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Leaders of Black Lives Matter movement call Portland protests inspirational

Demetria Hester, a Black activist who was the target of a hate crime committed by self-described white nationalist Jeremy Christian, joined Monday's news conference.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Leaders from the Black Lives Matter movement praised Portland activists for their nightly protests at a news conference on Monday.

Demetria Hester, a Black activist who was the target of a hate crime committed by self-described white nationalist Jeremy Christian on a MAX train the night before the fatal stabbings in 2017, also spoke. She was released from jail Monday after being arrested while protesting Sunday night. The Multnomah County District Attorney's Office confirmed they won't pursue charges against Hester.

"We are united, we are together, and we stand together as one," Hester said. "We need to heal and the only way as a community, as a new America, is to unite together, get reparations and live comfortably."

People have gathered each night in Portland for the past 10 weeks to protest police brutality and systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd.

Portland's protests and rallies have mostly been peaceful, with thousands of people gathering in downtown Portland to chant, listen to speakers and call for change. Some small groups have used violence to target government and police buildings.

“You folks have inspired people across the county. Because they tried to break you,” said Sandy Hudson, a leader of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Speakers at Monday's news conference called for defunding the police, ending capitalism and more access to housing, food, health care and child care.

“We are not just going to go away,” Hudson said.

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