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BLM protest turns into open forum with counter-protesters

For over two hours, 300 people listened to viewpoints on systemic racism, defunding the police, as well as white supremacy.

Posted: Jul 22, 2020 11:33 PM
Updated: Jul 23, 2020 10:36 AM

SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A Black Lives Matter protest turned into an open forum Wednesday evening with two different viewpoints coming together for a discussion.

Black Unity originally organized a march through Springfield protesting the settlements made by police departments toward families of those who have died in custody. But with a counter-protest forming across the street from the Springfield Public Library, leaders from both sides decided to hold an open forum.

Black Unity Outreach Coordinator Tyshawn Ford said an open forum has been in the works.

"We have been talking about having an open forum for a long time," Ford said. "So when I first got here honestly I thought we should scrap this march and we should have an open forum with them. Then a guy went over there and talked to them and he told me that they wanted to do that. They agreed."

For over two hours, 300 people listened to different viewpoints on systemic racism and defunding the police. A Springfield resident who goes by Rob and is a counter-protester said he is happy how the forum turned out.

"Black Unity said a lot of great stuff and our spokesman Marcus said a lot of great stuff," Rob said. "This was a peaceful protest, it didn't end up with looting or rioting. No one got hurt."

In the end, both sides agreed that the system is broken and something has to be done to fix it. But to fix it, Ford said there needs to be more open forums with constructive dialogue.

"This was so big because this showed me some of them actually agreed with some of the things we agreed with and I didn't know that," Ford said. "I thought they were completely against us and this shows the community we need to have these conversations with everybody."

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