, driver over to Hermiston and join the crowd.
“I’m just tired of seeing the same thing happen and nothing getting done about it,” he said. His friend, Sarah Jensen, 23, of Hermiston, said Floyd’s death was one too many.
“Before, people could kind of ignore it, but this has been going on for so many years,” said Jensen.
The makeup of Monday’s crowd was a mix of black, white and Latino, but primarily under the age of 30. Jensen said it would be nice if there had been some older protesters, but she was not disappointed.
“I’m glad it’s the youth that are out here,” she said. “Change starts with us.”
Sixteen-year-old Jose Cortez of Hermiston was among the youth who felt a need to take part.
“I just thought, ‘What am I doing sitting at home when this is going on?’ I may as well share my voice,” he said. Cortez said seeing the footage of Floyd on TV was “heartbreaking.”