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Black Lives Matter march in Vancouver calls for unity, shuts down I-5 lanes

The march closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 for about an hour and a half.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched across the Interstate Bridge Friday evening as part of a rally.

The march closed the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 for about an hour and a half. The lanes were reopened at 6:30 p.m.

Earlier in the day, police warned commuters that bridge and freeway traffic could be impacted by the event.

Ozzie George, of MAD PDX, which stands for making a difference, helped organize the rally. He said he wanted to show that there's support for the Black Lives Matter movement in Vancouver.

“When I went over to Portland, they told me, ‘Oh that's not going to happen in Vancouver. They're too racist over there.’ I said, 'I'm going to show you different because I live there.'"

The rally started at Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver at around 4 p.m. Protesters then left and marched onto the freeway at around 5 p.m. Police closed the southbound lanes before protesters marched on I-5.

Demonstrators then marched across the Interstate Bridge, took a knee at one point, and continued onto the Oregon side of the bridge. There, activists gave a few speeches. The group then turned around walked back to Esther Short Park.

“Your given right to travel is taken away, so I'm letting you know: this is exactly how we feel," George said of the march on I-5. "The only difference is you have another bridge that you can cross. We don't have another bridge we can cross because the people who died, they can't even wake up tomorrow. They can't come home to their family, they can't see their wife, they can't see their kids. Their life is over.”

The rally was one of many in the Portland metro area to honor Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the end of slavery in the United States.

George said his message is one of unity.

“You could be whatever you want to be in this world. That's what I'm trying to do encourage all Black people. If you unite and come together anything is possible," he said.

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