No major incidents occur at dueling protests

By on Sunday, August 30th, 2020 in Columbia Basin News Regional News

PENDLETON – After weeks of planning with the Pendleton Police Department, the Black Lives Matter protest at Roy Raley Park, march, and car parade countered by protestors on the other side of Southwest Court Avenue went off with no significant injuries or incidents, according to Police Chief Stuart Roberts.

He estimates there were about 200 people attending the BLM rally and march, and did not have a count of those who participated in the car rally, for those who wanted to practice social distancing but express their support.

The counter-protesters that gathered across from the park in the Dave’s Chevron parking lot outnumbered the BLM group.

“There were almost twice as many, I would say,” Roberts said. “I only knew about 60 of them, and that astonished me.”

Roberts, who is a graduate of Pendleton High School, said that usually he knows far more people than that, and definitely knew more people at the BLM protest than at the counter demonstration.

Two incidents stood out in Roberts’ mind. One was when the BLM supporters began their march. He said at least one person in the counter demonstration dropped a firearm as those people surged across Court to overtake the marchers. He said some shoving broke out, but the two groups were separated, and officers formed a line between the two groups.

The other incident came when the BLM rally was supposed to end at 6 p.m. He said there was a group of people in Roy Raley Park that didn’t leave, including several who were wearing the same T-shirts and yelling at the group in Dave’s parking lot.

“I don’t know where they came from,” Roberts said. “I didn’t see them earlier. They were antagonistic.”

The groups exchanged heated barbs as Pendleton and Oregon State Police officers took up positions along the street to ensure that both sides didn’t mix. He said the event ended at around 10 p.m., when the BLM organizers agreed to leave.

“It was exhausting,” he said of the day’s work. “We had heard so many outlandish rumors leading up to it. None of them came to fruition.”