Photos: Eugene group leads Sunday protest calling for defunding, disarming police

Dana Sparks
Eugene Protests, a collective of black and indigenous voices for social change and police accountability, led a protest calling for the disarming and defunding of police at the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza on Sunday afternoon.

After some speeches, the group of more than a thousand marched to the University of Oregon campus, where it assembled among the trees in front of Deady Hall.

The building, named after pro-slavery Judge Matthew Deady, has been at the center of demands for change by the Black Student Task Force since 2015. This week, there were renewed calls to rename the building. Speakers took the time to talk about protesting responsibly, deescalation tactics, racism in education and the history of pride as protest.

Following the gathering at Deady Hall, a smaler group marched to the Eugene Police Department, where protesters tore down pro-police signs from the front of the boarded-up building and replaced them with anti-racism messages.

According to a news release from Eugene police late Sunday night, the protesters “taped posters and fliers to the boards over the front windows, or applied spray paint, where earlier in the day a community group had written messages of care for officers and taped up hearts.“

During this protest, “several individuals emerged with different motivations and vandalized a portion of the Eugene Police Headquarters building front with anti-police messaging,” the release said.

“There is a difference between the free speech rally of the larger group of protesters we saw, and the few individuals who came to deface our police building,” Eugene Police Chief Chris Skinner said in the press release. “It is important that people know the difference. The larger Black Lives Matter protest group has been self-regulating, careful with traffic and holding rallies.

“Out of respect for the Black Lives Matter protesters and to avoid disrupting the larger, lawful, group, we refrained from taking any action to contact the unidentified individuals committing criminal acts against our police facility. I am disappointed with the actions of the few who came with ill intent and we will investigate this incident.”

Eugene Public Works repaired the damage once the crowd left, police said.

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